How to seal the deal

When interviewing, most job seekers know they need to make a great first impression, ask thoughtful questions and provide articulate answers. Yet many tend to be unprepared for closing the interview. Because they don’t know what to say or what to do, they often botch or completely miss the opportunity to connect with the interviewer one last time.

Susan Britton Whitcomb, a career coach and author of Interview Magic, teaches her clients what it takes to end the interview on a powerful and positive note. Here are 10 of her tips:

1. The goal of the close is to make it easy for the employer to say, “Yes! We want you.”

2. Closing should never be a manipulative, high-pressure process of asking the interviewer to make you an offer. Eventually, the tables will be turned and the interviewer will close you, hoping you will say, “Yes! I want the job.”

3. To close, start by gaining agreement that you have what it takes. These questions will help:

• “May I ask what you see as my greatest strengths for the position?”
• “Are you satisfied that I meet your needs in the position?”
• “May I ask what experience of mine you see as most relevant to the position?”

4. Next, close any gaps between what the employer wants and what you can deliver. Helpful questions to close the gap include these:

• “Is there anything in my background that would prevent you from offering me the position?”
• “How have I done in confirming that I can deliver the results you’re looking for?”
• “What additional evidence do you need?”
• “What concerns do you have about my qualifications?”
• “What would it take to assure you that I would be the best person for the position?”

5. Express desire for the position, and ask for the job. Many an interviewer has passed over a well-experienced candidate because the candidate did not appear motivated to do the job. Motivation can be as desirable as experience doing the job.

6. Crank up the energy and enthusiasm in your voice and ask for the job with one of the following approaches:

• “I’m extremely interested. Although I’m looking at a couple of opportunities right now, this appears to be the one where I could make the biggest contribution.”
• “I can assure you that if you extended a reasonable offer today, I would be on board tomorrow.”
• “I am absolutely certain this is the perfect position for me. There may be others who have more impressive ‘resumé lineage,’ but no one will give you more enthusiasm and commitment.”

7. When closing, find a way to keep up the momentum. To do so, consider a “leave-behind.” This item could be a fact sheet relevant to the interviewer, before-and-after photos of a completed project or a collection of testimonials.

8. Prop the door open for future communications by asking, “What’s the next step?” Ask permission to follow up: “I’d like to be able to touch base with you as additional ideas from our discussion come to mind. Is e-mail or phone best?” If the interviewer says she’ll get back to you, ask, “When might I expect your call?”

9. Send a performance-based thank-you note the same day that you interview.

10. Watch for buying signals from the interviewer. These include an introduction to other team members who aren’t part of the interview team, disclosure of confidential or proprietary information, inclusion or discussion about business strategy or questions about your availability or salary requirements. When these signals come, reiterate your interest and ask for the job!