The phrase “final interview” is strangely comforting for many people. After multiple rounds of intense meetings with people who are all trying to make a Very Important Decision about your life, it’s easy to think that you’re basically done when a recruiter reaches out for your availability to come back in just one more time. However, while this is a clear indication that the end is in sight, there are some pretty big mistakes many people make in that very last meeting.
So, to help you avoid making an error that could cost you a dream job as you embark on the final step, let’s acknowledge some of the most common mistakes and discuss how to fix them.
1. You’re Dressing for Interviews as if You Already Have the Job
I work for a company where the dress code is pretty relaxed. And I’ve enjoyed that immensely, especially on days when I want to work out during lunch. However, it’s easy to see that kind of environment during the interview process and think, “Hey, I bet I’ll impress them if I show up in a pair of jeans and that comfortable t-shirt I love.” You might grab the recruiter’s attention by adhering to their exact dress code for a final interview, but not always in a positive way.
How to Fix This
At this stage of the interview process, you should have a pretty good idea of how much you’ll need to dress up to meet with the hiring manager. And whatever you’ve been wearing so far has worked! So, stick to what you’ve been doing all along. If that means business casual, stick with business casual—even if you think the final interview will be pretty informal, and even if “happy hour” is mentioned as being a part of it.
2. You’re Talking to Interviewers as if You’re Best Friends
This one caught me off-guard when I was a recruiter. On one occasion, it started with what I thought would be an innocent handshake. Which turned into a hug. Which turned into a handful of questions about how my wife was doing (I couldn’t even remember if I had mentioned my wife previously). It’s one thing to be friendly throughout the entire process, but it’s another when you walk in for a final interview as if you’ve been buddies with the hiring manager for decades.
How to Fix This
You don’t need to act like a robot when you clearly know someone. But, you should also still keep the conversation professional. Interact with this person like he or she’s your manager’s manager—that means being more respectful than playful.
3. You’re Telling Your Friends It’s a Done Deal
This one’s more for your sake, than for the sake of getting the job. And again, I get it. You’ve been through a lot to get to where you are now, and you just want to start celebrating with all your friends. If you’re like me, you probably call everyone you know at this point and say, “I’m about to get an offer and am getting paid all the money! Let’s go eat humongous cheeseburgers and celebrate my achievements!”
The problem is that unless your final interview is being scheduled just to talk salary, your interviewers will have some serious questions for you. How do I know? Well, in my experience as a recruiter, I’ve conducted some of the most intense question-and-answer sessions in this round. And in most cases, we were still considering a handful of candidates.
How to Fix This
You should be really proud of the fact that you’ve made it this far. However, you’re also setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment by telling your friends it’s in the bag. Plus, if you’re going in with this attitude, you’re probably coming off as cocky—more than confident. The fix is simple, though: Instead of counting your money, try saying to your friends, “I’m happy to have made it this far, but the final interview is still going to be a challenge.” It’s a slight mindset tweak that’ll help you approach this last meeting the right way, whether you end up getting an offer or not.
An invitation for a final interview is something you should be proud of every time you receive one. However, it’s also not a good time to start celebrating your new job. Stay focused on making yourself irresistible to the hiring manager, even in the most casual final interview settings. It might seem like a formality, but there’s still a lot on the line when you’ve reached this point of the process.
Photo of interview courtesy of vgajic/Getty Images.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author