The Best Ways to Ask for a Job

Getty Images

What’s the best way to close out a job interview? By asking for the job.

If that makes you wince, don’t worry: you don’t need to get aggressive. In fact, you shouldn’t. Job interviews are in part a sales pitch, but you’re not trying to sell the interviewer a used car. In fact, unless the job is in sales or finance, and the company has a very high-octane atmosphere, you probably shouldn’t come right out and ask, “Do I have the job?” A little subtlety goes a long way.

The good news is that it’s absolutely possible to ask for the job in a way that makes both you and the interviewer feel good about the conversation—good enough to help you seal the deal and get the job offer. (Or at least, find out if you’ve got a good shot.)

Asking for a Job: Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

Express enthusiasm. What impressed you most during the interview—the corporate culture, the company mission, the way teams work together to get things done? Now’s the time to mention it. The interviewer will likely be moved by your enthusiasm. Certainly, it will show that you’re a good fit. (Note: be honest. Don’t feign excitement about elements of the job that don’t appeal to you. Most people are bad liars … but really good at telling when someone else is being dishonest.)

Sample script: “I’m so excited about the company’s plans for XYZ project, and I’d love to be a part of it. Do you need any more information about my skills regarding …?”

Offer more information. Your closing question is a good time to ask if the interviewer needs to know anything else about you. This is one last opportunity to show that your skills make you a good fit for the organization. (But not your real last opportunity. That’s the thank-you note, which can double as a final selling tool to get the offer.)

Sample script: “What else do you need to know about me, in order to know that I’m a good fit and offer me the job?”

Ask about next steps. Job interview processes are similar at most companies, but not the same. One organization might take a month to get back to a prospective hire, while another will be on the phone to a promising candidate that same afternoon. Without asking this question, you won’t know whether to anticipate more interviews, what additional materials you might need to send in order to showcase your abilities … and most importantly when to expect that all-important next call.

Sample script: “I really loved hearing about the company’s mission and goals for the coming year, and I feel that my skills and experience would make me an excellent fit. Can you tell me about the next steps in the interview process?”

Thank your interviewer for their time. Regardless of which approach you use, a little gratitude goes a long way. So, don’t forget to say thank you at the end of the interview. (And send a thank-you note to follow up!)

Sample script: “Thank you so much for talking with me today. I’m really excited about the company and its plans. Is there anything else I can tell you…?” 

Don’t:

Come on too strong. Again, there are environments where an aggressive, “Do I have the job?” will work. But in most non-sales positions, putting the hiring manager on the spot is not the way to get an offer. You want to persuade them that you’re the best candidate, not insist on getting the job. Entitlement is not a good look, especially when you’re trying to land a job.

Ask for more than you offer. You want a lot from the hiring manager—details about the process, guidance about how to make your case, and ultimately, a job offer. To keep things on an even footing, you should offer as much as you’re asking for. Volunteer more information about your skills. Offer references and recommendations. Keep the interaction a two-way street.

Press for confirmation, after you’re rebuffed. When I was a manager, I often had candidates close the interview by asking for the job.

While I could offer next steps and more information about the process, I couldn’t make an offer on the spot. The way my department was structured, all hires had to be agreed upon by the team.

So, it would have been the opposite of persuasive if a candidate had pushed me for a job offer once I’d demurred. In fact, I might’ve thought, “Oh boy, do I really want to work with someone who’s going to be so pushy?”—even if the interview went well up to that point.

Bottom line, it’s not necessarily bad news if the hiring manager can’t make an offer on the spot. But it could become bad news for you, if you insist.

Follow up so hard, you’re verging on stalker territory. Send a thank-you note without 24 hours of your interview, and follow up at the interval that seems appropriate, given what the interviewer has told you about the hiring process. But don’t besiege your contact with emails and calls. Hounding an employer will almost never result in a job offer. 

More About Getting HiredHow to Tell if You're Going to Get a Job Offer | What To Do If You've Blown a Job Interview