Recently, one of our candidates had a final interview. We were hoping he had the job locked up, so we were puzzled when we learned the offer did not go his way.
The candidate followed up and implored us to ask the company what went wrong. We complied with a simple email to the hiring manager wondering about the outcome. The company got back to us and explained that while he was a very strong candidate in terms of experience, he left a bad taste in their mouths with his closing technique.
Before we get too far, we do not believe candidates need to be the ones to close an interview. This is risky business, particularly for interviewees that don’t really know what a close is. When an interview is over, you shake the person’s hand firmly, reiterate your interest in the position, smile and walk out the door. You follow this up with a thank you note and then move on to the next interview.
So, let’s get to the point. Some candidates and career advisors believe you should ask interviewers questions about your performance as the interview draws to a close. In the case of this candidate he asked, “Did I answer all of your questions satisfactorily?”
We do not think asking this question helps a candidate do anything but seem needy. Is the company going to tell you if you gave a bad answer to a question? No. Asking about your performance puts the company on the spot. Whatever answer you get simply will not help you get the job.
Continuing with the candidate mentioned above, when the response he received to his question was intentionally nebulous, he went to a second closing question. His second question was, “Is there any aspect of my background and experience that is not a fit for this role?” If the employer says yes, they are basically telling you are not getting the job. If they say no, they are giving you the false impression you may be getting the job. Asking such a question puts the employer in a no-win situation. So why do this? What are you gaining?
We advise candidates to close an interview with a quick, upbeat statement something like, “Really interested in the opportunity and hope to hear from you soon.”
We then recommend the ubiquitous firm handshake, smile and departure. That’s it. Once you start asking about your performance, you are taking extra time the employer might not have, putting the employer in a no-win situation, and, at least in our opinion, not receiving any benefit. And as you saw from the example, it can cost you the job. Let your experience, education, skills, motivation, and preparation do the closing. Happy Hunting!