The last few minutes of an interview can mean everything to the candidate who is prepared to ask the right questions. We like to call this closing the interview while in reality we are setting the table for keeping the path of discussion and opportunity open. And preparing to close is based on how well you start the interview.
Most interviews start with the employer asking a few questions about your current or most recent employment, your school experience or where you’re from before jumping into the ‘can you tell me about…’ and the interview discussion begins. At some point early in the interview you should find a question that directs the discussion from you to the employer and addresses their current needs.
Say the employer asks about your experience with channel marketing at your most recent job, this is a prime opportunity to ask about the current distribution model, how marketing supports it and if there are plans to extend or change the current strategy. Your goal is to get the employer talking about the current model, and any changes that may affect the position you are interviewing for. And don’t be afraid to ask if that is the case.
Let the interviewer back in the driver’s seat. They may ask a question about the style of management you have felt the most accomplished working with. This is a chance to discuss company culture and that it is important to you. However, before you begin talking about yourself too much, find an opportunity to make a comment and pose a question about the company’s culture. Something like: “Culture is important to me and based on the company awards I saw in the lobby it appears culture is important to you as well. Can you describe your culture and what you look for in the talent you have had success with?”
These are two simple examples that display how an interview should be interactive throughout the discussion. And at the end when you have those few minutes to make a lasting impression, remind the employer, “based on what I have learned you currently seek an individual who has experience with A, B, C and can accomplish X, Y and Z…I have this experience and accomplishment set from companies M and N. And based on your description of the company’s culture I feel I align well with your goals and environment and am very interested in learning more about the opportunity. Thanks you again for your time. What are the next steps in the process?”
Employers may stammer at this point because they don’t have a well-planned and timed process in place. If this is the case, ask when you should get back in touch. And, always ask if they have any questions or require further information.