“Closing in the Interview Process”
Once we get past the first few jobs in our career there is always the question about how to close gracefully in a final interview. Particularly when interviewing for positions that are not related to sales, we often wonder if it makes sense to try to get some kind of commitment from the interviewer. Clearly sales candidates need to demonstrate closing skills, but what about the rest of us? In the case of candidates who are recruited to consider a particular job opportunity, the question arises about the importance of selling themselves in the interview process.
For mid-management roles and above the overall recruitment and selection process takes on average anywhere from 4-8 weeks, if conducted appropriately. During that time the recruited candidate experiences different phases of the process, from the point of learning about an interesting opportunity to the point of being offered and job and accepting it: he/she has to earn the right to get the job, just like an unemployed candidate. As the process evolves and the candidate gather’s more information, his/her interest is supposed to build, if it doesn’t then he/she should gracefully withdraw for the process. And so it makes sense that there should be some “closing” that occurs by the candidate throughout the process.
But there is an important difference between asking for an employment commitment and asking about a candid exchange of mutual interests.
It’s been my experience that people who are offered jobs that they really want recognize the importance of being very forthright and proactive about their interest as the interview process winds down. If you’re interested in the job, make a direct, clear statement to that effect as the interview draws to a close. Hiring managers place just as much value on finding someone who is excited about the job opportunity as someone who can do it well, but isn’t real enthusiastic about it. Think about it: would you want to hire someone who is 80% qualified to do a job an 100% excited about it, or someone who is 95% qualified and 50% excited? Employers need people who can commit to long hours and sometimes stressful working conditions, and they don’t want to hire people who appear to be unwilling to do that.
And then, after making a clear and simple statement of interest in an interview, it becomes very comfortable – and logical – to transition into a question where you probe to find out if the interviewer has any concerns about you that would prevent you from moving forward in the process. It’s a two-step process: “I’m very interested in the job, so I have to ask you if you have any concerns.”
Why is this important?
More often than not if the interviewer has a red flag or negative thought in their mind about a candidate I’ve presented to them it is usually based on a misunderstanding they have about the candidate’s interests or background. However, interviewers are generally polite: they usually don’t want to be proactively critical of a candidate and voice a concern that is a deal-killer for moving forward. In the case of a misunderstanding this results in a lose-lose outcome unless the candidate closes appropriately. It’s the candidate’s job to find out what that potential negative issue is in the mind of the interviewer and get it out on the table. If it’s a legitimate obstacle that can’t be overcome then both sides move on with their lives without wasting time; if it’s a misunderstanding about candidate motivation and / or qualifications then a logical next step can be established.
Most mid-management and senior executives have their own verbiage and method of getting to this same point: an open exchange of information that will optimize efficiency in the interview process for all involved. This is not a candidate being “pushy” about getting a job; it’s a demonstration of interpersonal communication skills that are crucial for everyday success.