Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

How do you stand out during the final interview? I know I can handle the job based on the given job description and my experience and yet I was not chosen. – Mary, Administrative Assistant

Ace The Final Job Interview — How To Be The Candidate That Gets Hired


By the time candidates get to a final interview, they have all proven they are good enough to do the job. In order to get to the final interview stage, you need to pass a resume screen and at least one other job interview. Those early rounds screen out the obviously bad matches and the lazy candidates who don’t know how to interview, so that the remaining candidates are the higher quality ones. Your competition for any job increases as you get further along the interview process.

To stand out during the final interview, you have to beat out other strong candidates (here are three real-life examples of long-shot candidates who got hired). Assume that everyone left in the running is qualified to do the job. Why should the employer pick you?

Match the unwritten job requirements

The best job interviews are a two-way street – the employer is vetting you, but you are also learning about the job. A job description can never fully capture all the nuances of the role, but hopefully you have been asking smart questions along the way so you understand some of the unwritten job requirements. For example, the job description might have a laundry list of projects you would work on, but your interviews uncover that certain projects are time-sensitive, so you can focus your final interviews on how you would nurture those projects specifically to completion. Or you discover that one project is in trouble, so you emphasize how strong your turnaround skills are. Or you hear that team members are in conflict over project direction, which prompts you to highlight your coaching and people development skills, even if these were never explicitly stated in the original job description.

Fit the culture

You are not just accepting a job – you are joining a company. With each round of job interviews, you meet more people. Do your interview examples match the culture? If everyone you meet focuses on the numbers, make sure you attach metrics in your interview answers. If your interviewers emphasize collaboration and consensus as they tell you about the company and what they do, mirror that style when you talk about your other work environments. If you don’t have past experience that matches the prospective employer (say you’ve always worked in big, slow-moving companies and you’re interviewing with a high-growth start-up), then find examples in your outside activities. You need to show that you can fit in from the first day.

Want the job

When choosing among a group of qualified candidates, desire trumps experience. People want colleagues who are excited to work with them, who have a genuine interest in the company, and who want the job. This isn’t about flattering your interviewers. It’s about showing up with energy and enthusiasm. If you think that being too eager will hurt your negotiation position, it will not! Instead, your enthusiasm will make others more invested in helping you. Proactively focusing on your excitement level will also help counteract the job interview fatigue that can easily ensue after rounds and rounds of interviewing. Job interviews are exhausting, so you have to consciously work to keep your energy high.

Keep other leads in play – just in case

Since the competition is fiercer at the final job interview round, you have to be prepared with other leads in case this one doesn’t work out. You might be bested by another candidate. Or an internal candidate making a lateral move might take priority. Or the headcount might disappear due to a change in budget, strategy or both. Juggling multiple leads is an organizational challenge, but on the plus side, it will make you less dependent on any one job. You can interview with confidence knowing that whatever happens with one opportunity, there are others – and you’ll be just fine.

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