While it’s not the first time I’ve ever written about this issue (see my “How Would Goldilocks Close An Interview?” article from last year) I’ve had a lot of people recently ask me about how to “close” an interview effectively — so I thought I’d not only remind people of the previous article above, but share a few additional thoughts on the matter.
Simply put, the end of any interview is “prime time” in terms of leaving an indelibly positive impression on the hiring manager that causes them to think fondly of you in the hours, days, or weeks after you’ve left their office. And yet, coming up with just the right closing argument can be trickier than it seems. You obviously don’t want to slink out of the interviewer’s office with a weak handshake and the utterance of a simple, non-committal platitude such as “thanks for your time” or something along those lines. At the same time, this isn’t New York. Ambushing the interviewer with a closing question like “Did I land the job?” or “Do you have any reservations about my candidacy, now that we’ve talked?” is pretty much guaranteed to freak out the passive/aggressive sensibilities of anybody raised West of the Rockies!
So drafting and practicing an upbeat, balanced, and respectful closing statement is paramount if you’re serious about improving your interviewing skills. The trick is to clearly signal to the interviewer that you’re interested in the job, and confident you can meet your expectations, but to stop short of any language that might sound pushy or arrogant. Something like the following usually works well:
“It was great meeting you, John. Thanks for your time — and honestly, given everything you’ve shared about the job and some of the key issues it sounds like you’re facing, I’m even more confident than before I walked in that I’d be able to knock this assignment out of the park if given the chance. It’s right up my alley in terms of the kind of assignment and challenge I’m seeking right now. So while I’m sure you’ve got quite a few talented people to choose from, given market conditions out there, please consider me a seriously interested candidate — and I hope I have the chance to come work for you and your team.”
Honestly, if the majority of job hunters simply memorized the statement above (changing the appropriate details, of course) and recited it at the end of every interview they went on, they’d significantly improve their success rate. Not only does this kind of message strike all the right chords, in terms of ending the conversation on a positive note, but it’s also got one other thing going for it. At the end of the script, the “I hope to have the chance to come work for you and your team” statement creates a degree of personal engagement with the hiring manager — which is a critical factor in getting them to take your candidacy seriously and not write you off or treat you as a faceless applicant they can easily dismiss.
(not to go all “Psychology 101” on you, but along the lines above, there’s ample evidence that one key to selling yourself is to get the person across the desk to view you as an actual human being, not just a quasi-anonymous job applicant. You can read more about this phenomenon in another blog article of mine here, if you’re interested.)
So if you’ve got a big interview coming up, don’t just focus on the Q&A component alone and the various qualifications you’ll be stressing throughout the course of the meeting. Spend some time, as well, strategizing (and practicing) how you’ll “stick the landing” at the end of the discussion with a positive, engaging closing statement.
P.S. I did run across one job hunter (I forget who, exactly) who told me that whenever she’s asked “Do you have any questions for us?” at the end of an interview, she responds with “Just one – when do I start?” I’m not sure I’d recommend this semi-cheeky response for the MAJORITY of interviewees, but I admire the gumption, nonetheless!