After connecting more than 20,000 people to interviews with employers, Les Fenyves is extending his expertise to the rest of the world. His manual, “How to Sell Yourself in an Interview: A Guide for the Non-Salesperson” was released over the summer in digital and paperback formats.
“You can be a duffer lobbing the ball, or you can be in Wimbledon, center court,” the longtime Los Altos resident said of interviewing skills. “Same racket, same ball, same court, but different way of applying it. The people who are playing in Wimbledon, you take each stroke and you break it down into little minute chunks, and you master each little chunk, and then you put it all together.”
This philosophy is evident in the compact 79-page book, which focuses on controlling the interview, answering common yet tricky questions and closing – ideas that may not necessarily come to mind when first preparing for an interview.
Fenyves, who said he has been interviewed more than 6,000 times during the course of his career, noted that closing – which he defines as “asking for a commitment … or immediate feedback from the interviewer while you are still in the interview” – is a topic rarely covered in-depth in books of the genre.
“Nobody talks about it,” he said. “One book (he found while doing research) that talked about closing said, ‘When can I expect to hear back from you?’ Well, that’s not really a closing question – because the answer is, ‘Next Friday.’ Now what’ve you got? Nothing. And next Friday you’ll get the email saying, ‘Thank you for your time, best wishes in your endeavors.’”
Fenyves retired earlier this year, shutting down James Moore & Associates, the Los Altos-based search firm specializing in high-tech fields that he launched in 1983.
It marked the end of a 42-year sales career Fenyves kick-started at age 12 when he sold newspapers on a street corner. That’s when Fenyves said he learned the importance of closing.
The Fenyves family moved to Canada during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Fenyves said his father, who worked as a tailor’s apprentice as a child, “believed in the value of work,” prompting him to search for a job at a young age as well.
As an adult, Fenyves said a newspaper ad caught his eye and he landed a job with the search firm Source EDP. The Toronto office ranked No. 35 out of 35 branches of the company when he got there, according to Fenyves, and his two colleagues quit within two months of his joining.
“I was the Canadian operation,” Fenyves said.
But the Canadian branch grew to No. 1, he added. He attributes his success to setting up better systems of instruction for trainees. After he became regional vice president of the company, he moved to California and founded James Moore & Associates.
Sales seems to be a family trade; Fenyves’s daughter now works as a telemarketer.
“Sales aptitude is like musical ability – you either are born with it or you’re not,” he said. “If success in life were dependent on musical ability, I’d be sleeping in a cardboard box on the freeway. But I have a lot of sales talent – my father had it, my daughter has it.”
“How to Sell Yourself” is available in digital format at no charge on iBooks and for $3.49 on Amazon, and in paperback on Amazon for $4.49.