Ending interviews on a high - how to take back control


Interviews can be scary experiences. Knowing you are turning up somewhere to be judged by people who don’t know you can be, understandably, intimidating. For a lot of people, it’s the lack of control that can be the hardest thing to get your head around - not knowing who is going to be there, what they are going to ask you, what they will think about you…

Whilst there is a lot you can do in terms of preparation to make sure things go your way, it is at the end of the interview where you are given your real chance to seize a bit of power back from the interviewers. After perhaps 45 minutes of them firing questions at you, it is your chance to lead the direction of the discussion as they ask “do you have any questions that you would like to ask us?”

At this point, you need to think about some really powerful questions you can ask the interviewer/s. Don’t just stick with the usual stuff about training opportunities and progression routes. Use this as your opportunity to shift the balance of power a little more in your favour. For example, ask the interviewer/s what his or her favourite thing about working for the company is. By doing this, you are effectively switching roles for a few minutes. The ball is in your court and they are the ones who need to think about their answers. Plus, most people like to have the opportunity to talk about themselves and to be listened to, and this is a good chance for you to show yourself to be a team-player; interested in other people, not just yourself.

Consider asking them to critique your interview performance by giving a question like “based upon the interview so far, is there anything about my skills and experience that you believe may be a problem, with regards to the role?” Again, it is putting them on the spot but also giving you the chance to iron out any potential issues almost before they arise. I know someone who did this recently. By asking this very question he was able to iron out a potential misunderstanding in his experience which really could have been a deal-breaker. He was offered the job.

If you haven’t been offered it already, ask the interviewer for a business card. So often it is the case that the initial arrangements are dealt with by a member of the HR/recruitment team so you don’t have any contacts for the people who are, ultimately, making the decisions. This allows you to control, a little easier, how things progress over the next few days. Let them know that you will be in contact if any other questions come up that you would like to know the answers to. Ask them when they are likely to be able to make a decision and add “would it be OK for me to call you after that point, if I haven’t heard anything”. The worst they can say is “no, please direct your queries to HR” and working to your deadline may even make them speed things up a bit!

Finally, as the interview ends, remind yourself of the rules when you first entered the interview room. Smile, firm handshake and thank them for their time. Last impressions can be just as important as the first. And hopefully the last 10 minutes of your interview have left them feeling that you are an assertive, self-assured and competent employee.