After you spend days preparing for your interview, scripting your elevator pitch, and practicing your non-verbal gestures, you really don't want to crash and burn just as the finish line comes into view. There's nothing classier than a graceful exit, and even though first impressions are the most important, the final impression you leave behind on your way out the door can also have the power to make or break your chances of landing an offer. Here are five tips to keep in mind as you sense your interviewer steering the conversation toward a close.
1. Let your interviewer call it.
You may have heard the old wisdom about never being the first one to end a hug, and the same rule applies to a job interview. Don't close your notes, stretch, eye the clock, take a final breath, or make "let's-wrap-this-up" motions until your interviewer does…That is, if you want the job. If you've seen one too many red flags and you know this job isn't for you, you can get up and leave whenever you like. But otherwise, stay comfy and let her decide when she's heard enough.
2. When you're invited to ask questions, ask away.
Most interviewers end the interview session by turning the tables and asking if you have any questions of your own about the company or the job. Take advantage of this opportunity and ask at least three or four intelligent, insightful and meaningful questions that will genuinely inform your understanding of the situation. For example, ask the interviewer how she would describe the culture in this workplace or what she personally thinks about your prospects for advancement here. Ask her what she likes and doesn't like about working for this employer.
3. Listen to the answers.
Too often, candidates ask great questions at the end of the session, but then they drop the ball by not actually listening to the answers. It's okay if you need to think of your questions beforehand, but don't just read them off like you're reading the script of a play. Keep your ears open and feel free to add as many follow-up questions as you'd like.
4. Don't ramble.
Gracefully recognize the approaching end of the conversation and let it come. Don't sputter or speed up the pace of your speech in order to pack in everything you need to say. Take your time, complete your statements, ask your questions, and don't rush. You won't forget anything important, and if you do, you can mention this missed opportunity (for example an award or accomplishment you left out of the conversation) in your follow-up thank-you message.
5. Repeat a summarized version of your elevator pitch.
If you haven't had a chance to deliver your pitch, do so now. If you've delivered it already, summarize and recap your primary points.
6. Shake hands again after you stand up.
Don't wait for your interviewer to extend her hand to you—Just reach out. Shake firmly and smile as you say goodbye and thank you. If you've been talking with multiple interviewers, reach out to each person one at a time. Smile and make eye contact with every shake, and don't skip anyone.
Leave a Copy of Your Resume
Your interviewers probably have your resume in front of them, but if they don't, be sure to leave a printed copy behind for each person who participated in the session. Visit MyPerfectResume to create a document that leaves a powerful first—and final—impression on your potential employers.