If you’ve just been invited for a final round interview for a great job in tech or sales—congrats! You’ve clearly done a lot of hard work to get this far, and the hiring team believes you’d be a fit for the role.
The final round interview, however, means you could be up against some stiff competition. Solid preparation, including understanding what to expect when you go in for this round, is therefore extremely important.
There’s no formula for final round interviews, particularly if you’re targeting startups, which may have incredibly varied hiring processes. On the one hand, companies may use the final round as a cultural fit interview and chance to get to know potential colleagues, whereas other hiring teams may keep the most difficult technical tasks until the last stage.
This can make it challenging to know what to expect, so don’t be afraid to ask. From the company’s perspective, it’s in their best interest to help you perform well (and for them to make an offer)—and this is even more the case if your point of contact is a recruiter, whose performance will often be gauged by successful hires.
Regardless of who’s facilitating your interview process, if they haven’t given you a good sense of what to expect, simply ask them how your time will be spent during the interview, whether there will be a technical challenge, who you’ll be meeting with, etc.
Related: Interviewing with the CTO? 3 Strategies to Help Prepare
It can be easy to get over-confident when you reach the final round, but you should expect that the company is performing the same interview for a few other candidates who are likely just as qualified for the role.
It’s therefore important to strike the right balance between confidence and humility—confidence in your ability to be great in the role, and modesty to avoid sounding like you’re showing off.
That said, don’t be afraid to emphasize your accomplishments—particularly those which build your case for future success at the company.
Even if they’re on your CV and you’ve mentioned them in the past, you may have new interviewers, and even those you’ve already spoken with may have forgotten your qualifications after interviewing dozens of candidates.
On the flip side, it’s important to show self-awareness about where you have room to improve. While you may outshine other candidates with some skills or experiences, chances are they’ll beat you on others. Being able to identify which of those gaps you’re hoping to fill with this new experience demonstrates maturity and commitment to personal growth.
The goal is not to use the final round to make apologies. Instead, think about instances where your previous interviews with the company could have been stronger. Then, reposition those weaknesses if and when they come up.
Did you forget to mention a relevant experience (and decided to let it go)? If so, this round is your opportunity to incorporate it.
If you stumbled over a question in a past interview, remember what it was and why you struggled with it. Practice it relentlessly before going in again. In many cases, companies use the final round, partly to poke at your weak points, so covering those bases is an important part of your preparation.
There’s a good chance the team will evaluate the questions you ask too. Be sure to research the company more than you have so far to prepare. Perhaps the company or one of the executives has a new interview or mention since you spoke last. Check it out and inform yourself.
Think of anything else you want to know and organize your thoughts and questions. Prioritize them in case there’s very little time at the end of the meeting. If you run out of time, ask if you can submit some additional questions in a follow-up email.
In the final round, your interviewers are likely to be strongly considering how it would be to work with you. So, while your skills and qualifications are important, the decision may come down to personality fit. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine. These are the people you’ll presumably spend every weekday with so share a laugh if the time is right!
Even if it’s not explicitly a cultural fit interview, it’s still important to develop a connection with your interviewer. Be sure to put effort into the nonverbal communication (body language, facial expressions, etc.) as well as the answers you give. Practice in front of a mirror or have a friend record you. You may be unaware of habits holding you back.
During the final round, hiring managers are looking to confirm you want to join their company. Bring your energy to the table and maintain curiosity.
Asking thoughtful questions is a great way to demonstrate your engagement. Think about the day-to-day of this role. What do you need to know to get a complete sense of work life at this company? Answers will provide valuable insights into your decision-making process too.
Importantly, your final interview is also your last chance to interview the company. Use it to determine whether the role would be a good fit for your personality and skills.
If you’ve noticed any red flags in earlier interviews, this is your opportunity to test for those potential weaknesses. Also, evaluate whether the team is one you’d enjoy working with.
Continue preparing and check out the top questions you should be ready to answer in a final round interview.
Revised Jun. 7, 2023