What’s more reviled than wet socks, bad wifi or Mondays – it’s going for the close in a job interview. By going for the close I mean actually asking for the job. Most people are reluctant to do that or, worse yet, have never even considered doing that. The problem is that if you don’t say that you want the job, your chances of getting the offer drop by between 20% and 100%.
That’s because nobody likes to be rejected. Job seekers don’t want to be rejected so they avoid asking for the job and instead settle for expressing indirect interest in it. Hiring managers don’t like rejection either, so they try to make offers only to those candidates who are most likely to accept. So the hiring manager might make an offer to the second-best candidate and ‘waitlist’ her favorite candidate if she thinks the best candidate is likely to take a better offer from another company.
The questions isn’t should you ask for the job (you must ask for the job), but how to ask for the job in a way that makes you feel comfortable and not ‘pushy’. Most people don’t get enough practice interviewing, let alone closing. That’s bad because interviewing is a skill you develop, a muscle you build through repetition. The people who are least likely to have good interviewing skills are usually (and ironically) the A-list employees – the ones who’ve been retained by their employer and promoted internally for a number of years. Some of them have only interviewed once – during their senior year of college. Whether you need help perfecting your interviewing skills or working on the close – get help from a friend, a colleague, people from your university’s career office or a professional career coach. Leverage the feedback you receive during mock interviews to revise your answers the same way that an actor uses rehearsals to perfect his delivery.
Now let’s fast forward to the close. Every interview winds down the same way. After asking you a lot of questions the interviewer says, ‘So, do you have any questions for me?’.
‘No’ or ‘No, I did but I think we covered all my questions during the interview’ indicate that you aren’t interested, you just want to get this interview over with. You’re interested in the job so, you ask a couple of questions. Then the interviewer says, ‘Any more questions?’. And here you come to a fork in the road. Which direction you go in will influence whether the interviewer puts you on her candidate waitlist or offers you the job.
‘Well, I’m just wondering what the next steps in the interview process are and what the timing looks like.’ This type of close leaves the hiring manager wondering if you have other interviews lined up or are possibly waiting to hear back from a final-round interview at another company. Of course the hiring manger knows you’re interested in the job (or you wouldn’t have shown up to the interview) but they doubt this job would be your first choice.
The close. Part 1.
‘First of all, thanks for taking the time to discuss my two questions. I don’t have any more for now, but I want to say that prior to meeting with you, I was already very interested in this role and in Amazon’s logistics group. Now that we’ve spoken I’m convinced this role would be a great fit and working with your team would be a great opportunity to _____________. I’d really like to have this job and would definitely accept an offer if one were extended.‘ Just by saying that, you bumped up your chances. But you can do even better.
The close. Part 2.
You can further improve your close by giving the hiring manager one or two reasons why you think the role, environment or organizational mission are a good fit.
‘I know that my strongest interests are A and B (and then relate that to the role, environment or mission). OR I know that I’m most motivated by C and D (and then relate that to the role, environment or mission). I gravitate towards a organizational cultures which are E and F (and then relate that to the team or organizational environment at the company in question).
This is an aside, but one reason I like the CareerLeader professional interest assessment is that it gives candidates a lot of material they can use in interview. It is especially handy in tackling the above script. The assessment covers:
- interests (like influencing others, creative production, coaching and mentoring)
- motivators (like recognition, autonomy, altruism)
- skills (like teamwork, ability to teach, comfort with differences)
- culture (what type of organizational culture to look for and what to avoid)
The Close. Part 3.
Here’s what you’re going to say. ‘I was hoping you could you share the reservations you have about my fit with this role or about hiring me for this role?‘ That’s pretty ballsy right? That’s because it’s scary. And it’s scary because it invites rejection (and we’re back to the beginning of this article).
The truth is that the interviewer might actually have hard reservations that you can’t overcome (like needing a degree in statistics when you got yours in English literature). But you have nothing to lose. You need to risk hearing those reservations because it’s better to be aware of them than to be ignorant of them. If the interviewer has soft reservations (like the fact that you don’t have as much experience in project management as the company is looking for) then you need to counter that reservation (and any others) with pertinent and convincing stories. (This is where having gone through the experience of having a story-based resume written for you or doing behavioral mock interviews comes in super handy). If you do this, the hiring manager will be impressed. So impressed that they’re going to be really excited about getting you a meeting with the next decision maker in the hiring process.
Notice that you asked the hiring manger to share the reservations she has rather than if she has any reservations. You don’t want to leave the door open for the hiring manager to clam up on you by turning this into a yes or no question: ‘Oh I can’t think of anything’. You want to force the hiring manager to share at least one reservation – even if it’s a small one. Why? Because in doing so, the hiring manager won’t be able to stew over her reservations later on (when you won’t be there to speak up for yourself obviously). Cognitive dissonance will come into play. If later on, the hiring manager has reservations that she failed to share with you when asked, she’ll blame herself for not asking, rather than blaming you for possessing those shortcomings.
Let’s review what you’ve accomplished during your close. You said that you want the job and in doing so, assured the hiring manager that an offer to me will not be wasted. You explained why you want it–and you backed up your assertion by connecting self-knowledge to the role, environment or mission of the company. You asked the hiring manager to share her reservations with you – giving you a wonderful opportunity to counter those reservations through storytelling.