Interviews are notoriously the most time-consuming part of the hiring process. If you don’t have a strategy for how to end an interview as the interviewer, it’s easy to lose track of time, get lost on a tangent, or even damage the candidate’s impression of the company.
We’ll explain how to end a job interview on a positive note if you’re the one conducting it and share some tips for making the most of the few moments after the interview concludes.
Why It’s Important to Have a Strategy For Ending Interviews
Clock management isn’t just for football. Your time is valuable, and when you’re deciding who to hire, it’s essential that you get the information you need from the interview in the time allotted. This is especially true if you have many candidates to speak with.
Having an exit plan in mind will help you avoid talking in circles, droning on, or letting the interviewee dominate the conversation, all of which are detrimental to your ultimate goal of learning whether the candidate is qualified for the job.
Maintain a positive candidate experience
During an interview, a candidate is feeling out the company just as much as you’re assessing them. The end of the interview will be the last thing they remember as they decide whether they want to continue to move forward in the hiring process. If it’s awkward or worse, unpleasant, they may change their mind about their candidacy.
Also, candidates will be looking for clues as to where they stand in the running for the job, so it’s important to choose your words carefully after the conversation.
How to End an Interview as the Interviewer Effectively
1. Wrap things up
Keep an eye on the clock and your list of questions. As you near the end of your conversation, give a verbal signal that the interview is coming to a close.
Sometimes, you might need to interrupt a long-winded answer from the candidate. Use a statement like “I’m sorry to cut you off, but I want to be sure we have time to cover everything.” Then move to step number two.
2. Allow them to ask questions
There’s a good reason the customary last question in an interview is, “do you have any questions for me?” The candidate’s queries can give you valuable perspective on whether they’ve done their research on the company, what’s important to them, and where their head is regarding the job.
A candidate’s questions may help you rule them in or out of the process. If the first thing they ask about is vacation time, for example, it could be a bad sign about their level of commitment to the job or a lack of awareness about professional etiquette.
Their questions may also help you compare two similar candidates, showing you shades of their personalities that can help determine culture fit.
3. Share next steps
Candidates want transparency. In a Business News Daily survey, job seekers cited not knowing where they stand as their number one gripe with the hiring process.
While you don’t need to tell a candidate explicitly whether they’re moving forward or not, you should wrap up the interview by giving them an idea of what they can expect next. How soon should they expect to hear from you? Will you communicate via email, phone call, or some other method? Can they reach out to you if they think of additional questions?
Transparency goes a long way to setting a positive tone and keeping strong candidates interested in the position.
4. Keep it neutral
Avoid making any definitive statements about the interviewee’s status at the end of an interview. At best, you risk giving them an inaccurate impression of their job prospects, and at worst, you open yourself up to the possibility of legal action.
Even if you feel 100% certain in the moment that they’re the right pick for the job, things can change. The next interviewee could come in with experience that’s even more relevant to the job, or another decision-maker might raise concerns about the candidate’s aptitude. Plus, you still need to check all the boxes, like speaking with references and conducting a background check, if applicable.
The same goes for making promises about what employment might or might not look like, like guaranteeing a certain number of PTO days or promising a specific perk. Defining the terms of employment should be left to the negotiation stage after an official offer has been made.
5. Thank them for applying
A core component of a strong employer brand is leaving all candidates–even those who don’t receive an offer–with a positive impression of their experience.
Always conclude an interview with your sincere thanks for the candidate’s time. Though the conversation may have revealed that the applicant was clearly not a fit for the role, you want them to walk out of the interview feeling like they were respected and their participation was appreciated.
6. Prepare for curve balls
You never know what a candidate’s going to throw at you. Be prepared for unusual or even bold questions like “do I have the job?” at the end of an interview. Some (admittedly poor) job-seeker advice sites advocate for such aggressive tactics as a means for the candidate to demonstrate their confidence.
Maintain your composure and avoid sharing too much information. Don’t be afraid to say you’ll need to get back to the candidate if they ask a question and you’re genuinely unsure of the answer.
Close the loop
Your work as an interviewer isn’t done once the candidate has left the room or signed off from the Zoom call. As soon as you can, complete your candidate scorecard and jot down pertinent details you want to remember. Don’t put it off, as the more time that passes after the interview, the fuzzier the details of your conversation will become. Making the right hire depends on taking sharp notes to help you accurately compare candidates.
Move the process forward
Once you’ve taken all the necessary post-interview steps, put the candidate in a category to determine what steps need to be taken next. We find three categories are usually sufficient: move forward, eliminate, or need more information.
More information might be another interview, a conversation with their references, a second opinion from someone else in the company, etc. Then, take the next steps accordingly to keep the hiring process moving forward.