4 Steps to Closing Your Next Interview Like A Pro

Mark's picture

You may have read interview prep materials that suggest asking for the job,  but clearly they don’t mean, “So, did I get the job?” or “When can I start?”--baldly asking if you can have the job, but the point that is often missed with that tip is one that every salesperson knows well:  Until a prospect reveals the truth about what he or she is thinking during the sales process, no salesperson--no matter how good--can move in the direction of getting the sale.  I prefer a “softer” close to the interview, with the exact same purpose of getting the hiring manager to reveal any concerns they are thinking, so that the candidate can address them.  As the phone interview is ending, the candidate should do everything possible to provide a space for the hiring manager to raise any lingering concerns so those can be addressed before the call ends.  The candidate’s close to the interview should have 4 parts:  1. Thank the manager again for their time.  2. Reiterate interest in the position.  3. Reiterate his or her qualifications for the job.  4. Confirm there is no more information that is needed to take the next step.

1.       Thank the manager again for their time.  I hate to use the word “duh” in an article, so I’ll just say that if the candidate is not being overly gracious, they are just shooting themselves in the foot.

Candidate:  “Thank you again for your time.”

2.       Reiterate interest in the position.  It is incredible how simply saying that you are interested and excited about the position can be the difference between getting to the next step in the process and getting “screened out.”  Every hiring manager wants enthusiasm and energy on their team and just hearing once more that the candidate is interested and wants to move forward may be the difference.

Candidate:  “I just want to say that our conversation has made me even more interested in this position.”

3.       Reiterate that you are qualified for the job.  This is where the careful messaging comes full circle in the interview.  If you've read my article on the important First 10 Minutes of the interview, then go back to those X, Y, and Z skills that the manager identified early in the conversation and briefly remind the hiring manager of the examples he or she brought up early on in the conversation.  It also demonstrates to the hiring manager that the candidate is listening to what they are saying and value it.

Candidate:  “As far as being a team-player [or whatever skill they mentioned], I believe I have demonstrated that in the example we discussed earlier about that deadline I had where I rallied the troops.  As far as being resourceful [or skill #2 from the interviewer], I hope that the example we discussed about that research project I did at X Company will prove that I keep looking for a solution, and as far as [any other skills that have come up] I think the example of blah, blah, blah. . . proves that I have that skill.”  

4.       Confirm there is no more information that is needed to take the next step.  It is important that the manager is given an opportunity to ask any further questions that are needed, and a direct question opening the floor can be a great help.  

Candidate:  “My only question is, do you have any concerns about me performing well in this position?”

This last question can appear quite bold, but it is so important.  Every manager has their own prejudices that affect their decisions.  I’m not talking about illegal prejudices of course, but simply pre-conceived ideas about what is important or valuable.  It is also possible that throughout the phone conversation the candidate will have raised a concern with the hiring manager that to this point is still unspoken, but that will prevent the manager from taking the next step.  Giving the manager the opportunity to voice that concern can be the difference between getting the job and losing.  I personally experienced this early in my career where I did just that and can’t imagine what would have happened if I avoided the question.

While interviewing for my very first job in staffing, I had finally gotten to the last interview stage—even after sweating so profusely during one part of the interview that the interviewer offered to get me a towel!  As the interview wound to a close, my future manager asked me, “Do you have any more questions?”  I responded by thanking her for the interview, telling her how interested in the job I was, and (skipping the 3rd step since I had not yet learned to do it) asked her, “My only question is: Do you have any concerns about me performing well in this position?”  She looked me right in the eyes and responded, “I don’t think you have the drive to do this job!”  OUCH!  After stumbling from the blow I’d just received, I recovered and countered politely, “Well, I’m not sure why you would think that, but in my current position I created the position I have now by going to my manager and recommending he reorganize how my job was structured.  My success in the job led him to reorganize the entire department in line with my recommendations, so I think I do have the initiative and drive to do this job.”  As I’m sure is clear—or I wouldn’t be using this story—I got the job, but maybe only because she gave me a chance to address her concern and convince her otherwise before we left the interview, which she wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t asked.

So use the 4 steps and close out the interview well:

1.       Thank them for their time

2.       Reiterate your interest

3.       Reiterate your qualifications

4.       Ask the closing question, “Do you have any concerns that would prevent you from interviewing me in person?”

...because who you work with matters.