Author of nearly a dozen books, Jeffrey Fox shares, “The job interview is a sales call to sell yourself.” The goal of the interview is for the hiring company to “buy” you. At which point you receive an offer letter, you have a clear picture of the exact value of the transaction. However, the decision to buy happens long before the offer letter.
Hiring decision are made much earlier than most people imagine. Neil Anderson (1992) states “interviewers are far more influenced by information emerging early in the interview than that emerging later.” An 80-year meta-review of hiring found “interviewers reach a final decision about applicants after only four minutes of a thirty-minute interview.”
Crossing the Threshold
How do you know when you have crossed the golden threshold and transitioned from a candidate to an employee?
- Watch the hiring manager’s body language. They will be more relaxed. They might crack a smile. Their gestures will be more animated. The formality of the interview will melt into a more casual tone. In interviewing for a sales position, I had a hiring manager rattle off 15 rapid fire interview questions and then abruptly stand up in mid-sentence and start an impromptu tour of the facility. A good sign indeed.
- They are off script. Many hiring managers follow a scripted interview. When they put the pen down or push the paper aside, they have made up their mind.
- They will stop asking questions and start talking about the company. Think of it as their sales pitch to you. Sharing details about a specific client or an upcoming project highlights a growing trust. They would not be sharing their “secrets” if they were not interested.
- They will mention names – future coworkers or other managers you will have to meet before they make the (official) hiring decision. They are already beginning to see you functioning in their organization and interfacing with the team.
Some managers are very good poker players and the interview game becomes much harder. Their actions will be more subtle. Look for a personalized touch. Instead of dropping you off in the lobby, they will walk you to the door and linger a moment with you.
Once you receive one or more buying signals you will want to communicate in kind. State your specific interest in the company followed by a trial close. “Tom, the job description provides a good outline of the position. You filled in a lot of the holes and I am getting a good picture of how I will be able to contribute. My interest in the position is extremely high. What other background information can I share with you?” Tom will either continue to ask interview questions, which indicates a need for additional information before making a decision. Otherwise expect a comment like, “It looks promising. Let’s set up a time for you to talk to Samantha next week.”