October 28th, 2009 | 6:00 am

Ask-A-Career Coach: How Final Round Job Interviews Are Different…Or Not

filed under Ask A Career Coach

jobsearchContributed by Caroline Ceniza-Levine of SixFigureStart™

A workshop participant recently asked me, “How do I prepare for my final interview at [major financial institution]?”

Kudos to this person for recognizing that final round job interviews are different from other interviews. At the finalist stage, the prospective employer knows much more about you and can tailor the interviews accordingly so dissect the rounds prior to this one and review what everyone who interviewed you asked and what you answered. You need to be consistent. You need to recall everyone by name (to show that you care). You need to be able to summarize what you discussed (to show that you were listening).

However, you can never know that this is indeed the final round. Unless you are a student and there is a very structured “Super Saturday” campus recruiting process where all interviews are completed in a day, it is never clear that it’s the final even if they tell you it is. A key decision-maker may not show. The job spec may change ever so slightly just after finals time, and it turns out they need to screen for additional things.

Because you should never feel certain the “final round” is indeed the final one, you need to interview as if there will be more rounds. Don’t get overanxious that this is a “make or break” round. Don’t get presumptuous and push for a decision or make a hard close. In this way, treat the final round like any earlier job interview. Explicitly reiterate your interest. Have intelligent questions to ask. Leave them wanting more.

I don’t want to give the impression from the above general pieces of feedback that I would not change how I coach a client through subsequent job interviews versus a general first round. Since the employer knows more at this stage, so should my client. We would need to review exactly what she said, not just to ensure consistency, but to assess what worked and what didn’t; what was left unclear or unsaid; and what needs to be highlighted or refined. Ultimately, the strategy for dealing with subsequent job interviews is highly personalized because each interview changes the nature of the job search relationship. As the candidate, therefore, you need to be tracking this type of data and reviewing it for what needs to be done specifically at this time and for this employer. If you have two “finals” with two different employers, your strategy would still be different (same you, but different targets). Not only are final rounds different, each job interview is, too. And, a distinct, highly focused approach to each is required.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career coach, writer, speaker, Gen Y expert and co-founder of SixFigureStart™ , a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline most recently headed University Relations for Time Inc. Caroline is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Professional Development at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs and a life coach.

1 comment

  1. Linette Célibataire

    Thanks for the tipps. It’s true that people tend to think “Well if I’ve come that far in the recruiting process then the company needs me so I can be more relaxed” but you actually have to fight even more.