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How to Prepare for (and Close) Your Next Interview

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We hear a lot of advice on what to do during an interview, but the two most important parts of the interview process are how to prepare and how to close.

Your interview can only be as strong as your preparation, and your lasting impression only as strong as your close. That’s why your ability to obtain a job depends on how you walk in and out of the interview. Here are some tips for helping you sell yourself as the best possible job candidate:

Before the Interview

How you walk in depends on how well-prepared you are, so you’ll want to approach the preparation stage as if you were an expert consultant going to a first client meeting.

This means your initial responsibility is to understand the company, the job opportunity and the hiring manager. Well-informed people do better in most areas of life, and interviewing is no different. Being well-informed starts with research (preferably a top-down approach). Start by first researching at an industry level, then looking closer at the company itself and finally researching the position you’re applying for and even the hiring manager.

Your next step is to create a set of questions to fill in any blanks you might still have after your initial research. The purpose of these questions is to force you to take the time to think critically about the company and the job. Try breaking those questions down to strategic and tactical: strategic questions give you information on the company as a whole, while tactical questions tell you about the position.

Examples of Strategic Questions:

1.  How is the company uniquely positioned within the industry, and what are the key differentiators?
2.  What are the goals and objectives for the company in the upcoming years?
3.  What is driving the company’s growth?

Examples of Tactical Questions:

1.  How will success be measured in this position?
2.  What future growth opportunities do you foresee for someone who is successful in this position?
3.  What key attributes must I possess to be successful in this position?

After the Interview

As the interview is winding down, the interviewer will inevitably ask if you have any questions. Not having any is an unacceptable position to take and will most certainly ruin your chances of getting to the next step.

Instead, address the strategic and tactical questions you prepared.

Once you’ve covered those questions, your two main objectives when closing an interview are to reiterate your interests and to uncover and address any concerns the interviewer might have.

Examples of Closing Statements:

“Thank you for taking the time to meet with/call me today and answer all my questions about this opportunity. Based on our conversation, I am convinced this position represents the next logical step in my career. What type of concerns do you have about me as a candidate that would prevent you from moving me forward in this process?”

If the interviewer says “none” or doesn’t have any, then ask, “Great. Then what are the next steps in the process, and can we schedule those now while we are still together?”

If they do address concerns, then respond using the following steps:

1.  Clarify and isolate the specific concerns and then do your best to address them individually.
2.  Re-close by asking, “Do you still have that concern(s) now?” If the answer is no, then finish by asking about the next steps (see section above).

By focusing on these two aspects as you walk out the door, you’ll know exactly where you stand in the interviewer’s mind and, more importantly, you’ll also know where the job stands in your mind. A hard close as you walk out, combined with full preparation as you walk in, will result in you getting the most out of your interview—and hopefully getting hired.

Kyle Tothill is a Co-Founding Partner at eHire responsible for the management and oversight of the firm’s sales and business development recruiting practice. He serves as one of eHire’s resident experts in advanced Talent Acquisition and Assessment Methodologies as well as Advanced Recruiting Outsourcing Solutions.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=317752194950479 Alison Elissa Coaching

    I like the general points of this article, but I think people will need to remember to use their own voice when asking these questions vs. trying to word for word remember a script.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=82095877369 LaSalle Network

    Candidates that come prepared with well thought-out, informed questions are impressive. Candidates that ask elementary questions that could be answered with research are not. Be selective with questions and don’t ask them merely to fill the silence. Also ask the hiring manger questions like; how long have you been with the company and what do you like about working here, to help gauge your fit within the culture.

    As you said, Kyle, it’s crucial to close the interview by addressing any concerns or hesitations the hiring manager may have. I’ve found the best candidates utilize this proactive approach: http://pastfive.typepad.com/pastfive/2011/02/make-an-impression-with-one-question-.html.

    -Tom Gimbel, CEO, LaSalle Network.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=271703022904314 Careerleaf

    Successful job interviews are usually determined by the level of prior preparation. Critical thinking about the company and the job are important to strategic preparation for a job interview, especially regarding important questions to ask. It’s true that the inability to ask important questions about the job could ruin your chances of moving along in the hiring process. You’ve made a great point regarding the importance of the candidate asking about potential concerns relating to moving forward in the process. This is certain to help put candidates at ease after the interview.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=172339646152677 Spark Hire

    These are really great points for how to wow employers in your interview. Whether your interview is in person or through online video, the way you enter and leave the interview are extremely important. Asking employers at the end of the interview if they have any concerns about you is a great way to address those concerns and make sure you move along to the next step of the process. The beginning and end of your interview will make a lasting impression, so make sure it’s the right impression!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001767938002 Vincent Kernaghan

    Good points. How do you suggest researching a hiring manager?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=24207066 Robert Travers

      linked-in profile

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001767938002 Vincent Kernaghan

      That, looking on this site, Facebook/Twitter and Googling the person are what I had in mind, but I thought there might be a specific recommended strategy to use the info found besides, “Try to suck up and make them like you”.

      I’m thinking there are probably at least a few different scenarios one could follow based on the info found. Then, do we engage the person or not, to what degree, etc. There’s obviously some interpretation of the findings that determines direction from there.

      Was mainly just curious to see if there was more from the person making that suggestion or if it was just a passing thought/idea.

  • http://www.jobinnerview.com/ JobInnerView

    it surely makes you stand out of the crowd if you have done your homework right and have researched the company well, and do not ask questions just for the heck of asking, rather ask questions of some worth like asking to know if how long has the interviewer been with the company and how happy he/she is to work there.

    This would give the impression that you are quite interested in working there and would demonstrate you motivation.

    Plus, as an add on, within 48 hours of the interview, we recommend that you send a note or an email expressing your appreciation for the interviewer’s time and for the opportunity to meet. Because many candidates, especially at the executive level, do not take the time to do this, it is an opportunity to continue differentiating yourself.

    With the collective knowledge shared on this post be all the people here, I think anyone who follows will be surely able to crack the next interview or atleast give the right impression to be considered for the next round.

    But in case you feel you need something more, you can check out http://www.jobinnerview.com and get more help.

  • http://www.minecraftgames.co/ Minecraft Games

    The details are well-explained and very concise.