John Lewis was a recruiter, trainer, and manager. He excelled at everything he tried in the recruitment business—a business that is very oriented toward people with sales experience and/or sales aptitude. John had those sales instincts, and he also had a very dry wit and was really, really funny.

One of the great advantages of being an on-the-road trainer is that you get a chance to meet top recruiters “‘up close and personal.” And (if you keep your mouth shut and your ears open) you can learn an awful lot about how to maximize your results and do this business correctly. John and I both took the time to learn from the best.

Two of the closing techniques John learned were the methods of training the candidates to do their own closing during their face-to-face interviews. Here are two of John’s pearls of wisdom that I learned from him years ago and still teach to this day.

Below are two ways the candidate closes during an interview:

#1—Closing at the BEGINNING of the interview
At the beginning of the interview, the candidate enters the interview room and shakes hands with the hiring manager. At this point, when the hiring manager is least expecting a close, have the candidate say, “I haven’t interviewed in a long time. What’s going to happen? Can we conclude our business today if everything goes well?”

The hiring manager, not expecting an initial closing question, is usually taken off-guard by this question. Because of this, he comes up with a “to the point” answer.

The candidate then continues with the interview. At the end of the interview, the candidate now has the hiring manager’s initial answer against which to close. Since the stage was set correctly on the front-end, closing awkwardness is avoided to each party’s satisfaction.

#1—Closing at the END of the interview
At the end of the interview, the hiring manager will usually ask the candidate if they have any final questions. At this point, have your candidate say, “Well, let’s say that you offer me the position and I accept. What can I do when I start here to relieve your immediate workload?”

This close is assumptive (“What can I do when I start here…”); it focuses on how the candidate can help the company (“…to relieve your immediate workload…”); and it considers personally helping the hiring manager (“…to relieve YOUR immediate…”).

This close works so well on so many levels. The hiring manager is now thinking, “I haven’t even hired this candidate yet, and they’re already starting to solve my problems.” It makes an impact.

I remember one candidate I worked with who used this second close during his interview. I’ll call him “Dan.” After the interview, Dan called me and thanked me for giving him this close. He said that during his individual interviews with the top four people in the company, he used the closing question on each person. He said that each stopped to ponder his question before answering. He felt that they knew it was a serious question and were not going to belittle it with a “pat answer.”

Instead, they thought about it and then told Dan, from their perspectives, what was most important. Dan said that by gleaning the answers from each of the major decision makers in the company, he now knew how to satisfy each. He was made the offer, accepted, and has had a successful career with the company.

Another interesting dynamic has occurred with this second close. When debriefing the hiring managers after the interviews, we’ve heard sentiments such as the following: “After years and years of interviewing, this was the first time that a candidate ever asked me how they could help me and my company. The candidates always ask what I can do for them—how much I’m going to pay them, how many vacation days are given per year, what are the benefits, etc. But this candidate actually asked me what he could do for me personally. I’m impressed.”

Even in situations where the match wasn’t there, hiring managers have been so impressed with this candidate close that they have recommended other companies for the recruiter to call on the candidate’s behalf. It just purely works.

By Bob Marshall on May 20, 2015 in Recruiter Training