You received news that you are a finalist for the position you have been coveting for months. All that work and preparation has been worthwhile. Now the heat is on. It’s you and possibly one or two finalists. The final round is different from previous rounds of interviews. In this round, the hiring committee (or hiring manager) has assessed you and the other finalists. They need to eliminate any concerns they have and determine which candidate has the edge over the others. In other words, the scrutiny is more intense. In part four of the Master the Interview series, we will review what you can do to seal the deal in the final round.
Think on Your Feet
Most likely you and your fellow finalists have been interviewing very well. To throw you off your game, the interviewing may become more grueling or strategic. You may meet with a panel of interviewers. You may meet with the “disinterested interviewer” who practically turns her back to you in an effort to make you uncomfortable. The most common strategy in the final round is for the interviewer to present examples of challenging situations and ask you to share your plan for managing the situation. This type of interview is known as a behavioral interview. To get ready for this interview, review your notes from the early stage interviews. Predict questions that may arise and practice these questions with a peer. The way to pass this type of interviewing is to relax and offer thoughtful answers to the questions. Be truthful. Often, the interviewer will ask the same question in a different way. Draw from your past experiences to demonstrate how you can be successful in the new position.
Underplay Gaps in Expertise
At this stage in the process, you have a very good sense of how your skills and experience line up with the requirements of the job. Identify your areas of weakness. What experience or knowledge might you be missing? Is there are relevant, similar skill that compensates for that skill or experience where you might be lacking? Or, is this a gap that you can’t overcome? Be prepared to discuss this with confidence in the interview. Don’t be apologetic or defensive. Downplay the gaps and redirect to the strengths you have. Lastly, always be honest.
Ask Smart Questions
This is also your time to determine if this company is the fit for you before you receive the offer. Ask any lingering questions about the company or the job. Be sure not to ask anything that has already been covered. Also, do not ask basic questions that you should know based on the company research you conducted before the interview started.
Drive Home Your Message
Earlier in part one of this series, we talked about your interview message. This is where it is critical. The decision maker is asking you to explain why you are the best for this position. Use that thirty-second sound bite to drive home your message. Cap that with a sincere explanation of why you are passionate about your career and would love to work for the company. So many times, I have heard hiring managers say that the person was not passionate about the job.
The final round interview is an exciting time. You are happy to have made it this far. It is time to dig in and get past the finish line to get the job offer. Don’t make the mistake of not preparing for this interview. I recommend that you spend twice as much time practicing for this final interview as you did for the previous interview stages.
Always focus on the value that you offer the hiring company
We hope you enjoyed part 4 of our Mastering the Interview Series. Please take a look at the rest of the series.