Original question from Quora:

What are some of the best responses to “Sell me this pen/pencil” in a job interview?

Lets please not bring up the Wolf of Wall Street and say “Supply and Demand, my friend!” What are some of the other best responses?

My Answer:

Originally this was an answer to how Steve Jobs would answer this question in an interview setting….

If you asked Steve Jobs this question, you are an idiot. Steve Jobs was a smart, strong willed, persuasive dude. He also was a great entrepreneur and a terrible employee.

The question you are asking is essentially someone saying, “I don’t believe you know how to sell. Prove me wrong.” I never met Steve Jobs, but I’d imagine he’d basically tell the person to go to hell in so many words.

This is a terrible question on many levels. The most egregious problem with it is the fact that you are talking to Steve Jobs, the pitchman for Apple.

Over the years, I watched Steve pitch many products and you knew that as long as the product wasn’t total garbage, he would do a good job selling it. Even if the product wasn’t great, he’d still sell the hell out of it to the Apple faithful.

Asking this question essentially is pretending that Steve Jobs has never sold anything before. It’s like asking Bruce Lee if he can throw a straight punch or side kick or if Brock Lesnar can do a suplex.

If you really want to know how Steve Jobs sold things, go back and watch him introduce the iPhone, iPad, Power Macs, iMacs, iPods, and so on. Seeing him in his element, doing his actual selling is more instructive than some kind of silly thought experiment about how Steve Jobs would respond to a lame interview question.

If you really want to know how to sell, go work a used car lot, sell vacuums door to door, throw Mary Kay or Tupperware parties, etc. Do that long enough and you’ll know the answer to the pen question.

-Brian

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