Help Employers Know Why They Should Hire You

Even if the interviewer never directly says it, the question in his or her mind is always "Why should I hire you over someone else?" The best response to this question provides advantages to the employer, not to you. A good response provides proof that you can help an employer make more money by improving efficiency, reducing costs, increasing sales, or solving problems (by coming to work on time, improving customer service, organizing one or more operations, offering knowledge of a particular software or computer system, or a variety of other things). See chapter 4 for guidance on answering this all-important question.

Close the Interview Properly

As the interview comes to an end, remember these few things:

Don't let the interview last too long. Most interviews last 30 to 60 minutes. Unless the interviewer asks otherwise, plan on staying no longer than an hour. Watch for hints from interviewers, such as looking at a watch or rustling papers, that indicate that they are ready to end the interview.

Summarize the key points of the interview. Use your judgment here and keep it short! Review the major issues that came up in the interview with the employer. You can skip this step if time is short.

If a problem came up, repeat your resolution of it. Whatever you think that particular interviewer may see as a reason not to hire you, bring it up again and present your reasons why you don't see it as a problem. If you are not sure what the interviewer is thinking, be direct and ask, "Is there anything about me that concerns you or might keep you from hiring me?" Whatever comes up, do as well as you can in responding to it.

Review your strengths for this job. Take this opportunity to present the skills you possess that relate to this particular job one more time. Emphasize your key strengths only and keep your statements brief.

If you want the job, ask for it. If you want the job, say so and explain why. Employers are more willing to hire someone they know is excited about the job, so let them know if you are. Ask when you can start. This question may not always be appropriate, but if it is, do it.

The Call-Back Close

This interview-closing approach requires some courage, but it does work. Practice it a few times and use it in your early interviews to get more comfortable with it.

1. Thank the interviewer by name. While shaking their hand, say, "Thank you (Mr. or Mrs. or Ms._) for your time today."

2. Express interest. Depending on the situation, express your interest in the job, organization, service, or product by saying, "I'm very interested in the ideas we went over today," or "I'm very interested in your organization. It seems to be an exciting place to work." Or, if a job opening exists and you want it, confidently say, "I am definitely interested in this position."

3. Mention your busy schedule. Say "I'm busy for the next few days, but.."

4. Arrange a reason and a time to call back. Your objective is to leave a reason for you to get back in touch and to arrange for a specific day and time to do so. For example, say, "I'm sure I'll have questions. When would be the best time for me to get back with you?" Notice that I said "When" rather than "Is it OK to..." because asking when does not easily allow a "no" response. Get a specific day and a best time to call.

5. Say good-bye.

Follow Up After the Interview

The interview has ended, you made it home, and now you just sit back and wait, right? Wrong. Effective follow-up actions can make a big difference in getting a job offer over more qualified applicants.

As I say throughout this book, following up can make the difference between being unemployed or underemployed and getting the job you want fast. See chapter 7 for more details on effective follow-up by phone, e-mail, and regular mail.

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