The end of an interview is a lost opportunity for many. You may have read interview coaching materials that suggest that ask you close out the interview by asking for the job, but clearly they don’t mean for you to ask, “So, did I get the job?” or “When can I start?” Baldly asking if you can have the job is likely a good way to make the interviewer uncomfortable, but the point that is often missed when dismissing the advice 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. In the case of an interivew, the “prospect” is of course the potential hiring decision-maker, the “salesperson” is you as the candidate, and the “sale” is the job, so this could be rephrased,
“Until a hiring decision-maker reveals the truth about what he or she is thinking during the interview process, no candidate can move in the direction of getting the job.”
It’s important to elicit the hiring manager’s concerns and even objections to hiring you in the interview, but asking baldly if they intend to hire you may be a little too direct, so I prefer a “softer” close to the interview, but with the exact same purpose of getting the hiring manager to reveal any concerns they are thinking, so that you can address them. It’s important you provide a comfortable space for the hiring manager to raise any lingering concerns so those can be addressed before the interview ends. Here’s how to do just that in 4 simple steps: 1. Thank the manager again for their time. 2. Reiterate your interest in the position. 3. Reiterate your 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 you’re not being overly gracious and thankful for their time, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Don’t forget to say it one more time at the end.
Candidate: “Thank you again for your time.”
2. Reiterate your 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 not. Every hiring manager wants enthusiasm and energy on their team and just hearing once more that you are interested and want to move forward may be the difference. Even if you’re not 100% sure this is true, fake it until you make it and say,
Candidate: “I just want to say that our conversation today 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 you brought up early on in the conversation. It also demonstrates to the hiring manager that you are listening to what they are saying and value their thoughts and insight.
Candidate: “I belive I have all ths skills you’re looking for to be successful in this job. As far as being a team-player [or whatever X 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 Y from the interviewer], I hope that the example we discussed about that research project I did at my last employer 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 is a little bold, but it is SO important. Every manager–and person for that matter–has their own prejudices that affect their decisions. I’m not talking about illegal prejudices of course (there’s not much getting around those without lawyering up), I mean their pre-conceived ideas about what is important or valuable in this job. It usually applies to some experience the hiring manager has that you don’t, and even though it’s not critical to success in the job, they feel it is important becuase they have that skill and so they overvalue it in their selection criteria. It is also possible that during the interview you will have raised a concern with the hiring manager that they have not spoken, but which may well discourage them from taking the next step. Giving the hiring decision-maker the opportunity to voice that concern can be the difference between getting the job and losing it.
I personally experienced the success that can come from asking this direct question early in my career and can’t imagine where I would be now if I’d avoided it. While interviewing for my very first job in recruiting, 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, “Do you have any concerns about me performing well in this position?” Well, 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 you’ve guessed (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. I still wonder what she would have decided if I hadn’t asked. I surely don’t regret asking her if she thought I had the chops.
So use these 4 steps next time you get a chance, 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 performing well in the job?”
Mark Tyrrell is the Managing Partner and a founder of Right Resources and has recruited professionals in the DC/Baltimore area since 2004. He graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelors in Business Administration and started his career as an ERP consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting. He has staffed positions for some of the most respected companies in Baltimore, including Constellation, Computer Sciences Corporation, Black & Decker, and Edaptive Systems. He lives near Baltimore with his wife and two beautiful children and is humbly grateful for all the opportunities God has provided, including this company.