Three. The End of the Interview

Eleven. Closing the Job Interview

The difference between landing a job offer and the employer's choosing to hire someone else could lie in your close to the interview. You've meted and greeted, and you've answered some tough questions. Now, you need to make a good exit. A simple handshake and the exchange of a few pleasantries are important—expected traditions to keep in mind. However, those are not enough to win the interviewer's consideration.

To complement these conventional practices, consider the following four strategies:

1. Find out if and when any next rounds of interviews will take place. This information will give you an opportunity to ask for an invitation to that next round. For example, "I am interested in participating in the next round. When can I expect a call for scheduling?"

2. Ask the interviewer whether you answered all the questions satisfactorily. In addition, ask outright if the interviewer has any concerns about your application. You may be hesitant about asking this, perhaps fearful of the answer, but the reality is that, if the interviewer has concerns about your qualification, you want to know what they are before you leave the meeting. This may be your only opportunity to squelch those misunderstandings and misgivings. For example, "Before we call it a day, I would like to know if there are any more questions you have for me or perhaps any concerns about my candidacy."

3. Inquire about a date for the hiring decision. Sometimes it is only a matter of days, other times it may be weeks. Either way, you want to know so you can follow up appropriately. So ask, "By what date do you expect to make a decision?"

4. Ask interviewers for their contact information, should you need to reach them. For example, "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. This informative interview answered many of my questions. Should I need additional information, would you rather I contact you via e-mail or phone?"

With the above four strategies in place, you gain an edge over the other interviewees. To increase your chances of selection even further, there are interview blunders to avoid.

Some Closing Mistakes

Unfortunately, after all the hard work job seekers put into their search, including their résumés and cover letters, the networking, and the interview questions, many candidates make a wrong move at the very end that costs them the job. The following three common mistakes are easy to avoid when you know what to look for.

Mistake 1. Saying no before the job is offered. An occasion may arise during the interview when you decide that you do not want the job. Regardless of the reason (e.g., salary, personality incompatibility, no room for growth), refrain from turning down a position before it is offered. The reason is twofold: (1) the intention of the interview is to receive a job offer. When you turn down a position prematurely, you will never know if your interview skills are up to par; and (2) interview settings are emotional situations, prone to quick and often inaccurate reactions. Your dissatisfaction with the job may be with the interview itself and not with the responsibilities of the position. Do not say no to a position before you have had the time to consider its suitability for you.

Take twenty-four hours to process the interview, comparing the company's expectations and your comfort with the position's fit; this the norm and good practice.

Mistake 2. Apologizing for your performance. The last words you impart should not be negative. Being apologetic will make you seem as though you lack confidence. No one wants to hire an individual who does not have pride in his or her abilities. When you apologize for your performance, you may hint at a personality characteristic that may not have been in the interviewer's mind.

However, this is not to suggest that, if there is an issue you want to bring up that will clarify a misunderstanding that occurred during the interview, that you should not do it. The way you approach the matter is what's important. For example, toward the end of the interview, the interviewer usually asks a question such as, "Would you like to add anything else?" If you did not answer a earlier question fully, simply state,

"Upon reflection, when I answered the question_, I should have added_." That response is much better than what candidates usually say, which is "I do not know what I was thinking. When I answered _, I forgot to mention_." The difference between the two responses is significant. The first is a normal part of conversation; the second sheds a negative light on your "forgetfulness."

Mistake 3. Broaching the subject of salary. Interviewers are the ones who should raise the matter of compensation. When interviewers do not ask for salary requirements, it is an indication that the timing is not right. Pressing the topic before its time will cause interviewers to question your interest in the position. Or, the interviewer may low-ball your qualifications because he did not have enough information about your experience to offer an acceptable salary. Be patient. Take the interviewer's lead.

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