Acing the Final Interviews: Part 1

So you’ve made it to the final interview! Congratulations!

It’s not over at this point though, and you need to seriously beware the deadly assumption that “the job is ‘in the bag’”. Folks, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings and you have an excellent offer letter in your hands. As I often tell my recruitment staff and candidates that we work with- we’ve seen torpedo at the final stages many times- so keen focus and disciplined preparation are CRITICAL in order to ace the final interviews.

Here are my top 5 essentials to keep in mind as you PREPARE for the final interview:

1. Assume competition. Do not go into this meeting thinking you are the “finalist”. Whether they tell you or not, there is almost always someone else that is being considered, right down to the last minute. (Prepare every argument and example to combat points delivered by a similarly qualified candidate. For more on this, see PART 2 of this blog)

2. Lay it all on the line. Prepare for this meeting with every ounce of creativity and enthusiasm you have. If you try to “wing it” you absolutely will fail. You have one shot at closing this deal, and the key is preparation.

3. Connect with the humans. It doesn’t matter how technical the job is. Even nuclear physicists have to interact with one another sometimes. At the heart of it all, most people want to know that they aren’t hiring the next office jerk. So making friends, enjoying humor, being at ease, projecting confidence (not arrogance) throughout the final interview is what sets apart the people who leave with offer letters from the really nice runner-up candidates.

4. Be prepared for the brass tacks. The question can be phrased a number of ways, but in the end, you will probably hear something like, “So, what’s it going to take for you to join ZYZ Corporation?” This question should not come as a surprise to you. This is not the time to get cute with vague answers. This is the time to give them your number. A small range is appropriate, but don’t dance around answering the question. The final interview is the time where salary will most definitely come up.

5. Negotiate with grace. Understanding that different industries, areas of the country, and people in general respond to negotiation differently is important at the final interview. You will want to read your interviewers’ body language and styles in order to get a grasp of what level of negotiation is acceptable and what crosses the line to “annoying and greedy”. So many people lose sight of the fact that while some negotiating is beneficial, crossing the line and being seen as unreasonable, greedy and money-fixated instead of opportunity and long-term focused, can backfire on a candidate. As in most sensitive things in life, it’s all in how you handle the matter. Tact, diplomacy and a reasonable approach can go a long way in getting you what you want from the company- without alienating the very people you will be working with and for.  I cover this topic in depth in my Job Interview Preparation series.

With forethought and planning, even the most timid candidate can represent themselves with confidence and grace. You will be able to project confidence with the proper measure of team-focus and overall likeability.

(Continue to Part 2)

Lauren Goodson, Founder and President of Cornerstone Recruitment Group and Career Expert Academy  is a nationally renowned expert in Job Search Strategies, Career Coaching and Hiring for the Professional audience. She has helped thousands of job seekers to achieve their potential and grow their career.  Through ,  Lauren has redefined professional job search training by establishing an all-in-one resource for extensive and exceptional expert information.  Be sure to visit for more info.



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