How to end a phone interview

How to end a phone interview

How do you close a job interview? If you’re like many people, you don’t give it much thought during your interview preparation. Maybe you bring a few questions for the hiring manager, practice your handshake and “hire me” smile, and plan to make a graceful escape.

If so, you’re missing out on a big opportunity. First impressions are important, but when it comes to job interviews, last impressions are also a pretty big deal. They’re your final chance to make sure the hiring manager knows that you’re the best candidate for the job. Play your cards right, and you might even use those last moments to score a job offer.

The Best Ways to End a Job Interview

Confirm Your Interest in the Job

The closing of an interview is a great opportunity to express your enthusiasm for the job. One way to do this is to explain how the interview has confirmed your interest in the position.

Sample Script

I've really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about this job. Hearing about the cutting-edge technology that your firm employs and the new products in the pipeline has definitely enhanced my desire to take a leadership role with your project team.

Ask for the Job

If you are sure you want the job after the interview, do what any good salesperson does at the end of a meeting and ask for the job, albeit tactfully.

Sample Script

I want you to know that I am very interested in carrying out this role for your firm, and do hope that you will be extending an offer or offering me a spot in the next round of interviews. Please let me know if you have any further questions for me going forward.

Remind the Interviewer That You’re Qualified

The end of your interview also is an opportunity to reiterate why the position fits your skills and is a good match given your assets as a candidate.

Sample Script

In closing, it seems to me that the position is a great fit. I look forward to using my advanced cloud computing skills, expertise in project management, and ability to bring in projects on time.

Have Something to Add

In addition to preparing your own statements, be prepared for questions too. Interviewers often will ask if you have anything to add at the end of your interview. You should enter the interview with a mental list of several strengths in your background that would enable you to excel in the job.

Be ready to share any of the assets that you haven't had the chance to convey during your meeting. You can offer any additional information in combination with a summary statement about your overall fit.

Sample Script

I have addressed how I might apply my writing and research skills, but I would like to add that I have planned a variety of very successful publicity events as part of new product introductions.

Ask What Happens Next

Before leaving the interview, make sure you know what to expect from that point on with the hiring process. Ask about the timeframe for finalizing their decision and if there would be any other layers of interviewing so you can plan any follow-up communications.

Sample Script

Thank you again for speaking with me today. Can you tell me about the next steps in the process? I’m happy to send you any additional information you might need.

What to Do After You Leave the Interview

Send a Thank-You Email

How important is are thank-you notes? Very. In a survey from TopResume, 1 in 5 hiring managers said that they’d passed on a candidate because they didn’t receive a thank-you note or email after a job interview.  

To make the biggest, most positive impact, use the immediacy of email to your advantage. Send a thank-you email within 24 hours and be sure to include (or write separate notes) to each member of the hiring team.

Follow Up—But Don’t Stalk

If you have a time frame for when the hiring manager will get back to you, follow up soon after that point. For example, if they say that they’ll be inviting candidates for a second round of interviews within the next two weeks, it’s fine to send a follow-up email to check in after the two weeks are up.

If the interviewer did not provide a time frame, follow up in a week or two.

After that … let it go. Repeated contacts won’t help your case and might annoy the hiring manager. Plus, a longer wait doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the running. Many organizations take quite some time to come to a hiring decision.

Don’t Pause Your Job Search

Most importantly, do not stop searching for jobs, even if the interview went exceptionally well. Remember the old adage about putting all your eggs in one basket (and don’t).

Keep networking and applying for jobs. Above all, stay open to opportunity. You never know when an even better job will appear.

Key Takeaways

Use the Close of a Job Interview as an Opportunity: Remind the hiring manager of your qualifications, mention anything you forgot to stress during the conversation, and close by asking about next steps.

Consider Asking for the Job: Done tactfully, this method can help you seal the deal right on the spot.

Follow Up the Right Way: Send a thank-you note and follow up after an appropriate interview.

Don’t Stop Job Searching: No matter how well things go, don’t pause your search until you have a solid offer in hand.

How you close a job interview can affect the overall impression the hiring manager has of you as a candidate. If you end the interview successfully, you will leave the hiring manager with a positive memory of you and a better understanding of your skills, qualifications and passion for the position.

In this article, we explore why the way you end an interview is important, steps you can follow to successfully end an interview and tips to increase your chances of getting the job.

Why is it important to end an interview successfully?

How you end an interview can be almost or just as important as how you perform during the interview. The last few minutes of an interview can shape the interviewer's overall impression of you, making it especially important to put thought into how you will close. Putting thought into how you will end an interview can also ensure you are prepared with any questions you have that may not have been addressed and give you a final opportunity to emphasize your interest in the job and the qualifications that make you a great candidate for the position.

How to end an interview

You can take these steps to ensure you end a job interview successfully:

  1. Ask specific and well-thought-out questions about the position and company.
  2. Reiterate your qualifications for the job.
  3. Inquire if the interviewer requires any additional information or documentation.
  4. Address any issues.
  5. Restate your interest in the position.
  6. Request information on what to expect from here.
  7. Get the interviewer's contact information.
  8. Thank everyone for their time.
  9. Follow up as soon as possible.

1. Ask specific and well-thought-out questions about the position and company

Most hiring managers provide the opportunity for candidates to ask questions at the end of an interview. The questions you ask can show you care about the position and are interested in learning all you can. Here are a few questions to consider asking when ending an interview:

  • What would the expectations for me be during my first 90 days in this position?
  • How do you measure performance in this job position?
  • What are the opportunities for advancement like?
  • Why is this role available right now?
  • How would you describe your company's culture?
  • What do you like most about working with this organization?
  • What do you like least about working with this organization?
  • What would you say is the most challenging aspect of the job I am interviewing for?

The more thought-out and pointed your questions are, the better the impression you will likely make on the interviewer.

2. Reiterate your qualifications for the job

Before leaving the interview, make sure you reiterate the qualifications that set you apart from the competition. This helps to ensure the interviewer is left with a firm idea of why you're a good candidate for the job.

3. Inquire if the interviewer needs any additional information or documentation

If it was not requested before the interview, ask the interviewer if they would like to see samples of your work, your most recent project or other documentation or information that further showcases your abilities. Offering to share this information also portrays your interest in the job and the belief that you would be an excellent fit.

4. Address any issues

While there may not be apparent issues during the interview, you should consider asking a question such as "Are there any concerns as to my qualifications or ability to perform the duties of this job?" This gives the interviewer the chance to touch on any concerns they have regarding your candidacy and allows you to counter them.

5. Restate your interest in the position

After asking questions and offering to provide additional information, you should restate your interest in the position you are applying for. Interviewers often want to know that you are committed to the position to avoid wasting time and make sure you are still interested after the interview. Avoid sounding disingenuous, but do be passionate about the role.

6. Request information on what to expect from here

Next, ask for specifics as to what you can expect going forward. Questions to ask include "What are the next steps?" and "When do you plan to inform candidates of your decision?" This also emphasizes your interest and gives you an idea of when you can plan to know more about the job.

7. Get the interviewer's contact information

You also want to make sure you get the interviewer's contact information at the end of the interview. Ask for their direct email address and a work phone number if you feel it is necessary. This is important for when you send a follow-up email after the interview and in case you have additional questions after leaving.

8. Thank everyone for their time

Be sure to thank everyone present during their interview for their time and consideration at the close of the interview. Your thank you can be a simple "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today, and I look forward to hearing from you soon."

9. Follow up as soon as possible

As soon as possible, send a follow-up email to the person you interviewed with. Be sure to address them directly and once again thank them for their time and consideration. Also, include any additional information that may not have been covered in the interview but that you feel is pertinent to their understanding of you as a candidate. For example, if a particular skill you have that is relevant to the job was not discussed, mention this in your follow-up email.

Tips to consider when ending a job interview

Here are a few important tips to keep in mind when ending a job interview:

So how do you make sure a company is interested in you with your closing phrases? Here are the top phrases to use.

Recap your experience

Always thank the interviewer for their time, but use this opportunity to recap your qualifications too.

Ending the conversation with a reminder about why you’re a good fit will keep it fresh in the interviewer’s mind.

Chances are they’ll interview many more people after you, but if you end with a gentle reminder, it may stick in his/her mind.

Ask what comes next

To show your interest in the position, not only should you thank the interviewer, but you should show interest by asking what comes next.

If you just thank him/her for the interview, it doesn’t show that you’re interested in the next steps. Instead, ask ‘what are the next steps’ or ‘when should I plan to hear from you next?’

Show your enthusiasm

If you know you’re meant for the role, show it in your closing statements. When you end the interview, reiterate what makes you the perfect fit for the job and why they should hire you.

Make it sound like the ‘X role’ will be an excellent fit for you and how you can help the company grow even further.

If you used any real-life examples during your interview, summarize them in the closing, so they stay fresh in the interviewer’s mind.

Ask if they need more information

Sometimes phone interviewers feel like they need to keep things short and sweet.

If you end with ‘is there any more information I can provide you?’ it allows them to ask more questions or keep the interview going. 

Give your final thoughts

If you feel like you didn’t have enough time to highlight all your strengths during the interview, when the interviewer asks if you have any more questions or anything to add, this is your chance.

As you close, say something like ‘as I stated during the interview, I can do X, Y,  Z, but what I didn’t have a chance to mention is I can also do X, Y, Z. It helps if you prepare beforehand your list of strengths or topics you want addressed to show that you are a suitable candidate for the job.

No matter how you close the interview, the key is to give them something to remember about you. Let them know why you are a good candidate and why you should be one of the few they select to move onto the next steps.

Be as specific, cheerful, and informative as possible when you give your closing statement.

This is likely one of the few things the interviewer will remember from your interview, so practice your endings and make sure you’ve got your script down before interviewing.

How to end a phone interview

For some hiring managers, figuring out how to close an interview can be tricky. As the interview winds down, you can bring it to a graceful close by following these steps:

1. Let the candidate ask questions

Before closing the interview, an important step in the interview process is to provide an opportunity for the individual to ask any questions he or she may have.

2. Let the candidate know what comes next

Advise the candidate how and when you’re going to be in contact and whether any further steps need to be taken — forms, tests and so on. In addition to being a common courtesy, this interview closing practice creates a positive impression.

3. End the interview on a formal but sincere note

Thank the candidate for the time and repeat your commitment to follow up. Either stand or shake hands again. This action is a way of formally closing the interview and provides a signal for the candidate to leave. Walk the applicant out of the office to the elevator lobby or front door.

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After closing the interview

Knowing how to close an interview includes knowing what to do once the face-to-face discussion ends. As soon as possible after the candidate’s departure, take some time to collect your thoughts and summarize your impressions in notes. You don’t need to make any definitive decisions at this point, but recording your impressions immediately after the interview closing — while they’re still fresh in your mind — will help you immeasurably if the final choice boils down to several candidates of comparable qualifications.

Learning effective methods about how to close an interview is best perfected through practice. As you meet with more job candidates, the simple tips listed above will make closing the interviews much easier and ensure that the candidates know what to expect going forward. With practice, every business owner can conduct outstanding interviews — and end them on a positive note at just the right time.

This is a guest post by Jorg Stegemann, a headhunter with Kennedy Executive Search & Outplacement in Paris. His past articles for Forbes include “Job-Hunting Dilemma: Five Reasons Why You Didn’t Make The Cut.“ He offers more advice on his company career blog and on Twitter.

A good résumé may no longer be enough to get you in the door. Increasingly companies or their outside recruiters want you to go through a telephone interview first. In a typical search assignment with 100 or more candidates, I identify the 15 that interest me most and call them. Based on my impressions during telephone screening interviews, I meet with five or seven of these people. Only three of them make the shortlist that I present to my client.

BEFORE THE PHONE INTERVIEW

There are two types of phone interviews — scheduled and unscheduled. Often the first contact for a scheduled one comes by email or via LinkedIn, but theoretically your phone could ring at any time. So make sure you answer it yourself (keep it out of reach of your two-year-old) and have a professional voicemail message.

Unscheduled calls never work in your favor. If you’re caught by surprise, schedule another time to talk. Nobody will blame you for saying something to the effect of, “Great to hear from you. I am not at my desk and won’t be able to give this call the attention it deserves. When can I call you back?”

Do your homework. Thoroughly research the company and the interviewer, just as if you were preparing to meet in person. Expect some variation on the question, “What do you know about us?” If you are not able to state the company’s key figures, strategy and markets, the interview might be over after only three minutes. One of the nice things about a phone interview is that you can have your “cheat sheet” in front of you.

Prepare questions. These can make or break an interview. Design them with two goals in mind: To give you the information you need to determine if you want to go further; and to show you are perfect for the job.

Create a comfortable environment. If you don’t have a lot of experience with phone interviews, you might find them more stressful than live ones. So do everything you can to feel at ease. Shut out distractions and eliminate background noise (for example, from young children and pets). Have a a glass of water handy. Print out your résumé and mark key parts that you want to highlight in the conversation. Be ready 10 minutes early, so you don’t sound rushed. If you will be talking on a landline, turn off your cell phone; if you plan to do the interview on a cell phone, make sure it is fully charged. Have a paper and pen handy, so you don’t have to take notes on your computer during the call — the keyboard clicks might be distracting for the interviewer. If your computer makes audible pings as you receive email, turn off the sound.

DURING THE PHONE INTERVIEW

Listen first. Usually, the interviewer will set the stage. He or she will talk about expectations, why the person before you left, what it takes to be successful in this company and what the major challenges will be. Take notes so you are able to respond to all these points when it is your turn to talk.

The leitmotif of a successful interview is finding things that you have in common. Flagging them helps you bond with your future boss or the human resources manager. Look for ways to make these connections – for example, by saying, “Sounds familiar: We had a similar situation at company ABC. Here is what I did. And these were the results.”

Then talk. When we are in front of someone, we can send and receive visual cues. On the phone, we must make a good impression purely with our voices. Drink as much water as you need to avoid having to clear your throat. If you haven’t talked in several hours, do some voice exercises before the call. Posture is important too and has an impact on your voice. Stand, or make sure you sit up very straight, during the call.

Smile as you speak. If you don’t believe the difference this makes, test it by leaving yourself two identical voice messages — one with and one without smiling. During the phone interview, a good time to smile is when you talk about the work you’ve done, ask questions, or express your enthusiasm about the company.

Create a positive ending. If you really want the job, end the call on a positive note. Say something to the effect of, “Thanks for the call. I like what I heard and from this information, I am confident I could fill the role. I am very interested in this job and would be pleased to meet you in person. What is the next step?”

AFTER THE PHONE INTERVIEW

Send a thank-you note. Let half a business day go by and then send a brief note (no longer than one screen shot). This email should come on the same day, but not immediately after, the call. Confirm your interest in the company, ability to do the job and desire to take things to the next step.

Be patient. You won’t necessarily get a reply email to your thank-you note. Follow up one week later, and again after two weeks. I do not send more than two of these “chasers.” After three weeks, I write one last reminder saying, “Dear Mary, I was happy to talk to you on [date]. Please note that this is my third message and I will no longer bother you. I am still interested in the job (in my case, the search assignment) we discussed and would be delighted to make your acquaintance soon.” After that, it’s up to them.

Face reality. We are all up against stiff odds. During 13 years working as a recruiter, I have found a new job for approximately 350 candidates. This means that I presented 1,000 knowledge workers (one typical shortlist is three candidates). And I have had to call 650 people and tell them they didn’t make the cut.

Once you’ve followed all these steps, move on to other things. Remember: Somewhere out there is a job for you. You just have to find it.

Save Organizational Time and Money Using Professional Phone Screen

How to end a phone interview

Susan Heathfield is an HR and management consultant with an MS degree. She has decades of experience writing about human resources.

What Is a Phone Interview or Screen?

In a phone screen meeting, an employer interviews potential employees who appear qualified for the advertised job after the resume and cover letter are reviewed. These meetings, by phone, are conducted by one person, usually the hiring manager or a Human Resources staff member, who ask the same basic questions of each candidate they call.

You ask each candidate the same basic questions during a phone screen to give you a basis for comparison of the skills and responses of each person. It is also likely that during your phone interview, your candidate’s responses may lead you to ask additional different follow-on questions. This is fine as long as you ask the same list basic of questions to avoid any possibility of unconscious bias or any possibility of discrimination.

The phone screen allows the employer to determine if the candidate’s qualifications, experience, workplace preferences, cultural fit, and salary needs are congruent with the position and the organization. The phone screen saves managerial time (and in organizations that use a hiring team to interview prospective employees—staff time) and eliminates unlikely candidates.

While developing a set of customized phone screen questions for each position you are attempting to fill is the recommended approach, use these phone screen best practices to guide you.

Phone Interview Best Practices

During a phone screen, your goal is to eliminate your least qualified candidates to save onsite staff time and money. Additionally, you are hoping that your most qualified, mission compatible prospects rise to the top. During a phone screen, you are also looking for hints that the candidate’s needs are congruent with the offerings and culture provided by your organization.

You want to ask enough questions during the phone interview to determine if the person is a viable candidate. Remember, you have already screened many resumes and applications to come up with your short list of applicants eligible for a phone screen.

The applicants that you will phone interview should be your best prospects at this point in your recruitment process. If a candidate was sorted into your “maybe” resume stack, the candidate is unlikely to surpass the prospects you definitely identified as your top candidates. Don’t waste your time—or theirs—in a phone interview unless their credentials and experience were in your top tier of candidates.

Are you interested to know what you should be able to expect from the candidate during the phone interview? See these recommended phone screen interview questions.

Sample Questions for an Effective Phone Interview

Candidate’s Name: ______________________________________________

Today’s Date: ______________ Resume Attached: YES ___ NO ___

Position Title/Location: ______________________________________________

Initial Phone Interview Questions for the Specific Position

To start out your list of specific phone interview questions, you will want to develop a question that will assess the experience of the candidate in the position you are recruiting.

Sample Candidate Question

How many years of inventory management experience do you have?

List the Candidate's Response:

Then, you need to develop a question that will assess the experience of the candidate that is specific to your needs.

Sample Candidate Question

Tell me about your experience with an inventory of over half a million parts.

List the Candidate's Response:

You will next want to develop another question that will assess the experience of the candidate that is specific to your needs.

Sample Candidate Question

Tell me about your experience with computerized inventory control systems.

List the Candidate's Response:

Finally, develop a question that will assess your candidate's educational background and training.

Sample Candidate Question

Describe your educational background and experience.

List the Candidate's Response:

Next, inquire about the candidate's salary expectations.

Sample Candidate Question

Not to limit you or commit you to a certain dollar figure, but what’s the minimum salary you’d consider right now to accept another position?

List the Candidate's Response:

Ask About Facts Relevant to Your Company's Background Checking

Are you willing to agree to take a drug test, and have a criminal background check, references checks, educational background checks, and others as appropriate for this position? YES __________ NO ___________

Learn About Past Company and Job in the Phone Interview

If the candidate's responses to the above interview questions satisfy the phone interviewer, depending on the position, these are additional relevant questions to ask.

Sample Candidate Question

What size was the organization where you last worked in terms of revenue and employees?

List the Candidate's Response:

Sample Candidate Question

What were the organization’s primary products and markets?

List the Candidate's Response:

Sample Candidate Question

If the person had reporting staff, how many people reported to you directly – what were their titles?

List the Candidate's Response:

Sample Candidate Question

If the candidate is not currently working, ask why and when did you leave your most recent position?

List the Candidate's Response:

Sample Candidate Question

How have you spent your time since you left your most recent position?

List the Candidate's Response:

Ending the Phone Interview

If the candidate's responses to these questions satisfy the phone interviewer, proceed to schedule an onsite interview. If not, tell the candidate that you have other candidates who appear from the phone interview to have credentials and experience that more closely match the expectations of the position. End the phone interview politely and professionally with a thank you for taking the time to apply for the job.

How to end a phone interview

After a phone interview, a well-worded thank-you email can help you make an impression on the interviewer and gives you another chance to demonstrate your enthusiasm and remind them why you are the best person for the job. It should be a brief, informative, and professional email that expresses your appreciation and reaffirms your interest.

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How to end a phone interview

Thank You Email After A Phone Interview — Template

Download this thank you email template in MS Word format and start using it straight away.

Thank you for taking the time to interview me this morning. It was a pleasure speaking with you and I was particularly interested to learn about [mention something interesting you learned from the interviewer].

I am very excited about the prospect of joining [company name] as a [job title] and to [describe how you would add value to the company]. During our call, you mentioned [something about the demands or requirements of the position] and I do believe that I would not only rise to the challenge but excel in my performance, given my [describe specific capabilities/skills/qualities/work experience].

Please advise on the next steps in the hiring process and don’t hesitate to contact me should you require any additional information. I look forward to hearing from you.

How to end a phone interview

The phone interview is often the first step in the interview process, and serves to accomplish two goals. First, to determine whether the candidate should be brought in for an onsite interview. Second, to build a relationship with the candidate so they stay engaged in your recruitment process. Interviewing is a two-way street, and it’s important to determine mutual fit at each touchpoint. If you want to optimize the beginning of your interview process, try implementing some of these phone interview tips, afterwards, check out this list of phone interview questions to ask.

Phone Interview Tips

Tip 1: Build a structured interview process before conducting an interview

At the beginning of your recruitment process, hold a kickoff meeting with your hiring manager to determine the must-have skills and values you want to see in a candidate. Use those to create questions that your interviewer will ask each candidate during the phone interview. Doing so will ensure that you evaluate all candidates on the same criteria.

Tip 2: Be flexible with scheduling the phone interview

When scheduling interviews, it’s best to ask the candidate for their availability first, and work around it. This could mean being available during the lunch hour, or outside of normal business hours. Your candidates are just as busy as you are—if not more, because they’re juggling their current job with the job seeking process. Make it easy for them to schedule a time to chat.

Tip 3: Eliminate the phone interview, if needed

If a top-tier candidate isn’t sure about engaging in your interview process, offer to set them up for a quick phone call or coffee with the hiring manager instead. It will essentially serve the same purpose, but the candidate may be more likely to accept a meeting with someone who speaks their language.

Tip 4: Interview tips for your interviewers

Consider the scores your interviewer gives to each candidate, and whether they’re consistent with onsite interview scores. Also consider whether interviewers give high scores to candidates who were eventually hired, or low scores to those who were not. Some interviewers may be better equipped to assess candidates at the phone interview stage, while others may benefit from some coaching to help them better identify strong candidates.

Tip 5: Be prepared for phone interviews

Schedule time before each phone interview for the interviewer to review the candidate’s resume, the job description, and the questions you would like to ask. This provides a buffer to ensure the interviewer on time and prepared, so that each candidate can feel valued and leaves with a positive impression of your organization.

Tip 6: Learn your candidate’s motivations early

The phone interview is the perfect time to learn your candidate’s motivations for considering a new role. You can then use this information throughout the rest of your recruitment process to sell them on your opportunity. You may even find that their motivations align with your core values, giving you a better idea of culture-fit.

Tip 7: Give candidates the opportunity to ask questions

Candidates are screening you just as much as you are screening them, and it’s in your best interest to ensure a mutual fit. Allow the candidate to ask their own questions throughout the phone interview, and leave time at the end of the call for anything else they would like to ask. You may even glean some additional information about the candidate from what they ask, so pay attention to the things they’re interested in speaking about.

Tip 8: Let them know about next steps after the phone interview

At the end of the phone interview, let the candidate know what the rest of your recruitment process will look like, and when they can expect to hear back. Then follow through on what you say—even if it’s just a quick note to let them know you’ll need more time to make a decision.

Tip 9: Gather internal feedback quickly

Block 15 minutes on the interviewer’s calendar after the interview to get feedback while it’s still fresh in their mind. Then make sure the hiring manager reviews it in a timely fashion so they can weigh in on which candidates they’d like to see at the onsite. Gathering feedback quickly will keep your process moving along, so you can fill your role sooner and mitigate the risk of losing candidates to your competitors.

Phone interview tips: Conclusion

The phone interview is intended is to shortlist the right candidates for your opportunity, and engage them in your hiring process. It’s important to gauge the candidate for both skill and culture-fit, while also allowing the candidate to determine if your opportunity is the right one for them. When many companies are treating the phone interview as an administrative task, your organization can appeal to top-tier candidates by conducting a stand-out phone interview.

For more tips on building a stand-out interview process, download our free eBook: