Focus: The end of the interview is the last major part of the actual interview that we will dissect.
I was working with a candidate on a job search. We started the interview off with the introductions. His training for the Elevator Background Pitch, helped him nail the beginning of the interview. It was concise and to the point. The interview progressed to the question and answer session. Everything seemed to be going very well up to this point in the interview. The hiring authority concluded by telling him that he like his background a lot. He then asked if he had any questions. This is where the candidate got into trouble. The flood gates opened up and jeopardized what seemed to be an excellent interview.
The candidate kept asking questions, starting with some of the basics. For example, what time he would need to get into the office daily? He continued, then turned toward my specific questions. Question after question, covering almost every topic that one could think of when participating in an interview. At first, I admired his attention to detail- but this was overkill. If he were a construction demolition guy, I would have hired him. He got everything from the kitchen sink to the tiling on the floor.
The straw that broke the camel’s back that day might have been when he asked about dental insurance. Unless you’re looking for a Dentist recommendation, you shouldn’t be asking this in an interview. These extra questions had already caused the interview to run 10 minutes over the scheduled time frame. The hiring authority interrupted and said “thank you, but I have to go to my other meeting. I’m 10 minutes late,” and hung up his phone. Unfortunately, this was not the lasting impression he wanted to leave. As a result, he was not selected.
Prepping for the end of the interview would have helped.
Candidates don’t know how to bring the interview to an end. They fail to ask the right questions at the right time and don’t leave a lasting impression by the end of the interview. They lack a go-to technique to use at the end of the interview. Today we will only be focusing on the candidate’s responsibility to put their best foot forward during an interview. By the end of this blog, you’ll know how to leave a great impression and get the job offer or move forward in the hiring process.
The questions asked during an interview or hiring process will be most important when deciding on which role you should take. Candidates do not ask questions for a variety of reasons. For example, they’re fearful that they may get eliminated from the pool of candidates. They might not feel comfortable asking a question face to face setting with a new stranger. The candidates don’t ask the right questions about an opportunity at the right time. Not asking the right questions lead them to not being able to perform their best when they need to set themselves apart at the end of the process.
Without setting themselves apart, candidates fail to leave a lasting impression on the hiring authority. Something that makes them stand out against other candidates. A lack of questions and follow up can mean bad news for a candidate. They expect to hear back from the company or end up having some miscommunication instead. The number of candidates that have told me they interviewed with a couple several months back and had not heard from them is numerous.
These are all missed opportunities. Whether by choice or not, candidates can burn a bridge with an organization. Especially if you’re hiring authority is in a leadership capacity. You should always thank them for the opportunity to be considered. It’s the easiest way to keep the door open with the company. But the advice doesn’t stop here.
The close of each interview is critical in that it leaves a lasting impression on someone. So you want it to be a good one.
Performing well in all phases of the interview comes down to preparation. Like a storybook, there is a beginning, middle and now the end of an interview. Asking the right questions at the right time, coupled with ample preparation will ensure you get the job. You should be able to nail an interview for any role that you want. You will have the tools, yet you must be able to perform the technique I’m about to share. Now let’s talk about closing techniques for interviews. For the end of the interview, I use the abbreviation QSN. This stands for “Questions, Sales, and Next Steps.” The best candidates use these 3 steps to close out their interviews.
When coaching professionals on opportunities, I recommend trusting your gut and instincts. They are not wrong! So if there is something that seems off or might be troublesome about the role, it’s better to address it on the front end. Before you accept an offer, make sure that you have your questions answered.
Here are 6 quick tips on how to end the interview and leave a lasting impression:
- Don’t ask yourself out of a job
- Set up your close early
- Questions I always recommend to ask
- How to get answers to your sticky questions
- How to close your interviews
- Thank them
Tip 1: Don’t ask yourself out of a job
A couple of good questions at the end of the interview show interest and engagement. More than 5 becomes overbearing and can change what was once a positive impression. It may give the interviewer the impression that you’ll be asking tons of questions about every assignment you receive. Remember- your future boss/coworker is looking for professionals to help them take things off their plate, not add to it. Don’t ask more than 5 questions unless you are unclear or uncomfortable with the amount of knowledge you’ve received throughout the interview.
If you’re still left with questions, ask the interviewer if they are open to connecting on LinkedIn. Another technique is to ask for permission. Tell them that you are good for now but would like to send them an email if something comes to mind. I have never heard a hiring manager saying no to this request. You don’t want to annoy or pester them afterward, but you do want to get your must-have questions answered. Before making any decisions, have everything laid out in writing. Make sure it is in writing in the documents provided. There should be a clear understanding of the role, responsibilities, and compensation.
Tip 2: Set up your close early
The higher the quality of your questions, the greater you’ll benefit in setting up your close. Before your final interview, you should have a good sense of what they are looking for in a candidate. Take note of how each person has answered your questions. Now take time to examine where they were coming or running from. Where they running from something or attracted to something? Did they tell you what they want or what they did not want? People give off subtle clues of what it will be like to work with them. This is something I like others to be aware of while interviewing.
Prepare your close by thinking about your conversations with the interviewer thus far. Speak to them in their terms. What I mean by that is to match your delivery to their preference. If they told you what they didn’t want, explain to them what they will not have to experience with you. On the other hand, if they tell you what they are looking for, then make sure your points highlight that. This way, your close is individually tailored to each professional you interview with during the hiring process. We will discuss in-depth how to fully close your interviews later in the post. The main point is to remember that if they give you fears, take them away; if they gave you hope, give them more confidence you can get them there.
Tip 3: (2) Question I always recommend to have in your arsenal
As mentioned in the 5 Ways To Prep For Your Interview
Ask if there are any concerns or doubts about your background or skills that you can go into further detail about.
Last, what are the next steps in the process?
Take their answer with a grain of salt as they and their organizations are busy. They could have a variety of things come up in between the time you last spoke. They could be under attack, going through an audit, or a decision-maker might be out of the office. These delays happen many times when a Sr. Executive is out on vacation or at a conference. You might find out the position was approved but not yet budgeted for. It might take longer to get that final approval on the hire.
If you have gone through several interviews, you’ll most likely be nearing the end of the entire interview process. We will cover how to handle an offer in a later blog post, but that is the ultimate goal at this point. Shifting leverage 100% in your direction by leaving a lasting impression and taking away any concerns the hiring authority might have at the end. Once you have the next steps in the process, you know when to follow up next if you haven’t heard anything. This is why it is best to have a recruiter on your side covering the details for you.
Tip 4: Sticky questions
Whatever questions you’re uncomfortable asking during an interview, make sure you get it addressed! There are several simple steps you can take. For example, write an email after the interview with the question(s), especially if it’s something you need to know to make an informed decision. But ask the question tactfully. You’ll have had time to reflect on why you were uncomfortable asking that question. A job is like a marriage in terms of the amount of time spent with others. If it’s a bad decision, it becomes apparent and breakups can be painful. You go out on dates before you get married. Similarly, you ask several questions to make sure it’s right for you as well as your partner. Some are easier questions than others to ask, but they are what you need to make your decision.
If you have a recruiter, you should feel comfortable asking them any question at any time. Recruiters should be a resource for you at all times. They gather information from HR and the hiring authority in order to answer your questions in a timely fashion. If they do not have the answer or try to find the answer for you, then you should find another recruiter. No matter how small or large your question is, it is ok to ask your recruiter. They are there to be a sounding board during your decision-making process. Part of what recruiters are there for is to represent the organization in the best light. The other part is to make sure you’re a good cultural fit. Recruiters know they must consider the candidate they submit represents them as well.
If you have a chance to get eliminated at the front end of an interview process, it is much better than getting fired on the backend of a hiring process. If you don’t speak up and get your questions answered, then it’s your fault. You have to ask the hard questions on the front end. Comfortable or not, this is something that could be prevented or a risk averted. If you want your experience to be a positive one, you must ask the sticky questions.
Tip 5: Close the sales deal but be courteous!
You will gain an advantage by preparing for the interview close. Now that the hiring authorities have answered your questions, it’s time to turn to sales. Through the course of the hiring process, you have learned what they are looking for and not. You should be frank with them by reiterating to them why you think/feel/believe you’re qualified for the role and why you can do the performance objectives. Then tell them that you are interested in moving forward. If it is the last interview in the process, let them know when you could get started. A professional 2 weeks’ notice unless there is another contractual obligation.
“I believe my 15 years of Cyber Security Leadership and building successful security programs from scratch uniquely qualify me for this role.” Since I have 10 years of experience and you are looking for 8 make me qualified for x,y,z. Furthermore, I think my demonstrated strategy skills in building out teams to execute within budget and time frames set. I feel my 10+ years of Security Architecture at (similar size organization such as A, B, C) I think of these and the entirety my experience demonstrates my capability to successfully…”
Make sure to stop for a brief moment. Let them talk. The information they share with you next will give you a sense of where things stand. It is important to highlight to them why you’re interested. A hiring manager should have the impression that you are genuinely interested in the role. Eliminate any doubt in their mind and let them know you’re interested in moving forward.
Tip #6 Thank them
Thank your interviewer regardless of your views on the position. Even if it is not a fit.Thank them for their time in interviewing with you. Always do it towards the end and be sure to say it again when you shake their hand or hang up the phone. Also, hang up the phone! Conference lines show how many people are on at a given time. So it becomes clear and awkward if a hiring authority stays on the line right after an interview with you as a candidate right there. This is a critical time when a recruiter should be speaking with the hiring authority confidentially to understand if they thought you were qualified.
Now while you still have the sales bullets loaded in your gun, be sure to write them a thank you note. The thank-you note should be broken down into two categories: the understanding of the role and gently reminding them of your qualifications. Having a physical thank you note can come in handy. Hiring authorities can store or save the thank you emails quickly but they might post your note on their desk. This could come in handy as a strategic advantage.
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