The interview is almost done. So far, you’ve nailed the entire process. You showed up early, dressed nicely, answered every question, even every complex behavioral interview question, and comfortably and talked about your experience and qualifications confidently.
You’re almost there, but there’s one more step that you don’t want to mess up.
First impressions matter, but so does the last one. Make it a goal that before you leave the interview, the hiring manager has already made up his or her mind to hire you. Make them realize you’re the right candidate before you walk out the door.
One of the best ways to accomplish that is by ending the interview well. Close the interview like you might close a sale. Make your skills, experience and personality irresistible.
It might seem strange to think about, but believe it or not, closing the interview is one of the most important and effective techniques to master before your next interview.
Here are 10 ways to leave the interview on a good note.
1: Sincerely thank your interviewers for their time
This should go without saying, but you might be surprised at how often a simple thank you doesn’t happen at the end, or if it does, it’s an uneventful “Okay, thanks”.
Remember that you’re not just giving the hiring manager a pleasantry, here. You are genuinely thanking them for taking their time to consider you for employment. So, thank them!
Say something like “Thanks so much for your time, I really appreciate it.” Or “I very much appreciate you taking the time with me this morning.”
Make them believe that you’re sincerely thanking them.
2: Ask a question, even if you don’t have one
Too many of my interviewees did not ask questions of the position or the organization, and that almost always comes across bad. It indicates to the hiring manager that you’re just there for the job and probably didn’t do much in the way of research about the company or position.
“Actually, I think you already answered all of my questions” isn’t the right answer.
Instead, have several questions ready to go.
Ask things like, “I noticed that one of the benefits of working for this company is attending paid conferences. Can employees choose the conferences they go to?”
Or, “One of your biggest competitors is XYZ. I’m curious how you’re able to out-perform them”.
Get creative, but be prepared to ask a question or two at the end of the interview.
3: Practice your handshake
This might seem superficial, but a firm handshake at the end of the interview is a sign of confidence and experience. Practice with friends or family, and don’t be afraid to initiate the handshake, either.
Give a firm handshake and make eye contact during the shake. I always like to let the hiring manager end the shake (unless it gets too awkward because neither party wants to end it!).
The more you practice, the better you’ll get. And, I could always instantly tell someone who took the time to practice their hand shake. Believe it or not, it makes a difference.
4: Confirm your interest in the position
Don’t forget to reiterate your interest in the position and working for the company.
Use something like, “I think this role is perfect for me. I’ve worked in the industry for XX years and, frankly, I’m very passionate about this work.”
Or, “I have always wanted to work for a small business so I can get more involved in the company and make a real difference. This seems like the perfect position for me”.
5: Restate why you’re the perfect candidate
After confirming your interest, quickly (and I do mean quickly) restate why you’re the best candidate for the job. Briefly hit on the top one or two skills that make you a perfect fit. Don’t ramble. Instead, take just a few moments to summarize why your skills match the position.
“As I said earlier, I’ve worked for XX years on exactly this system and completely transformed the way my previous company did business, and I’m confident those skills can work great here.”
6: Ask about short-term goals of the position
Here is an end-of-interview tip that can make a huge difference: Ask a pointed question about the short term goals of the position.
This question shows that you’re proactively looking to “hit the ground running” if you’re hired. And, it clearly indicates to the hiring manager that you care about making a difference in the job, not simply filling a billable slot at the company.
“What are some of the shorter-term goals of the position?” Or, “What are the goals of this position over the next 120 days?”
This is an easy question to ask, but you’ll often get a lot of mileage out of it.
7: Find out about training opportunities on the job
Expressing an interest in improving your skills outside of just your job responsibilities tells the hiring manager that you’re serious and motivated and looking to boost your value.
Ask about things like attending conferences or in-house training seminars, or even web-based classes to improve your skills (ie: Skillport, Lynda, etc). Even if there aren’t many opportunities available, simply asking about them could impress the hiring manager.
8: Address any shortfalls/mistakes from the interview
During the interview, you may have stumbled over an answer, or something just didn’t come across the way you had expected. While it’s sometimes a good idea to just let those things go, it can be helpful to clarify a mistake from earlier in the interview before you leave.
For example, “I know earlier in the interview I messed up on one of my answers, but I wanted to say that one of my best skills is finding answers to questions that I don’t know. To do that, I use resources like Google, forums, etc, etc, etc.”
9: Understand the next steps
Don’t leave the interview without asking a quick question about the next steps, which shows you’re eager and proactive. Usually, the hiring manager will tell you a little bit about the schedule for the interviews and when they expect to make a decision.
Ask a question like, “Are there any next steps that I need to take?”, or “How quickly are you looking to fill this position?”
10: Write a thank you note (make it hand-written for extra points)
One of the easiest things to do after an interview is to send a thank you note to the hiring manager. An email can work, but a typed letter is even better. Or, I’ve occasionally gotten hand-written notes, and those always made me stop in my tracks because I didn’t get very many candidates who took the time to hand write a thank you.
In fact, I’ve pulled a resume out from underneath the “discard” stack to re-check it after getting a hand-written thank you note from that candidate. It meant a lot, and I can assure you that taking the extra time to write a hand-written note will get the attention of a lot of hiring managers.
Remember, finishing the interview strong is just as important as your first impression. Use this time to make it extra clear that you’re not just looking for a job. Instead, you’re serious and determined to add value to the organization and motivated to make a positive impact.
Believe me when I say that it will make a difference.