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Top 3 ways to close an interview

ABC. Always Be Closing.

Whilst we don’t advise you to go all “Glen­garry Ross” on your Inter­view­er, we do advise that you (gently) push for a close at each stage of the inter­view pro­cess.

Clos­ing” is a term from the world of sales, and refers to push­ing for your desired out­come.

E.g. Joe Sales­man “closes” a deal when Cus­tom­er X decides to place an order.

What is the desired out­come of the inter­view pro­cess, from the Jobseeker’s per­spect­ive?

  • To speak/​meet with and learn more about Com­pany X,
  • Assess if there is a good fit with Com­pany X
  • If yes, get a job offer from Com­pany X

So with regards to an inter­view, by “close” we mean “push for a job offer” — or “push closer to a job offer” — wheth­er by phone, Skype or in-per­son.

Why push for a close?

Push­ing for a close, if you want the role, shows ini­ti­at­ive — which is viewed pos­it­ively, and clearly shows your interest in the pos­i­tion.

It also shows that you value your time; If you don’t push for a close, and you don’t ask “what are next steps?” to get­ting you to that final answer, then you are at the mercy of the great unknown.

A sig­ni­fic­ant per­cent­age of can­did­ates do not do this; they turn up, say good­bye then anxiously wait for their phone or email to ping.

Push­ing for a close will set you apart.

Besides not even think­ing to ask, a com­mon bar­ri­er is not know­ing how to ask.

Here’s our Top 3 Ways to close an interview

1)  Any reser­va­tions?

  • Thank them for the oppor­tun­ity
  • Express your enthu­si­asm for the role and com­pany
  • Sum­mar­ise why you feel you’re a great fit
  • Ask if they have any reser­va­tions or ques­tions about your fit for the role (if they do, answer them)

Example:

Its been won­der­ful meet­ing today, thank you for the oppor­tun­ity. I’m very excited by plans XYZ for the future and this role. I think I’d be a great fit because of my exper­i­ence and skills gained at Com­pan­ies XYZ.

Do you have any reser­va­tions about me with regards to this role?”

If yes, answer them ideally with examples and then ask “what are next steps? And when will I hear from you?”

2)  Are you happy to move for­ward?

  • Thank them for the oppor­tun­ity
  • Express your enthu­si­asm for the role and com­pany
  • Sum­mar­ise why you feel you’re a great fit
  • Ask “are they happy to offer the role/​move things for­ward?”

Example:

Its been won­der­ful meet­ing today, thank you for the oppor­tun­ity. I’m very excited by plans XYZ for the future and this role. I think I’d be a great fit because of my exper­i­ence and skills gained at Com­pan­ies XYZ.

I want this role and would love to know if you are happy to move things forward/​offer me the pos­i­tion?”

This one is more dar­ing as it is very dir­ect and you are expli­cit about your interest — yet still leaves some room for an objec­tion, which you could then deal with.

Then ask “what are next steps? And when will I hear from you?”

3)  Fur­ther inform­a­tion?

  • Thank them for the oppor­tun­ity
  • Express your enthu­si­asm for the role and com­pany
  • Sum­mar­ise why you feel you’re a great fit
  • Ask if you can provide any fur­ther inform­a­tion to help make decision

Example:

Its been won­der­ful meet­ing today, thank you for the oppor­tun­ity. I’m very excited by plans XYZ for the future and this role. I think I’d be a great fit because of my exper­i­ence and skills gained at Com­pan­ies XYZ.

Is there any oth­er inform­a­tion I can provide to help you make your decision?”

Then ask “what are next steps? And when will I hear from you?”    

Key takeaways
  • Know your audi­ence. If the inter­view­er is more sub­dued, or the inter­view isn’t going that well it prob­ably doesn’t make sense to ask for the pos­i­tion out­right.
  • After thank­ing the inter­view­er, express your excite­ment and sum­mar­ise why you are great for the role — then ask about mov­ing for­ward, or any reser­va­tions.
  • Ask about next steps and when you will hear from them.
  • Do not fake enthu­si­asm as most people can tell right away.
  • Choose the close style that suits your per­son­al­ity and you feel com­fort­able with, and it will always come out more nat­ur­ally.

Whilst the answer — no mat­ter how great you’ve done — will mostly be along the lines of “thank you its been great meet­ing you, we need to dis­cuss this further/​have oth­er can­did­ates to see/​ before mak­ing a decision” — ask­ing will leave a really good impres­sion.

More rapport? Why Developers need non-technical skills

You might not think it, but even Developers need so-called “soft skills” to be truly suc­cess­ful (in fact they’re so essen­tial, we use “non-tech­nic­al” rather than the term “soft”).

For both office and remote roles, how you do your work and what you are like to work with are huge dif­fer­en­ti­at­ors and key to suc­cess. This is backed up by primary and sec­ond­ary feed­back from across the globe.

Let’s look at key areas where non-tech­nic­al skills can help you suc­ceed as a developer:

Competitive advantage at interview

If a recruit­er is faced with 2 developers of sim­il­ar exper­i­ence, the next fil­ter­ing cri­ter­ia will be their non-tech­nic­al skills and char­ac­ter.

How well will he fit the team? How per­son­able is he? How good is he at think­ing out­side the box and crit­ic­al think­ing? How good are they at con­vey­ing ideas to a team and trans­lat­ing user require­ments to tech­nic­al spe­cific­a­tions?

Non-tech­nic­al skills help sep­ar­ate the adequate from per­fect can­did­ates.

So where­as your tech­nic­al skills indic­ate what you do… Non-tech­nic­al skills relate to how you will do your role — what you will be like to work with.

Employ­ers are increas­ingly put­ting emphas­is on non-tech­nic­al skills in com­pet­it­ive mar­kets — whilst find­ing them in short sup­ply — as repor­ted by the Wall Street Journ­al.

Many of the lead­ing tech com­pan­ies we deal with put more emphas­is on a candidate’s approach to tasks, than their tech­nic­al know­ledge, with many want­ing and will­ing to train on the job for their com­pany/sect­or- spe­cif­ic platform/​fork.

Competitive advantage on the job

Bey­ond help­ing you land the job, non-tech­nic­al skills are actu­ally essen­tial to your suc­cess and advance­ment, once actu­ally on the job.

This is rein­forced by research by the Stan­ford Research Insti­tute Inter­na­tion­al and the Carne­gie Mel­on Found­a­tion, which found that  “75% of long-term job suc­cess depends on people skills, while only 25% on tech­nic­al know­ledge.”

Con­sider the fol­low­ing points and wheth­er they are key to top-tier per­form­ance as a developer:

  • Deliv­er­ing high-level work on time, con­sist­ently
  • Col­lab­or­at­ing on pro­jects that require tech­nic­al com­prom­ises to make dead­lines
  • Present­ing to dir­ect­ors and col­leagues
  • Per­suad­ing col­leagues to con­sider dif­fer­ent (tech­nic­al) points of view
  • Appre­ci­at­ing the end-user’s per­spect­ive from a UX and/​or design stand­point
  • Coach­ing and being coached on (non) tech­nic­al mat­ters
  • Work­ing pro­duct­ively with a vari­ety of man­agers, each with their own unique style
  • Being flex­ible enough to handle rap­idly chan­ging design require­ments, and still hit dead­lines
  • Assist­ing team mem­bers that are strug­gling
  • Tak­ing over a pro­ject before you’re told it’s in trouble

It’s not dif­fi­cult to see why man­agers and com­pany lead­ers would value the above.

Strengths or weak­nesses in these non-tech­nic­al skills can mean the dif­fer­ence between project/​team/​company suc­cess or fail­ure, and/​or mean the dif­fer­ence between rap­id pro­mo­tion, stag­na­tion or redund­ancy.

So how can your boost your chances? 
  1. A per­son­al web­site is an excel­lent way to show­case your per­son­al­ity, skills and achieve­ments pri­or to inter­view.
  2. Out­line your non-tech­nic­al skills on your CV — and high­light how these trans­lated to suc­cess (provide some met­rics).
  3. Pre­par­a­tion: exam­ine the points we provided above, and where applic­able try to provide examples of when you demon­strated these skills. If asked to give an example of good com­mu­nic­a­tion, provide an example of a time you suc­cess­fully pitched an idea intern­ally. For adapt­ab­il­ity you could per­haps dis­cuss times you’ve delivered on pro­jects des­pite dif­fi­cult team mem­bers.
  4. Com­mit to con­tinu­ous self devel­op­ment and be hon­est with your­self. Do not try to fake it. You will get found out on the job any­way. Instead, make note of the areas you lack and make a determ­ined effort to improve them!
  5. It is import­ant to note that companies/​sectors will dif­fer, and can value a dif­fer­ent mix of non-tech­nic­al skills to oth­ers. The key is to work on being as well roun­ded as pos­sible, and know your sec­tor.

How long can you sit on a tech vacancy?

It’s tempt­ing to hold off on that new developer hire — just squeeze more out of the cur­rent team right?

Costly mis­take.

Par­tic­u­larly for soft­ware developers who have a giant impact on com­pany suc­cess. Lost rev­en­ues, lost profits… buggy soft­ware, missed pro­ject launch win­dows, high­er volume of calls to tech sup­port, longer wait times when on the phone to tech sup­port.… unhappy cus­tom­ers, repu­ta­tion loss — All real con­sequences of under­staffed and/​or over­worked developer teams.

The impact of a soft­ware developer can eas­ily reach multi-mil­lions or even bil­lions (take the 13 man strong team that built and sold Ins­tagram for $1 Bil­lion, 13 months after launch)
Unfilled tech vacan­cies can cost you a ton.

It’s not a stretch to ima­gine the fin­an­cial impact of miss­ing a new pro­ject launch, los­ing ground to a hungry com­pet­it­or, or the sig­ni­fic­ant fin­an­cial impact of launch­ing a new, buggy soft­ware product that gets panned in the press and ignored by cus­tom­ers en masse, because teams were under­manned, over­stretched, or simply “good enough” tal­ent was hired in a pinch.

How it adds up

There’s a num­ber of for­mu­las that can be applied to account for the cost an unfilled vacancy. Some more elab­or­ate than oth­ers.

We’ll keep things simple.

Assum­ing every employ­ee has a net pos­it­ive effect on com­pany rev­en­ue (why else would you hire them), we can apply a very simple for­mula that demon­strates the impact on rev­en­ue of an employ­ee — and the rev­en­ue cost of an unfilled vacancy. Simply divide annu­al rev­en­ue by the num­ber of employ­ees. Then divide that num­ber by the no. of work­ing days and mul­tiply by aver­age days to hire.

But not all employ­ees are cre­ated equal. At a tech com­pany, the developers are the heart of the wealth cre­ation engine. There­fore we add a mul­ti­pli­er of 1 2 or 3 and put developers in the top.

The numbers

You can work out the costs using the fol­low­ing for­mula: 

Lost rev­en­ues = (Annu­al rev­en­ue /​ no. of employ­ees) /​ 220 work­ing days X mul­ti­pli­er 1, 2 or 3, X aver­age days to hire.

For a small SME with rev­en­ues of £5million, with 40 staff a developer is there­fore worth £1700 per day in rev­en­ue.

We find this num­ber (£1700 per day in rev­en­ue, per developer) holds up across com­pan­ies of vari­ous sizes in the SME space that we deal with (Uni­corns like Ins­tagram not­with­stand­ing!)

Hence, even at a con­ser­vat­ive estim­ate, an unfilled tech vacancy poten­tially brings huge, non-trivi­al costs.