The Final Interview
Posted December 6, 2009on:
I got back a few days ago from a long interview day at a large food company. I am applying for a sales position. If I get the job, I’ll let you all know who it is. Before going, I was very, very nervous. After a bit, my goal was just to survive the experience and getting the job would be an extra. I had to calm myself down somehow so I started looking for tips. I went online to find tips and I asked my ASU Career Coach for some advice.
My interview was in another state, so I had to fly there. The company made my travel arrangements, though this is not always the case. I think that companies like to leave you mostly on your own in order to see how you’ll cope. Especially if you’re a college hire, they will want to know how mature and self-sufficient you are. Of course, I may be wrong, but it sounds right. In my case, they got me the car, hotel, and flight. I had to handle all the in-betweens. This would have been easy had I been provided really good directions. While not a deliberate sabotage, no one had told me my destination was in the middle of nowhere. I suppose that was my test. I passed due to a GPS I borrowed from my father. Others may just look it all up on Map Quest first.
I will make a side note about renting a car here. I do not like to drive. I hate it, in fact, but it’s a necessary evil. If you know you will have to rent a car and dislike driving like me, do a bit of research into which type of car you want to rent. If possible, drive one first. Getting used to a new city and a new car at once was nerve-wracking, and I was already plenty nervous. It did not help my mood.
When the interview day began, I came face to face with perhaps the biggest difference between the final interview and the ones before it: the interviewers. The final interview is a lot like the ones before it, of course. The position hadn’t changed, and the questions I was asked were all very similar. Still, before, I had generally been talking to an HR professional. While very nice, she probably did not know much about the specifics of the position and what it’s like day to day. From what I’ve been told, HR interviewers tend to have a list of questions and are listening for key phrases in the answers. They don’t have to work with you. In the final interview, the interviewers are the people who may become your managers and coworkers. In my case, I spoke to the VP of Sales, a trainer, a product manager, a product designer, and other people involved with the sales department. They’re looking for not only if you have the skills but if you have a personality they want to work with.
You may have noticed I’m speaking about interviewers. The final interview tends to be long; mine was a whole day. A meal is often included in the process. I like to think that even if I don’t get the job, I got a good lunch. And it was very good. I ate at the town country club while being interviewed by a gentleman high up in the company hierarchy. I was very nervous leading up to this. After all, it was not just lunch, it was a critical interview. I wondered, should I eat? What should I order? So I asked my career coach at ASU. She told me to eat. We’re human beings, and expected to eat, so go ahead. But she warned me not be engrossed in my food. I had to stay alert and active in the conversation over the meal. Some places do an informal lunch, others are more formal. Mine was a formal interview. In either case, it’s still an interview. Still, I had a very nice lunch of raviolis. As I said, if I don’t get the position, I’ll have had a nice meal.
Other than that, I had 6 interviews very similar to the first interview. They were back to back and stressful, but moreso because of the pace than the questions. Below are some tips I think would help. You may think they are similar to my tips for first round interviews. You’re right.
Review what happened in the previous interviews. From all my reading, it seems that previous experience is a guide to the future. Interview styles are very similar due to the corporate culture and approach to the job. And I can tell you, after completing my interview, this is true. If you first interview was very unstructured and free-flow, that’s likely how the others will be, too. Now, I can always be wrong, but it’s a tip that might help you feel less nervous as you continue in the process.
Relate your abilities to the job. Try and help the interviewer see you in the position by always pointing out how you have the qualities they are looking for. I find that writing cover letters helps me do this. After all, a cover letter is all about showing how your abilities are what they are looking for so they will interview you. An interview is the exact same thing to get them to hire you.
Dress and act formally. Just like in the previous interviews, you need to look the part. Dress nicely in business professional. Behave well, too. Especially if you are going to be in their corporate headquarters, pretend you are always being watched. It might not be all that far off. My Career Coach at the WP Carey School of Business at Arizona State told me to wear a suit on the plane to my interview. After all, she said, you never know who else will be on that plane.
Get business cards. Now I am terrible at this one, but it is very, very important. It shows you care, and it lets them know you will be sending them thank you notes, which leads us to…
Send thank you notes. This is extraordinarily important. Apparently most people don’t do this. So if you do, imagine who is going to stick out in their minds come decision time? And when it’s the last interview, this is even more important.