Hey, thanks so much for tuning into our Ask a Career Coach series! This week, we have a guest coach providing expert insight on navigating the final interview stage. Kyle will be back at the end of the month, but in the meantime, we hope you enjoy getting to know a few of our other coaches.
I’ve been interviewing for several weeks for a new position. Honestly, I’m a perfect fit for this role. I have the experience, and I’ve hit all of the key points from their job description in my resume. The salary is right in my range, plus I love the company’s culture and values.
I’ve had two in-person interviews, and I’m scheduled to go in for a final interview next week. Everyone I’ve spoken to has loved me, and they’ve all implied that I have the job in the bag. I’ve been treating this last interview as a formality to discuss the details of the job offer and some final compensation negotiations.
Then, when I called yesterday to confirm the interview time, the HR manager indicated that they have one other person also coming in for a final round. I was shocked! I’m not sure what to do. How do I make myself stand out in the final interview round against that one person in these last moments?
Dear Fiercely Competitive,
First, stay calm. There’s no point in letting a little competition throw you off your game. Going in focused on trying to “beat” the other person isn’t an effective strategy. Instead, get clear on your values. Focus on what you can contribute, and express your interest in the position.
The fact is, you’re always competing when there’s an open position: Outside applicants, internal promotions, and even the threat of leaving the slot open are all options for the company. In addition, organizations often move multiple candidates to final interviews. Finding out that there’s someone else vying for the role in this stage is to be expected and shouldn’t be seen as a bad sign.
That said, there are few things you can do to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward.
1. Emphasize the Strengths You’ve Previously Covered
First, review your previous interviews and identify the strengths you’ve already covered effectively. Make sure to highlight those strengths again and why they’ll be valuable to the organization. If you’re meeting with new people, mention the discussion you’ve had with others during the process and their positive responses.
“When I was speaking with Gregg about the project management process, he mentioned that my experience in agile software development would be a great asset for the team.”
2. Reposition Points That Were Weak or Weren’t Clear
Another thing to do is think back to any points that you maybe didn’t nail. Try to restate them in a more clear and direct manner. Don’t draw attention to the fact that you covered them poorly before, just restate them succinctly.
“In my interviews with Sammy and Alexa, they mentioned that teamwork is an important value. While much of my previous work has been individually focused, my most fulfilling and successful professional experiences have been with teams. I’m looking forward to more of that type of work here.”
3. Acknowledge the Competition and Suggest Criteria
Finally, while you may not know the competition’s exact strengths and weaknesses, you can make sure that the scales are tipped in your favor. Acknowledge that the organization has a choice and then suggest the criteria they should use to make a successful hire. By influencing the criteria, you’re indirectly selling yourself without coming across as overly self-promotional.
“Janet, I’m sure you have several good options for this role. It seems to me if you really want to raise the bar on product development capabilities, you should focus on bringing in folks that have both the technical knowledge of lean product development and the experience applying it in the healthcare space.”
While none of these will guarantee you'll get the job, they will help make sure you’re presenting yourself in the best possible light. And, of course, now that you know you’re not being asked in as a formality or to discuss the job offer but to continue to demonstrate why you should be hired, you’ll approach it in the right way. You want to be confident but not overly so. It’s not time to stop hustling, not just yet.
This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask a Credible Career Coach in the subject line.
Your letter may be published in an article on The Muse. All letters to Ask an Expert become the property of Daily Muse, Inc and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.