It will be obvious when the interview is drawing to a close. Only three things can happen at this stage:
- You’ll be asked back for a second interview.
- You’ll receive an offer.
- You’ll be rejected based on this interview.
Obviously, you want to leave every interview with either the first or second outcome. You’ll recall that your objective in any interview is to solicit an offer that would make you want to accept the position. Put another way, you can’t accept or reject an offer that is never made!
At the conclusion of the interview, there are 3 things you need to accomplish:
- Tell the key interviewer (probably also your supervisor-to-be) that you are interested in working not only for the firm, but for him personally. Interviewers like to hear positive things, too. If the “chemistry” is good between you, he needs to know it so he’ll go to bat for you.
- Summarize what you can do to solve what you perceive to be the employer’s greatest problem.
- Determine what the next step in the process will be (2nd interview, tests, physicals, reference checks, etc.). It is critical that you have the correct spelling of the names of the people you have met, their titles and addresses. If a second interview is the next likely step, be sure also to get the names and titles of those who you’ll see on that interview.
The close is an excellent time to probe the interviewer with questions about how they see your strengths and shortcomings. It is also timely to reinforce your abilities. Do not show disappointment if you don’t receive encouragement at this stage – it can very well be one final test of your ability to deal gracefully with rejection. It is perfectly OK to ask when you can expect to hear from the employer, but you should not mention other opportunities for which you are being considered. We’ll communicate that to them during our debriefing.
Close with a firm handshake and a sincere “thank-you” to the interviewer for his time. As soon as possible call us so we can effectively follow up in your behalf. Let us take advantage of our 3rd party status to learn about the employer’s interest level and concerns.
Good taste dictates that you should mail a follow-up letter within 24 hours! It should be typed (or neatly written) and addressed to the main interviewer or the person to whom you’ll report. The letter should again thank them for their time and consideration and ask for the job! It should portray you as being confident and ready to meet the challenges of the position. By mentioning the others with whom you talked, it will be obvious that you were attentive, interested in the needs of the employer and anxious to be a member of their team.
The timing of this letter’s arrival is critical since one of its purposes is to distinguish you from other interviewees the company may have seen in the interim. Another objective of the letter is to demonstrate your writing ability. It also presents an excellent opportunity to recap your problem solving abilities and make specific mention of major projects or tasks that the company wants to address in this hire.
Having said all this, it is good to remember that common sense is the most important thing you can bring to any interview. Interviews are, after all, a purposeful exchange between two parties with common interests. There is no substitute for good preparation and conscious effort in preparing for good interviews. However, your ability to “think on your feet” may well separate you from the crowd. You may not succeed on every interview but you’ll clearly improve your odds of success with every good attempt you make! As Vince Lombardi once said, “practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”