Unless you’re blindsided with an abrupt end to the job interview process, I’m guessing you can sense when things are wrapping up. Whether you hear the interviewer say, “Just one more question…”, or “Well that just about does it” you can sense the end is drawing near. So in those last couple of minutes what should you do?
One thing you shouldn’t do is plan on playing things by ear and winging it. The people who tend to make things up on the fly typically don’t succeed well; these are the folks who 5 minutes after they’ve left the interview room say to themselves, “Oh I forgot to say…!”
What you say does depend on two critical things: 1) As the interview winds down are you still interested in competing for the job based on what you’ve heard and experienced and 2) Has the interview gone positively or not up to that point? This is the challenge for any applicant; continue to answer the questions and stayed focused on the process you are involved in while simultaneously detaching yourself so you can constantly evaluate how things are transpiring.
Let’s assume first that the interview is going well and that you really like what you are hearing and seeing from the employer. Your confidence is high and you want this job more than you did when you first came into the room. Ah yes, the ideal scenario! In this case, you want to leave expressing your enthusiasm for the job and what it entails. As you wrap up, what you really want is to know how the process moves forward. Once you walk out of the interview you’re in the dark otherwise.
Certainly offer your hand with confidence and a smile, making contact as you do. Leave them with a final closing statement: “You’ve done an excellent job at raising my anticipation and excitement at the prospect of joining your team. I’m confident that in choosing me as the successful applicant for this position we will have a productive and mutually beneficial relationship. I look forward to hearing from next Tuesday as you’ve said. Thank you!”
There’s assertiveness in the above statements. It’s not all about you or them but rather the start of a mutually beneficial relationship. You’ve complimented them on raising your anticipation of working there and who doesn’t like to hear they’ve done a good job themselves? You’ve also reaffirmed the timeline they’ve indicated and used your manners by expressing your thanks and appreciation.
Let’s look at another scenario. You’ve become disenchanted with the job opening as the role is explained to you or you’ve picked up that for whatever reason this isn’t going to be a good fit. Should you continue with the interview and waste both your time and theirs or sit through what are the final few minutes out of some kind of respect for the process? My advice is to end things and leave with dignity and class. “If I may, I have great respect for your time as you go about finding the right person for this position. For this reason, I feel it only fair to say that from what I’ve learned today, this isn’t going to be the best fit for either of us but I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have met you.”
You may find this catches the interviewer by surprise and they might ask what’s changed. The situation is reversed now from what is often the case where the applicant is rejected and wants to know why or what they could do in the future to better compete. In this situation it is the interviewer who might want feedback. It’s up to you what if anything you say, but I will tell you that I’ve counselled people for some time to use this strategy and every so often if the employer is really impressed with the applicant up to this point, they make some concession in a negotiating effort to retain the person’s services. More responsibility, a title that fits better, re-packaging the compensation package.
One thing to bear in mind as well with the above is that while this particular opportunity didn’t come out in the end as the best personal fit, you might wish to apply for a different role with the same company or re-think things in the future and reapply for the same position. So best to ease out of the interview process with gratitude for their time and with some class.
Every so often when I hear from a person who has just left an interview, they tell me that they forgot to ask something which is really significant to them. They had expected to ask a certain question if the information wasn’t given to them but they completely forgot. What to do? Why not pick up the phone, ask to speak with them directly and ask your question? You can do that? They won’t think you’re daft? No. Interviewers will generally appreciate the fact that you’re still very much actively engaged in the thought process. In some cases you might email them with your question. Express your thanks first for the interview, indicate your keen interest and ask your question.
By the way, if you feel you’ve messed up and are losing the job you really want, be frank with the employer. Give them your best pitch with sincerity and learn from the experience; as you should with every situation.