Ask for the Job and Keep Control

I’m occasionally asked about when to follow up after an interview, particularly if nothing definitive was indicated as the interview wound down.

Let’s have a closer look at a strategy for ending your interview.  I call it, “Ask for the job and keep control.”

First of all, I’m not suggesting you literally ask for the job, although in some cases I could see it.  For example, if it’s a one-interview process where you’re one of several they’re considering and they’ll look to make a decision very soon, you might want to ask for the job.  Employers appreciate someone who wants the job, so literally asking for the job might be wise in that case.

But for positions where a second interview is the next step, avoid asking for the job.  Instead, show genuine enthusiasm for having discussed the role and your prospects for continuing in the interview process.

So how do you know when to ask for the job or otherwise show that enthusiasm for next steps?  Typically an employer will ask whether you have any questions.  Once they’ve addressed your questions you should be at a good point to begin your wrap up.

Try briefly restating what you’ve understood them to be looking for in a candidate.  Mention you’ve tried to show them why your background and personality/character appears to match well with their needs and that you’re optimistic about the fit.  You might even ask them how they feel about things.  Just realize they’ll not be truthful with you, particularly if they feel you’re not a great fit.  They don’t want confrontation at this point.  They want you out of their office.

Now that you’ve addressed the “ask for the job,” let’s talk about “keeping control.”  Just as a good salesperson never leaves a sales call without knowing next steps, you should never leave an interview without knowing what their next step will be and when they expect it to occur.

Most interviewers will volunteer that information.  For those who don’t, you need to restate your interest in the job, then ask them what they see as next steps and when they’d anticipate that happening.

Once they’ve shared the timeline, you’re now ready to “keep control.”  For example, let’s say they tell you they have more candidates to interview and they look to make a decision in a week or so.  Let’s say today’s a Monday.  Restate your interest in the position and ask whether it’d be alright to call back if you haven’t heard from them by, say, that following Tuesday.

Learning the timeline and gaining permission to follow up gives you a definitive “next step” in case their deadline passes without communication.  No longer will you have to wonder about when to follow up.  Try these tips… and good luck!