How to Turn Interviews Into Job Offers

Caroline Levchuck

You're responding to job listings on HotJobs. You're getting calls. You're landing interviews. But the process always seems to stop there.

So what gives? What qualities does your resume have that you're lacking in interviews?

Be Prepared With a Plan

Once a potential employer arranges a job interview, your work has just begun. Beyond deciding which suit to wear or how to ensure an on-time arrival, job seekers must research a company -- and its competition -- extensively. Use Yahoo! and Yahoo! News to get the latest news. Visit your local library and dig deeper into the company and industry's history.

Next, evaluate your abilities and experience as well as your creative problem-solving skills. How do they fit with the position for which you're interviewing? What unique abilities can you offer this company that they are currently lacking? Create a list of well thought out ideas as to how you will help the company grow, perform better or simply sell more widgets.

Ask Not What the Company Can Do For You

Once you are in an interview, forget all the advice you've heard about selling yourself to a potential employer -- at least overtly. Instead, simply let your skills "soft sell" themselves.

Ask your interviewer powerful questions about the company and its needs regarding the position for which you're interviewing. Listen carefully and try to hear what she is really telling you. Respond enthusiastically and carefully with ways in which your particular skills will fulfill those needs.

Near the close of the interview, share a few of those well thought out ideas you formulated prior to the interview. Your interviewer is sure to find your diligence and honest insights impressive as long as you avoid being critical of the company.

Ask for the Offer

That's right: If you want the job, ask for it. This requires a mix of courage and tact without even a hint of desperation.

You can employ any one of three approaches. If you're more comfortable being passive, simply speak as though you will get the job. Talk about things you are excited about doing after you start working there.

You may also wish to ask when you should start work: Next week or the week after. Asking an employer an either-or question around this could give you a start date even before you have a formal offer.

For the boldest job seeker, wait until the interview is almost over and make one powerful statement about the company, the position and your qualifications. Then simply ask for the offer -- and hold your breath.

Follow Up Like a Pro

A great interview could yield a job offer in the days immediately following if you know how to follow up like a professional.

First, make a personal phone call thanking your interviewer for her time; if she is unavailable, send an email. Next, send a written letter, typed or handwritten, that includes additional innovative ideas you have to help the organization grow. Include files or documentation -- anything that will convey how serious you are about contributing to this company's success.
If you don't get a response to any of your communications within a week, call your interviewer or hiring manager again to express your enthusiasm for the position. Also, ask when the company anticipates making a decision. Wait patiently until that time comes and call once more a day or two after the deadline to make another inquiry. Always be sure to be polite and professional.

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