Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ending An Interview – How To Ask For The Job

What do you do at the end of an interview?

Many job seekers take a passive approach and just don’t ask. There are not many situations that this works well.

Everyone tells you to ask for the job … but few people will tell you how to ask for it.

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Interviewers and hiring managers typically assume that if a candidate doesn’t ask for the job, they aren’t interested. Many candidates just don’t want to open themselves up for rejection, especially candidates who have had long term frustrations with job search.

Take a risk and ask because you miss 100% of the shots you never take. So far, this isn’t news.

Let’s go over some strategies that work well, and contrast with a few that don’t. In addition, I’ll help you translate the interviewer’s response to better understand if you’ll move forward in the hiring process.

Common Approaches

Direct Approach: “I’d really like to work for your company - the job sounds perfect for me”. While the most popular approach, this method is riddled with problems. It’s centered around what the candidate wants, not what the company wants. If delivered with the wrong tone, in the wrong situation, or to the wrong person, it can be perceived as desperate or pushy. This approach doesn’t ask the interviewer for their opinion of the candidate, which can even appear insulting. Where this can work – for a high pressure, transactional sales position, this demonstrates an ability to go for the close. At an employer that values relationships, this approach can ruin an otherwise great interview.

Feedback Approach:  “So How did I do?” This approach asks the interviewer for feedback, and puts them a on the spot. If you are one of the leading candidates, and the interviewer definitely has you on the callback list, you’ll probably get a strong answer. The problem with this approach is if you are on the bubble for callback, you’ll rarely have an interviewer tell you this (interviewers don’t want confrontation, or to make a discussion uncomfortable– plus they probably have to move on to the next candidate). If you’re on the bubble, you’ll probably get a non answer telling you that they will review all candidates and make callbacks in the next week or two – basically “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”.

Closing Approaches

Next Steps Approach: “What’s our next step?” While a favorite among salespeople, this approach can have drawbacks also. This approach uses an assumptive close technique common in the sales world, of assuming there’s a next step and that the interview process will move forward. If you’re a leading candidate, you’ll likely get the response you want, otherwise you’re likely to hear that the company is still reviewing candidates and …. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”.

Objections Approach: “Do you have any remaining concerns about how well I could do the job?” This is another approach that might work more effectively for a sales position than for others. For a transactional sales position, it demonstrates closing techniques. For non-sales positions, it may not ask the right question. The interviewer may not have remaining concerns, as they may have already decided that you are not a good fit.

Leveraged Feedback approaches

Ranking Approach: “In comparison to other candidates for this position, how do I rank?” This is a better approach, which can give the candidate insight as to chances of getting the job. One of the advantages to this approach, is the type of feedback you are likely to get. You open the interviewer to give some great quality feedback allowing you to compare how strong of a fit the interviewer perceives vs your own perception of how the interview went. If the response that doesn’t translate into you’re one of the top candidates … move on, and don’t wait by the phone.

Fit Approach: “How do you see me fitting in with your company?” This approach can uncover unsaid objections in an interview and can feedback to understand how well you “read” the interview (do your perceptions of fit match the interviewer’s perceptions). This can be effective especially when a key criteria is sensitivity to others. If the response isn’t excited and glowing, if the word “fine” or something similar is used, or if the interviewer is waiting to review all the candidates, you aren’t a top choice. Again, move on and don’t wait by the phone.

1 to 10 Approach: “On a 1 to 10 scale (10 being best), how do you think I’d do in the position?” For most situations, I like this approach best, other than for transactional sales positions. This approach treats your desire to get feedback as an employee review, showing that you truly seek constructive criticism. It’s also a process that HR personnel, recruiters, and hiring managers are very familiar with, increasing your chances of getting an honest response. To get additional feedback, you can ask a secondary question “What could I do to make that a 10?” This approach gives you a very clear idea of where you stand and your best shot at understanding any objections in the interviewer’s mind – maybe even a chance to clear up any misunderstandings. If you get anything but a 9 or a 10, move on.

What approaches are you using to ask for a job?

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1 comment:

Thiago said...

Thank you very much for this article, I'm a 24 year recent graduate and I always wondered what was a good approach for the end of an interview.

I also get the impression that taking the right approach can be beneficial in case there's a "tie" on the hiring manager's mind between me and a equally skilled candidate ...

Thiago Souza de Almeida