The final moments of a first impression: 5 ways to end a job interview on the right note

It’s happened to every seasoned professional at one time or another. You absolutely aced the job interview and feel like you made a genuine connection with the hiring manager. Walking out of the meeting, you can’t help but begin mentally arranging your desk at your soon-to-be new job. There’s only one problem. That was weeks ago, and you haven’t heard so much as a peep from anyone at the company since the interview. It’s an incredibly frequent and frustrating experience for the modern job seeker. 

While racking their brains in pursuit of an answer as to where everything went wrong, the vast majority of people fail to consider that they may not have ended their employment interview quite as strongly as they could have. Read on to learn five strategies for ending a job interview on the right note.

First and final job interview impressions

The first few moments of a job interview tend to be the most nerve-wracking for many candidates. On the surface, initial introductions and the exchanging of pleasantries are mere formalities preceding the meat and potatoes of any meaningful employment interview, usually consisting of business-centric discussions centered on the candidate’s skills, personality, and prior accomplishments. However, on a deeper, more psychological level, both interviewee and interviewer are well aware that opinions and perceptions begin to crystalize long before any job interview “officially” starts.

Such early interactions within a hiring context are often rife with possibilities for awkward exchanges, disastrous miscommunications, or flatout embarrassing mistakes. As such, most job candidates and interviewees tend to relax considerably after settling into their surroundings and becoming acclimated to the interviewer’s personality and demeanor. This usually only takes a few minutes or less, and depending on how the technical side of the discussion goes, plenty of job seekers find themselves feeling much more mellow by the end of the interview.

Countless interviewees make the common mistake of assuming a smooth interview means they’ve already landed the job. Never fall for this habitual pitfall. The interviewer may be treating you like an old friend near the tail end of the meeting, and could even drop a few not-so-subtle hints that they’ll be seeing you around the office sooner rather than later. While behaviors like those can certainly be encouraging, it’s imperative to finish every job interview just as confidently and laser-focused as you were when the meeting began. The last thing you want to do is show decisionmakers you have a habit of taking your eye off the ball just before crossing the finishing line. 

Let’s take a look at a few ways to help ensure your final impression during a job interview is just as memorable as the first.

Highlight your qualifications one more time

Always take the time to reiterate your most attractive skills and impressive prior accomplishments before wrapping up an interview. While you almost certainly will have already discussed such subject matter extensively earlier in the interview, simply mentioning those topics one more time is a quick and simple way of ensuring your unique achievements remain fresh in the interviewer’s mind.

Questions, questions, and more questions

A job interview isn’t the time and place for shyness. Near the tail end of the interview expect the person conducting the meeting to ask if you have any questions for them. Don’t waste this fantastic opportunity to showcase just how diligently you’ve researched the company and position. Having a few well thought-out questions ready to go will tell the interviewer you’re serious about succeeding in the open job position. For example, you may want to ask about company culture, the manner and timing of performance reviews, or what the interviewer themselves believes is the best part about working at the company.

Be direct

The job market is massive, and tons of candidates like to line up multiple interviews over the course of a week, or even during the same day, in an effort to explore all possible options. There’s nothing wrong with performing a thorough job search, but seasoned hiring managers can usually pick up on indecisiveness or hesitancy in a candidate quickly. If you already know that you absolutely want the job, don’t mince words. Before saying goodbye very directly tell the interviewer that you want this job and you know that you would absolutely thrive in the position given the opportunity.

Show you aren’t afraid of hard work

Everyone prefers discussing bonuses and salaries to problem areas and business bottlenecks, but focusing too heavily on the perks of a position has sabotaged numerous interviews for candidates a bit too eager to start counting vacation days before ever being hired in the first place. 

Compensation and benefits packages, of course, are integral to striking the right deal, but ending the entire interview on such matters isn’t ideal. Instead, consider asking about some of the toughest challenges you may encounter in the position being filled. This produces a two-pronged benefit: You will be provided with further information so as to facilitate a more informed decision, and the organization is left with the impression you are a go-getter who can’t wait to tackle the biggest issues lying ahead.

Clarify what happens next 

The relief and excitement stemming from a successful interview spurs many candidates to say their goodbyes quickly. While understandable, this approach neglects integral logistical considerations that will likely determine how the next phase of the hiring process plays out. Don’t rush out the office doors before first asking the interviewer one more time if there’s anything else they need from you. Examples include a few more copies of your resume, contact information for references, or perhaps a portfolio showcasing your work in greater detail. Besides that, be sure to enquire about what happens next; “when can I expect to hear back from you regarding my candidacy for the position?” 

Finally, while not all hiring managers will be willing, if you feel you’ve formed a friendly rapport with your interviewer, consider asking for their contact information directly. That way, even if you don’t hear back within a timely manner, you’ll have a way to reach out yourself in pursuit of some answers.