By Lily Zhang, November 24, 2014
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the final round interview. I know you’re probably trying to be careful about getting your hopes up, but don’t forget to also acknowledge how far you’ve come. Hiring managers do not make final round interview invitations for the fun of it—you are legitimately very close to getting the job at this point.
So, what can you expect from the final round, and how do you stand out? If you’ve gotten this far, the hiring manger or search committee knows you have the right skills—they’re probably using this final on-site interview to either gauge your cultural fit with the team or compare you to another qualified finalist. Here’s how to seal the deal.
Don’t Be Afraid to Brag a Little
While many final round interviews will be about your fit with the company or team, they usually still have some technical component to (again) verify your skills. Feel free to show off a bit. Studies have shown that when it comes to interviewing,candidates who show a bit of narcissism actually end up being rated more favorably than more modest interviewees—so don’t forget to brag a little. You can’t rely on people to make the right assumptions about you. Better to spell it out for them.
But Know When to Address Your Weak Points
That said, you don’t want to seem arrogant. It’s a fine line to walk, but one way to do it is to show that you are very self-aware about your weaknesses. The other finalists might have you beat in some areas, so you want to be able to show you’re conscious of that and working on it. Whether it’s mentioning that you’ve already spoken with someone to learn more about that particular subject or that you’re taking a class on it, acknowledging the weakness and showing the concrete steps you’ve taken to bridge the gap is refreshing and prevents you from sounding overconfident.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
The final round interview is typically held in the office you’ll actually be working in should you be offered the position. It’s a way to give you a sense of what you’re signing up for, so it’s a good idea to show interest in this whole process. That doesn’t necessarily mean vigorous nodding when the hiring manager points out the kitchen or the conference room. A better way to show interest and enthusiasm is to ask thoughtful questions. Picture yourself as part of the team and fulfilling your day-to-day responsibilities—what information do you need to complete that picture? Start there.
But Know When to Bring the Focus Back to You
Sometimes interviewers can get a little too excited about showing off the office space or talking about the projects you’ll be helping them with and forget to actually give you a chance to really make your case for the position—after all, they’re probably using this as their chance to convince you to take the job if they decide to offer it to you. But for you, this is the last opportunity to sell yourself as the right candidate for the job. Let the interviewers show you around and give you a sense of the work you’ll be doing, but don’t let the day pass by without giving them more reasons to hire you.
Don’t Be Afraid to Laugh
Interviewing is serious business, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little bit of fun with it. If you get the job, the people that you’re interacting with today will presumably be the same people you’ll be spending eight or more hours a day with. Let them know that you’ll be fun to be around by smiling when you’re speaking with them (it sounds basic, but so many people shut down during interviews that I had to say it) and even sharing a laugh if the opportunity arises. It helps to build rapport with your interviewer—and maybe you’ll even be remembered as the candidate who shared a laugh with the CEO.
But Know When to Be Professional
While, yes, you should feel comfortable laughing in an interview, you’ll have to be equally ready to get down to business. There are always some areas of the job that you want to be very serious about. If, for example, the role involves working with clients or managing others, you’ll want to be ready to lay down your experience in a way that inspires confidence. That means using an even voice to describe your qualifications—no nervous giggles. Reading your interviewer and understanding when to be serious and when to show that you’ll click right into the team is what could make the difference between you and another qualified candidate.
All in all, the final round interview is about balance: your strengths and weaknesses, asking and answering questions, and personality and professionalism. Practice and preparation help immensely, but striking the right balance will also rely on being able to read the situations as they come.
But, hey, you’ve made it this far. You’ve got this.