If you’ve got through to an interview, then the chances are you’re in at least the top three or four people under consideration for the position, that is, you’re on the cusp of being offered the job — if you nail it.
Strategically, what that means is that you have very little to lose from a strong, bold ending. If you’ve had a good interview, it could seal the deal. If on the other hand, you’re not at your hottest, it could rescue you and see you through to the next round.
Go bold, or go home
How often have you ended an interview and walked out of the door with a fairly robust sense of what will happen next? Probably not all that often. The problem is likely to be familiar to you. You’re so relieved that two, three, or even four hours of intensive, high-focus questioning is over that you’re just happy to be finished.
That’s a mistake — you wouldn’t end a sales pitch without summarising your offer, leaving the best possible impression, and a sense of the next steps. So, don’t leave a job interview that way either.
Ask probing questions
Please don’t ask ‘when can I start?’ — you risk putting the interviewer off their stride and coming across as arrogant and over-confident. Even for more of a sales focused role or business, we recommend choosing a slightly more subtle question.
There are three categories of bold, closing questions you can ask:
– Process questions: These are simple queries aimed at finding out a little more about what will happen once you leave the interview room. For example: ‘What are the next steps?’ Or ‘how soon do you expect to be making a decision?’
– Clarification questions: You ought to ask at least one of these questions to identify whether there are parts of your experience or any of your skills that you need to elaborate on (if there’s no time, you can use your follow up note). For example: ‘Are there any areas of my experience or skill set that you’d like me to discuss in more detail?’ Or ‘Given what we’ve discussed today, do you have any concerns about my fit for this position?’
– ‘Do you love me’ questions: These are the boldest category of questions. You should carefully consider whether these questions, aimed at directly uncovering the hiring manager’s views of you, are appropriate for the context. Examples include: ‘Based on my background and skills, how well do I fit the profile of the candidate you’re looking for?’ Or, bolder still, ‘Based on my experience and this interview, is there any reason you wouldn’t hire me?’
There’s another category of questions; you might call them ‘what’s in it for me’ questions, that you’d be better off holding for a chat with HR or asking via your recruitment consultant, than addressing directly to the hiring manager. Asking about pay, benefits, holiday time, and so on, risks you appearing presumptive or purely self-interested — neither of which are traits a hiring manager is likely to admire.
Handshakes, eye-contact, and body language matter
If you’re a seasoned interviewer, these tips may seem obvious, but in our experience, they’re worth reiterating.
After the final questions have been asked, and you’ve answered, don’t immediately dive into packing up your things — you don’t want it to appear as though you’re desperate to escape. Stand up tall, offer your hand, look your interviewer in the eye, and thank them for their time and their insightful questions.
If it’s a panel interview, remember to shake the hand of everyone in the room individually, making eye contact with them and thanking them personally. We’ve heard of candidates only thanking the primary hiring manager, leaving others (perhaps future team members) feeling put out — thank everyone.
Remember to follow up
One of the many advantages of working with a recruitment consultant is that you can be sure they’re following up with the hiring manager, singing your praises, and keeping you top of mind once the interview is over.
If you’re at an interview off your own bat, however, you need to follow up once the interview is over. Send a short ‘thank you’ note to those with whom you interviewed, simply thanking them for their time and their questions and reiterating how excited you are about the opportunity (if you’re working with a recruiter they can pass these on for you).