The Interview isn't Over Until You Close it

Closing the interview;

In the incredible sales movie Glen Gary Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin plays Blake, the brutally efficient business henchman sent by Mitch and Murray to inspire the sales team. He tells them to A‐always, B‐be, C‐closing. The tough dialogue and strong message may cast a dark shadow on salesmanship but the soundness of that statement in relation to production can't be denied.

Anything we begin needs to be closed at some point.

A sales call is a presentation with a request for action. So it is also in the interview. In the event that you have found yourself in a meeting with a hiring manager of an elite team in a company you respect, you may feel the need to sell your abilities and position yourself in their process to receive the offer. In the final moments of this life changing meeting, avoid being in a rush to escape the presence of excellence. Take a moment and construct a closing statement, then ask a question that will reveal your position in the ranking thus far.

The 'door knob close' is a technique where the salesman has not been able to make any headway in the meeting and is finally exiting the office door. With his hand on the door he turns and asks, "By the way Mr. Customer, I missed a critical fact when I evaluated your needs in our discussion, what was it?" With his guard down, the prospect relays the biggest need... The salesman replies: "Oh, Mr. Customer that is my fault because I can tell you that very area is my specialty of sale!" And walks back into the room to complete the sale.

Your approach won't be obnoxious or overbearing but at the point of interview conclusion:

a) Make a closing statement.

b) Follow up the statement with a question.

Often we prepare for the beginning of the interview, but not the conclusion. In preparing for the beginning of the interview it's a good idea to answer in writing the question, "Tell me about yourself." Is one of the first interview preparation questions to bone up on. Know the elevator speech that conveys the basics like your background, accomplishments and aspirations in your introduction.

Being prepared for the end of an interview is just as important as the beginning. It's true that we are judged instantly by others, (and often correctly) the last statement made in a room can be your time to make an influential mark on the team and correct any misconceptions. It may also be a time to underline some key skill you have that matches to the need of the role.

The interview is over when everyone stands and shakes hands. Give quick evaluation to your own perception of chemistry and trust it. If you liked the team, want the job and feel that you could work well in this company, let them know that.

"Ms. Jensen I enjoyed our meeting today, I've learned a great deal about Heckleman Corporation and I'm confident that I can do this position expertly. My background in analytics from Wellington Research Institute gives me the edge that I can guess you aren't seeing in the other candidates. Am I right?" After the answer ask, "What is the next step in the interview?"

Listen for specifics- information of days and dates that schedule you further into the process. Often if you do not get a good feeling from their answer here, you may have blown the interview.

"Do you have any concerns about my background or ability to perform the duties?" Ask this question to flush out the reservations of the interview team. If the concerns of the team aren't expressed, you won't get a chance to deal with them. Then they will talk about their concerns after you leave.

It is folklore among recruiters that if the hiring manger says to a candidate, "Thank you for your time." You are dead in the water. As a career recruiter, spooky as it is, I have to agree with this. Ignore flag like this to your peril. Respond fast with, "Oh no, don't say that, I've heard that this expression is the kiss of death!" Get a smile or a chuckle out of the interview team. Any chuckle in an interview is worth fifty points.

"What is the key skill vital to this position that you feel I may be light in?" Listen intently without interruption. If they are right - don't try to convince them otherwise, let them know you are a fast learner and can complete a program of training because all skills are learnable.

A few more closing questions to keep handy:

  • "How do I stack up against the other candidates in the process?"
  • "When you make this hire, what is the key skill that you are looking for? How much does that weigh in your decision making? How do you perceive my abilities in that area?"
  • "Is there anything in my background you wish I had more or less of?"

  • Closing the interview is where you want to sum up your interest level, relate it, and then ask the hiring manager a question to gauge their temperature about you as a candidate. This is your last chance to sample the communication style of someone you may work closely with. Stay in the closing question a bit and don't rush the departure.

    It has been said that all is well that ends well, so let's take great care on the closing of our interviews because it is a critical cut in the template we are developing for being able to recognize opportunity.

    For more information on interviewing read my book Interview Strategy; The Next Move is Yours

    To Your Success,
    Jim Finucan