Thursday, August 18, 2016

Close the Interview Well

Article originally posted on SharpHeels

Acing an interview isn’t about being the most qualified candidate or just answering all the questions perfectly. While those two factors are certainly important and help you stand out, your chances of being extended the job offer drastically decrease if you forget one crucial thing: properly closing the interview.

This goes beyond thanking an interviewer for their time or sending a thank-you note (both which are still necessary steps). But the vital part? You need to make sure there are no hesitations that you’re the right person for the job. It’s your final opportunity to stand out from your competition, and negate any last qualms an interviewer might have about you.

Here are some pointers to accomplish those two tasks:

Think of the hiring manager as a potential client. You already know that, throughout the interview, you need to sell yourself and prove why your skills match their needs. To help solidify this, before you leave at the end, ask about any hesitations they might have about hiring you for the position. Ideally there won’t be any, but if so, this gives you the chance to address their concerns.

If there are any, try to use specific metrics like numbers, percentages, dollar amounts, or time frames that apply to the responsibilities and challenges of the job. (You may want to do some research ahead of time to have these handy.) Hiring managers love quantifiable results since it shows that you can perform the job with some degree of real-world knowledge.

Even if you’re indifferent about the position, don’t let it show. For example: A candidate went to an interview for a position she wasn’t completely convinced was a good fit, but afterwards was very excited about it. However, even though she was the top candidate for the role, she didn’t receive an offer. Why? Her initial uncertainty about the opportunity was apparent to the first two people with whom she interviewed, and the hiring manager didn’t think she truly wanted the job.

Don’t make that same mistake! Always show excitement for the opportunity, or you could miss your chance at being hired. The easiest way to do this: tell them you’re interested!

Have some questions to ask in the last half of the interview. You need to come prepared! Not doing so can be perceived as lack of interest. If you anticipate meeting with multiple people, bring even more questions than usual. Repeating some questions with different interviewers is fine, since you’ll get different perspectives, but it’s better to err on the safe side and over-prepare.

This is also the time to inquire about certain facets of the position to ensure the position is the right fit for you – i.e. you need to decide what factors are most important to you at a job. (The interviewer, from experience, will know that you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you.)

Sample questions to ask:

  • What qualities have helped someone be successful in this role?
  • What do you see as being the greatest challenges?
  • Who will I interact with on a regular basis? Who do I report to?
  • How often does the staff meet?
  • What are the professional backgrounds of other members in the group?
  • What characteristics of the organization make it better than the competition?
  • What do you like best about this company? 

Topics to avoid:

  • Work-life balance: Everyone wants it, but an interview isn’t the right time to ask about it. Instead, ask what the regular working hours are, or if there are particular busy times for the department/company.
  • Salary, Benefits, and PTO: If the interviewer brings these topics up, that’s great, but you should never be the one to start that conversation. These items can be discussed once an offer is made.
  • Career Progression: It’s good to know how your career can grow within the organization, but be careful how you phrase the question. Don’t ask how long it will take for you to become a manager, but instead ask how others in this role have advanced. This also gives you an idea why the role is vacant without blatantly asking (another question you should avoid).

Don’t feel that you have to say yes if you’re offered the job on the spot. While that’s very exciting, accept the offer only if you’re ready. If you are, then congratulations! If you’re not absolutely sure, you can tell the hiring manager that you’re very interested in the position, but you need to discuss it with your significant other, or that you need a day to think about it. They shouldn’t pressure you to make a choice immediately — that’s a red flag. However, neither should you take a week to get back to them; they might start to think you don’t really want the job.

On the flip side of this, don’t be discouraged if it’s not offered to you right then. They might have more interviews scheduled or need to speak with your potential manager first before making a decision. It’s more common for that to happen than on-the-spot offers.

You need to know the next steps in the hiring process, and all you have to do is ask! This way, you can find out if more interviews will take place, the target hire and start date, and if you should prepare reference or work samples. This takes out the guesswork for what you can expect, and it also gives you a timeline for further follow-up.

In addition to thanking the interviewer for their time, you need to send a thank-you note within 24 hours. It seems easy enough, but it’s surprising how many candidates don’t write a sincere thank-you email after an interview. It’s one more opportunity to state your interest for the position and remind the interviewer why you would be a great fit, so it’s foolish to not take advantage of that. Make sure you personalize it for each person you met with, and always have someone proofread before you send! There’s nothing worse than receiving a thank-you note filled with spelling and grammatical errors. And I even once had someone send me a thank-you note after an interview with my name spelled wrong!  Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.

The Crucial Closing Stages of the Interviewing Process
It’s not always fair, but the best jobs may not necessarily go to someone with the best qualifications, but rather with the best interviewing skills. This is less lopsided than it appears, because having those skills indicates your degree of emotional intelligence, which is seen as an increasingly important component of any successful employee.

Thus, closing an interview properly is not a step to be overlooked. Make sure the hiring manager walks away from the interview confident that you’re the right person for the role – and keep that feeling going for the next few days, until the job offer is absolutely nailed down!

Read the original article posted on SharpHeels.

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