How to Successfully End an Interview

By Chelsea Babin

A lot of careful consideration is given to the beginning of the interview. From the resume to the interview preparation to the interview attire to the body language tricks that improve an employer’s first impression of you, most candidates are thoroughly prepared to tackle the first five minutes of an interview head on. But what about the end of the interview?

Final impressions can be just as important as first impressions and, often, the combination of the two is the most powerful memory of you for employers. That means all of your hard work heading into the beginning of an interview could be completely jeopardized by a weak or sloppy finish at the end. Don’t let that happen to you! Here’s how to successfully end an interview:

> Ask questions: If you haven’t already, the end of an interview is the prime time to ask questions. In fact, most interviewers will prompt you into this process by asking if you have any further questions. Hint: you should always have at least one question left! A good question will show that you’ve been engaged throughout the interview process, no matter how long it happened to be. It will also help you establish in the interviewers’ mind that you are, in fact, interested in the position because you’re curious about details they didn’t already cover.

> Ask if they need anything else from you: Would it be helpful if you provided a few more samples of your previous work? Would they like a list of references or a more thorough breakdown of your work background? Asking a hiring manager if they need additional materials from you to evaluate your candidacy further shows a proactive spirit and, if you have these additional materials already with you, a thorough preparedness that can go a long way to getting you hired.

> Summarize your strengths: Yes, they’ve seen your resume and they’ve had a chance to evaluate your experiences throughout the interview. But taking in that much information in one short burst of time can often overwhelm an interviewer’s mind and lead them to forget a few of your best assets. Similarly, there may not have been ample opportunity during the interview for you to bring up your mobile application side project that’s allowed you to learn Android SDK or your detail-oriented nature that helped you catch a bug no one else saw before shipping out a product. Whatever your strengths are, the end of an interview is a great time to summarize them in a clear, concise manner. Limit this summary to one to four naturally worded sentences so it is memorable and doesn’t seem like a memorized monologue. It helps to plan this summary ahead of time but if it sounds rehearsed you may come across as inauthentic.

> If you’re enthusiastic and you know it clap your hands: If, at the end of the interview, you’re chomping at the bit with enthusiasm for this company and this opportunity, let it show! If you’re interested in the position, let them know! When you express your interest and enthusiasm, the interviewer will be able to tell that you have genuine interest in the role. When they know that you strongly desire the position they’re offering, they’ll also know that you’re willing to do the work and do it well, which is an asset many interviewers cannot properly evaluate otherwise.

            > Gratitude goes a long way: Your interviewer is a human being and, like all other human beings, they like to know that you are grateful for the time they spent carefully evaluating you. Sometimes it’s easy to slip into the mentality that an interviewer, particularly when they work in HR, is just a gatekeeper keeping you one step further from your dream job. But that’s simply not the case! The interviewer wants you to be the right fit for their company, they want you to be impressive and enthusiastic and perfect for their position or they wouldn’t have called you in to interview in the first place. Thanking them for their time will help to show that you acknowledge all of the effort they’ve put into considering you for this job.

> Get everyone’s business cards: Before you leave, don’t forget to grab business cards from everyone who participated in your interview. Although this step won’t have a significant, immediate impact on their impression of you it will help you go the extra mile and write a thank you note that will elevate you beyond your fellow candidates. Thank you notes are increasingly rare despite the fact that they’re just as effective as ever. Before you finish the interview, make sure you have all of their contact information so you can send stellar thank you notes after your interview is over.

> Ask about the next steps: One of the most important questions you can ask at the end of any interview is “What are the next steps?”. Whether that company has a singular in person interview or a twelve-step process, this question clues you in on where you stand in the hiring process at the current moment. It will also indicate yet again that you’re interested in continuing on, no matter what the next step(s) may be. Reaffirming your interest in the position and cluing you in on something you’re curious about all in one easy step, what could be a better interview ender than that?

> Firm handshake and open body language: Just as body language is important in your first impression, it’s crucial at the end of any interview. One cultural staple to end a business-oriented interaction is, of course, the handshake. Finishing off your interview with a firm handshake will help cement your strength of character in your interviewer’s subconscious. Other body language that is important for a strong, successful interview ending ranges from eye contact to strong posture to smiling to making sure your arms never cross your chest or close you off. You’ll want to be as open and as engaged as possible at the end of your interview to help cement in the interviewer’s subconscious that you’re a strong contender with a great interest in this position.

Too few people give the end of the interview the consideration it deserves. When you’ve made an amazing and prepared first impression, the best way to successfully end the interview is by doing the same. And, although the steps are different, these easy-to-remember tips will help you end an interview more successfully than you ever have before. Try it out at your next interview and tell us how it goes!