As the typical job interview comes to a close, and after the candidate has already been asked numerous questions, most hiring managers will wrap everything up with a final question for the candidate. How the candidate answers this question can dictate whether he or she leaves the interview with a BANG! or, more typically, with just a whimper.
Here is how this final question is usually phrased:
“Now, do you have any questions for me?”
The response from the typical candidate? It usually goes something like this:
“No, I think you’ve pretty much covered everything and answered all of my questions.”
On the other hand, if you are a well-prepared, well-rehearsed and savvy candidate you will instead respond with something like this:
“Well, you’ve certainly been quite thorough, but I do still have just a couple of questions. . . .”
And then you ask questions that you prepared in writing and in advance of the job interview. These questions may consist of questions that you anticipated would be asked during the interview, but which were not. Or, if—surprise!—the hiring manager did indeed ask all of your anticipated questions, then here is a question you can pose at this point:
“If I were to become your candidate of choice for this position, what would I have to do and accomplish in the first 12 months for you to be able to say, ‘I made a good hiring decision’?”
Or, perhaps you might word the question this way:
“What would the successful candidate for this position have to accomplish during, say, the first year on the job, for you to be able to say, ‘I made a good hiring decision’?”
These types of closing questions can certainly set you apart from most other candidates because they illustrate at least THREE key characteristics about you:
- You actually paid attention during the job interview;
- You have a genuine interest in the position; and
- You are focused on deliverables, i.e., results!
Make ‘Next Steps’ Question Your Last Step
After the hiring manager has answered your closing question, then you should pose just one more, the “next steps” question. Here is how you can effectively phrase the question:
“Thank you very much for taking the time to interview me today. I sincerely appreciate it.
“After learning more about the position today, I am even more excited about the career opportunity, and I can assure you that, if given the chance, I will prove to be a great addition to your team and your company.
“What are the NEXT STEPS in the hiring process and what can I do to make sure I remain in the process?”
Normally, the hiring manager will give a non-committal (and perhaps largely unresponsive) answer to your NEXT STEPS question, by saying something along these lines:
“Well, I’ve got a number of other candidates to interview, and after I’ve had a chance to do that, my staff and I will put our heads together and make a decision. You will of course be notified one way or the other.”
Now, do NOT be put off or discouraged if you get such a response from the hiring manger. Rarely does it accurately reflect how well he or she may think you did in the interview. Rather, it’s simply the “standard,” non-committal answer most hiring managers give to this type of question from a candidate. Why? Because it is the safest answer to give at this point in the hiring process.
Chances are, if you take the above approach when closing your end of the job interview, any job interview, you will be perceived as a candidate who definitely stands out from other candidates vying for the same position.
Unfortunately, here is what many, if not most, candidates will say at the end of the job interview:
“Thank you very much for taking the time to interview me today. I sincerely appreciate it. Good luck on filling the position.”
What?! You’re bowing out from further consideration? You’re already throwing in the towel because you didn’t get offered the job on the spot? Certainly, this type of response is bound to create these types of questions in the hiring manager’s mind. Yet far too many job candidates will close their end of a job interview by saying something precisely as inane as this!
Candidates who leave an interview by figuratively folding up their tent will definitely end the job interview with a whimper. On the other hand, if you take the advice offered in this post, you can significantly increase your chances of ending it with a BANG! and perhaps not only end up staying in contention, but ultimately becoming the candidate selected for the position!
Very soon after the interview (two to three days), follow up with a Thank You note/Follow-up message to the hiring manager. In that communication highlight the things the hiring manager said you would need to do and accomplish in the first year to be the successful candidate. Briefly outline how you can indeed accomplish those things.
More often than not, when the candidate consideration pool has been reduced to just two or three equally qualified, equally acceptable candidates, the candidate who is ultimately selected is the one who wrote the most compelling Thank You note/Follow up message.
This post is an excerpt from Career Stalled? How to Get Your Career Back in HIGH Gear and Land the Job You Deserve—Your DREAM Job!