You’ve made it through the initial screens, several Zoom interviews, and have made it to the short list. They invite you for a final interview. By now they have recognized your technical skills, experience, and previous success. What they are judging you on now are mostly intangibles— compatibility with colleagues, subordinates and higher management. How would you represent the organization, or perform when the going gets tough? These qualities can be hard to pin down but are vital to distinguishing you from the one or two remaining candidates. How do you make the most of this final step?
Personality Counts. Be Yourself, but Show Different Sides
Early on, respond to questions in a serious, thoughtful manner. Pause briefly to consider how to answer. That demonstrates the importance you give to the questions, and the care you take in delivering a solid response. Speak with pride about past accomplishments without being boastful. Admit when you don’t have a precise answer, especially about a hypothetical situation. Instead, state what additional information you would seek in order to make a more informed decision. Or tell a story about how you handled a similar situation you have faced. They will remember your answer, not that you didn’t answer the question directly. As the interview progresses, and you feel more comfortable, open up a little. If you are telling a story about a past success, do so with energy and enthusiasm—the kind of persuasiveness you would use to promote an idea internally or to convince a client. Your ability to shift the tenor and mood of the interview shows the interviewer(s) how you would adapt your style to different situations.
Make It a Peer-to-Peer Conversation Not an Interview
Ask questions as if this were your first day on the job. This can be an effective way of demonstrating that you are thinking seriously about the position—and subtly get them to think of you as a colleague. Ask who will be the most important people you need to meet during the first few weeks. Some of them might be on the interview panel already—a good sign, because they are likely to have an important say in the final decision. What other units will you be working with most closely? Ask what obstacles to anticipate, what resources are available to meet the responsibilities of the position, how your success will be measured within the company, and how rewarded. Use indirect language like “can you give me an idea of…” or “can you explain...” Their answers will allow you to judge them. As much as you want that new job, is this really the right position for you?
Tell Stories. They Will Remember Your Stories
Create a portfolio of stories in your head that you can draw on to illustrate qualities you want them to see: how you arrived at a difficult business decision, illustrate your perseverance, resourcefulness or resilience—perhaps a situation where you learned a lesson the hard way, but tell it in a way that you laugh at yourself. It may not even be about the business. I know of two situations where job candidates scored high points in their final interviews with stories about their coaching youth sports. It humanized them.
Eye Contact: An Often-Overlooked Factor
This can be a challenge if the interview is on Zoom. If your final interview is on Zoom, which is common these says, the key is to keep your eyes on your computer’s camera. Whether your interview is with one person or a panel, each individual will think you are speaking directly to them.
Close the Deal
Let them know how much you have enjoyed meeting them, and for giving you a better understanding of the position. Most important, express your keen interest in taking on the responsibility. The cherry on top—tell them how proud you would be to join them.
- Rich Jones, CRC Advisor and Board Member