March 16, 2011
What do you do at the end of an interview? Everyone tells you to ask for the job … but few people will tell you how to ask for it.
Many job seekers take a passive approach and just don’t ask for the job. There are not many situations where a passive approach works well and is often interpreted in a lack of interest in the job.
Interviewers and hiring managers typically assume that if a candidate doesn’t ask for the job, they just aren’t interested. From the candidate point of view, asking for the job makes many uncomfortable, opens themselves up for rejection – this is especially common among candidates who have had long term frustrations with job search. Others feel that asking for the job is “too pushy”.
I give this general career advice to all candidates: Take a risk and ask because you miss 100% of the shots you never take. So far, this isn’t earth shattering news.
Here’s the real meat of today’s career advice: Let’s go over some strategies that work well, and contrast with a few that don’t. In addition, I’ll help you translate the interviewer’s response to better understand if you’ll move forward in the hiring process.
7 ways to ask for the job at interview’s end:
1. Direct Approach: “I’d really like to work for your company – the job sounds perfect for me”
While the most popular approach, this method is riddled with problems. It’s centered around what the candidate wants, not what the company wants. If delivered with the wrong tone, in the wrong situation, or to the wrong person, it can be perceived as desperate or pushy. This approach doesn’t ask the interviewer for their opinion of the candidate, which could even appear insulting. Where this can work – for a high pressure, transactional sales position, this demonstrates an ability to go for the close. At an employer that values relationships and taking the time to build trust, this approach can ruin an otherwise great interview.
2. Feedback Approach: “So how did I do?”
This approach asks the interviewer for feedback, and puts the interviewer on the spot. If you are one of the leading candidates, and the interviewer definitely has you on the callback list, you’ll probably get a strong answer. The problem with this approach is if you are on the bubble for callback, you’ll rarely have an interviewer tell you this (interviewers don’t want confrontation, or to make a discussion uncomfortable – plus they probably have to move on to the next candidate). If you’re on the bubble, you’ll probably get a non answer telling you that they will review all candidates and make callbacks in the next week or two – basically “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”.
3. Next Steps Approach: “What’s our next step?”
While a favorite among salespeople, this approach can have drawbacks also. This approach uses an assumptive close technique common in the sales world, assuming there’s a next step and that the interview process will move forward. If you’re a leading candidate, you’ll likely get the response you want, otherwise you’re likely to hear that the company is still reviewing candidates and …. “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”.
4. Objections Approach: “Do you have any remaining concerns about how well I could do the job?”
This is another approach that might work more effectively for a sales position than for others. For a transactional sales position, it demonstrates closing techniques. For non-sales positions, you risk that you haven’t asked the right question. The interviewer may answer “no”, which can still leave the candidate in confusion – The interviewer may have decided that you are not a good fit, so they have no remaining concerns … the interviewer’s decision has already been made.
Leveraged Feedback Approaches
5. Ranking Approach: “In comparison to other candidates for this position, how do I rank?”
This is a higher level approach, which can give the candidate insight as to chances of getting the job. Higher quality feedback is one of the advantages to this approach. You open the interviewer to give some great feedback, allowing a comparison of how strong of a fit the interviewer perceives vs your own perception of how the interview went. If the response that doesn’t translate into “you’re one of the top candidates” … move to the next opportunity, because this one’s not happening.
6. Fit Approach: “How do you see me fitting in with your company?”
This approach can uncover unmentioned objections in an interview and can give feedback to understand how well you “read” the interview (do your perceptions of fit match the interviewer’s perceptions). This can be effective especially when a key criteria is sensitivity to others. If the response isn’t excited and glowing, if the word “fine” or something similar is used, or if the interviewer is waiting to review all the candidates, you aren’t a top choice. Again, move on and don’t wait by the phone.
7. 1 to 10 Approach: “On a 1 to 10 scale (10 being best), how do you think I’d do in the position?”
For most situations, I like this approach best, other than for highly transactional sales positions. This approach treats your desire to get feedback as an employee review, showing that you truly seek constructive criticism. It’s also a process that HR personnel, recruiters, and hiring managers are very familiar with, increasing your chances of getting an honest response. To get additional feedback, you can ask a secondary question “What could I do to make that a 10?” This approach gives you a very clear idea of where you stand and your best shot at understanding any objections in the interviewer’s mind – maybe even a chance to clear up any misunderstandings. If you get anything but a 9 or a 10, move on.
Employers and Recruiters – What are some of the best approaches are you’ve seen for a candidate to ask for a job at the close of the interview?
Phil Rosenberg is President of reCareered, the web’s central hub for job search advice. An active blogger about social media and career change, Phil’s articles have been republished by several of the leading job, career and recruiting sites. Connect with Phil on Twitter @philreCareered.