I always wondered why my sales management college students abandoned everything they had learned about selling when attempting to sell their services in job interviews.

Elevator pitches, five-year goals, long stories, obtuse resume bullet points, all violate the strategies needed to close sales.

The first thing every aspiring rookie sales professional must learn is that it’s not all about what they are selling but what the other person wants to buy. You want the Oscar for best supporting player. You don’t want best actor.

When asked, “Tell me all about yourself,” don’t. You are a job candidate first and foremost. What they are looking for is paramount, not what you are looking for. Craft a polite and short answer to their question, but then ask them an equally short and well-crafted question along the lines of, “What will the best candidate look like?” Can you share with me what you are looking for?

You want their story in detail and your story in broad strokes with as few details as possible. “How did you get here? How did you happen to join this company?” Give people a chance to tell you how smart they are. Have a written list of 20 questions all focused on what they are all about and where their organization is going and how they hope to get there.

The first rule of good listening is to stop talking. The second rule is to ask a question and let the other person talk. Take notes. They make others feel that what they are saying is important. It usually is. Your written questions, and the notes you take means that you need a writing folder and something better than a stick pen.

Your objective in all interviews is not to get a job but to get another meeting. A phone interview must be converted into a meeting. A Zoom call must be focused on a face to face “Let me come and see” request.

Zoom is, of course, live television, and the standard you must compete with is the evening news. Talking heads are paid big time just to look good and read a prompter. Those are not easy skills to master, but see how close you can come.

A 10-second answer is too long. A chin up camera angle is horrible. Anything other than an electronic background is a huge distraction. Eye contact is critical with smiles and head nods. Definitely dress for success. Shined shoes even for Zoom head shots, basic professional dress and a little primary color works.

Be sure you do full follow up on all contacts. To stand out in a crowd follow up your email, the expected business communication, with an unexpected hard copy letter in the mail. Nobody does that. That is why you should do it.

Research is always the objective with the goal being another meeting.

If you are asked, “When can you start?” you will know you did all this better than most.

Jack Falvey was an adjunct professor at U-Mass Boston and Boston College. He lives in Londonderry.