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Closing the job interview

closing the interview

Closing the job interview with a non-verbal flourish is just nasty

Closing the job interview

We all know that closing the job interview is a critical piece to the interview process. I read and hear many well-intentioned closing statements when reading cover letters and interviewing candidates.  How many of us have said or listed the following in a cover letter or stated the below when closing the job interview?

  • “I am result oriented, passionate, and dedicated”.
  • “I am a hard-working, detail oriented, and a loyal employee. 
  • “I am an intelligent team player with big goals.”

If you stated any of the above in your cover letter, know the reader rolled their eyes.

If you stated anything similar to the above in the “objective statement” of your resume, I probably lost interest before I got to the section listing your experience and accomplishments.

If you have said any of the above in an interview, know that it fell on deaf ears.

Not a dick

I don’t say the above to be a dick.  We have all stated something similar in prior interviews and I am no exception.  We stated the above loud and proud in an effort to close the interview. We may have psyched ourselves up in front of the mirror with these very statements. Heck, we may have even had a career counselor or a parent coach us on above lines. All through the interview process, no one corrected us, ever. Had I known how ineffective and how much of a turn-off they are in an interview, I wouldn’t have been so bold. Which is why I am bringing them up to you.

I am here to explain why these statements are actually hurting your chances of landing the job offer and more importantly, how you can make the above into effective statements when you are closing the job interview.

So what is wrong with the above sound bites? The two biggest things that give me heartburn:

Thing 1.  I hear these statements in every interview I conduct. 95% of the candidates that sit across from me in an interview give me some version I am X, Y and Z.

Now I know how the hot girl at the dance must feel getting hit on all night long at the club via the classics we have all seen fail miserably.

    • “Gurl, you’re so fine.”
    • “Do I know you from somewhere”?
    • “Call me Pooh, because all I want is you, honey”.

It took me awhile for me to realize that these lines get you zero in the clubs, mall or your hunting ground of choice.  These lines suck. 20 guys before me slung these lines and 20 guys after me are going to sling these same lines.  These lines don’t stand out.  They are not original and they can’t sound very sincere when they are heard 20 times a night by every Tom, Dick and Harry.  

Thing 2.  I don’t know what you really mean when you say “hard worker”, “dedicated” or “punctual”?

    • What exactly is a “hard worker” to you?  Does a hard worker put in 45 hours or 70 hours? If I am a guy that works with colleagues that put in 50 plus hours a week, 45 hours won’t be impressive.
    • What exactly is “punctual”? Are you coming in at 9:00 every morning? Maybe you are never late?  Are you 10 minutes early? Do you have perfect attendance?  
    • Really, shouldn’t everyone be punctual?  Are we just stating that we are going to do the minimum by showing up on time?
    • What exactly is “intelligent”? Is it a high IQ of 170? Is intelligent a high GPA? Is intelligence an advanced graduate degree?

Behavioral Interviewing 

This comes back to a standard in the world of recruiting and I have blogged about here in more detail.  Behavioral interviewing is an interview methodology where the recruiter subscribes to the following train of thought:

Prior performance is an indicator of future performance.

Everyone says, “I can do X” or “I will do Y”.  Prior performance is proof.  If you have consistently done something in the past, it is a good indication you will continue that behavior in the future.

  1. If you say that the training program will not be a problem because you received a 4.0 GPA in school, you are probably going to do well in our 3-month training program, which is classroom study for 2 months and 1 month of OTJ training.
  2. If you say you are a hard worker and your day usually starts at 7:00 AM and ends at 9 PM, then I have an idea of what you are talking about.
  3. If you say you are a hard worker and you worked 70 hours a week for 3 weeks to meet a deadline, I have an idea of what you are talking about.

These examples don’t just say you are you are a good student or a hard worker, they give perspective to the statement.

Finish strong

I have a colleague who is a very articulate senior leader at a tech company giant in the Redmond, Washington area.  One thing he is very good at is making closing statements.  At the end of his statements, he lists off the points he is making, while at the same time using his index finger to reinforce his thoughts.  As an example, we can apply the same technique to one of the most common interview questions that we will encounter:

“Why should we hire you”?

What I normally hear is one of the original sound bites listed above.

“I am intelligent, I am punctual and I am a hard worker”.

Uhhhhhggggg!  Boring!  Been there and heard that.

The candidate then gives me a blank stare as if to say, “That was easy, what’s your next question”?

One strong technique to finish strong in an interview is by counting out a few examples using your index finger.

Here is how our senior leader would answer the same “Why should we hire you?” question.

“I am really excited about the opportunity and I believe Acme Publishing should hire me for 3 reasons.  Your job description explained that you are looking for a candidate with strong communication skills, experience in sales and a Rolodex of contacts”.

“I possess all three of these”. Placing his right index finger and on the right index finger of his left hand.   “One. My communication skills were instrumental in getting me promoted at my last position and helped close 2 very large deals.  Both of these accomplishments required written communication, and verbal communication – not just one on one, but also groups of senior executives”.

Placing his right index finger and on the middle finger of his left hand.  Two, I have experience in sales. For the last 2 years, I have been selling 137% of quota and the year before that I made the Presidents circle”

Placing his right index finger and on the tip of his ring finger of his left hand. “Three, I have a Rolodex of clients within our industry.  I read that you just closed a deal with Acme Publishing’s print department. I know Harry Smith in digital media who is a Sr. Director and I also can make an introduction to the VP of Operations there.

And then we deliver the coup de grace.  “So you should hire me for three reasons.  Placing his right index finger and on right index finger of his left hand.  “One, my strong communication skills, placing his right index finger and on the middle finger of his left hand. my experience in sales and three placing his right index finger and on the tip of his ring finger of his left hand.  my contacts within the industry”.

And that is a powerful closing statement. 

The illusion of confidence and dispelling any idea that you are not just coming up with this stuff out of your ass is reinforced when you say something, explain it, and then reinforce it with non-verbal communication.  Your message reaches the listener at a subconscious level.  Your verbal message with the non-verbal flourish becomes very powerful.  Adding quantifiable data to back up any opinions that you really are intelligent, have sales experience, and are a hard worker can be very powerful.

Next time you are in a conversation trying to reinforce a point you are trying to make, try the above technique.  I think it is downright nasty.

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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