While it is true that the first few moments you spend with a person will help you form a lasting impression, those first few seconds are not the only crucial moments. Whether you're a job candidate or an employer conducting interviews, you should stay on your toes throughout the beginning, middle and end of the interview. At the beginning, you'll get to know the other person, and during the middle you'll typically delve into some deeper questions about the candidate's suitability for the job. There are specific things to say at the end of an interview to bring it to a successful conclusion.
Closing Interview Questions
If the candidate hasn't had the chance to ask any questions, give her the opportunity to do so, as a way to segue into the closing portion of the interview. If you're the employer, ask an open-ended question such as, "What questions do you have for us?" If you're the job candidate, closing interview questions can show your commitment and promise. Ask how you could exceed the employer's expectations, or whether there are any reasons the employer wouldn't hire you, suggests "Forbes." Then, do what you can to address any concerns the employer brings up.
Another step to take near the end of the interview is to ask the candidate to hand over her references and other material you may have asked her to bring. If you asked her to bring in a resume or work samples, the prepared candidate will have them ready. An even more-prepared candidate will have several copies of everything. As the employer, let the candidate know that you'll be looking over these materials as part of the hiring process.
The Next Steps
At the end of the interview you should share what happens next. If the candidate hasn't already asked about it, this is the employer's chance to say how long the consideration process is going to take, when you expect to hold any follow-up interviews and how you'll be contacting the candidate. As a candidate, this is your chance to let the employer know about any vacations you've booked or other circumstances that may make it more difficult to get in touch.
Leave on a Positive Note
During the last few moments, focus on making a positive, lasting impression. At the end of the interview, thank the candidate for coming in. If you're the candidate, thank the employer for the opportunity to interview. Smile, give the other person a firm handshake, and let her know that you're looking forward to talking again soon. If you're the candidate, don't linger at this point -- the employer has made it clear that the interview is over, and trying to hang around a little longer may make you look unprofessional.
Send a Thank You Note
Hiring managers report that three out of four job seekers fail to send a thank you note. A candidate can set herself apart from other job seekers by sending a thank you email within 24 hours after the interview. Brief emails should be sent to each employee encountered during the interview, including the receptionist. It's a way to make your last impression a lasting impression.