A final interview is usually one last opportunity to discuss your experience and skill set. Learn more about how to prepare so you're comfortable and confident.
A final interview is generally the last interview you will encounter before learning whether a company has decided to make you an offer of employment. At this stage, you’ve likely had several other types of interviews, such as with a hiring manager or about your technical skills.
When you make it to the final interview, you are usually among the top candidates. Of those remaining, you may be comparably experienced or skilled. Companies tend to use final interviews to ask any remaining questions and determine who among the finalists would be the best fit for the role, the team, and the company. That’s why it’s so important to prepare for a final interview as you would any other interviews you’ve participated in.
Let’s go over what a final interview typically entails, the questions you can expect, and how you can best prepare.
A final interview is not a guarantee that you’ll get the offer. Instead, it usually means you’re among the final two to five candidates, and the company has dedicated time to narrowing down their options.
Each company’s interview process differs. The number and kinds of interviews you participate in will typically depend on the size of the company and the role you’re applying for. For instance, an entry-level candidate may not have as many interviews to complete as a senior-level candidate.
By the final interview, you will likely meet with the hiring manager once again or with a member of a company’s leadership or executive team, such as the vice president or CEO.
When you have a final interview, a recruiter, coordinator, or company representative should tell you who it’s with and how long it will last. You should feel comfortable asking for details about the focus of your final conversation. Knowing what to expect, as much as possible, can help you prepare more specifically.
We’ve grouped the questions you may encounter in a final interview into two sections: meeting with someone new and meeting with the hiring manager. Depending on the scenario you’ll face, either section is meant to help you prepare and practice.
Learn more: 11 Interviewing Skills to Benefit Your Career
There are times when you will meet with someone new as part of your final interview. Small companies may want you to meet with their CEO, while larger companies may want you to meet with a senior department leader, such as the director of marketing.
There’s a possibility that you will be asked questions you’ve already answered during your interview process. In that case, vary your answers as much as possible. Teams will likely meet to discuss each candidate before extending an offer. While repeating your answers isn’t necessarily a problem, it can be beneficial to highlight the variety of your experience by sharing different examples, anecdotes, and answers.
When meeting with someone new during a final interview, you may be asked situational questions related to the role so your interviewer can learn more about how you would handle different hypothetical events.
When crafting your answers, it can help to use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Share stories that describe a situation, your role, the action you took, and the results you achieved.
1. What could we do to improve X?
2. What’s more important: Delivering a project on time and “good enough” or delaying a project until it’s perfect?
3. Tell me about a time when you worked with a difficult stakeholder. How did you handle them?
4. What do you think would be the biggest challenge if you got this job?
Over time, you will develop work habits to help you effectively handle your responsibilities. An interviewer may ask you about those processes. Share what’s worked for you in the past, and ask your interviewer about how the company approaches things in case there’s an opportunity to align your approach with theirs.
5. How do you prioritize competing deadlines?
6. Do you like working collaboratively or independently?
7. How do you stay motivated?
Questions about why you want the job come up often throughout the interview process. Think about what you’ve learned about the role and the company throughout the interview process, along with what impressed you, and add to the reasoning you’ve already provided.
8. What are you looking for in your next career move?
9. What interested you in working here?
10. Why did you apply for this role?
During the interview process, you will likely meet with the hiring manager. During the final interview, you may speak with them once again as they continue building on the questions they’ve already asked you.
A hiring manager may spend a portion of your final interview asking you behavioral questions to understand more about you and how you work. These questions can pertain to skills such as problem-solving, communication, organization, and the kind of team member you’d potentially be.
1. How do you stay organized?
2. How do you respond to feedback?
3. Was there ever a time when you identified a problem? How did you resolve it?
4. Tell me about a time you had to collaborate and faced communication challenges with your team?
If you haven’t already had to answer technical interview questions about the tools or software you use often, then a hiring manager may use the final interview to get that information. Discuss what you know and ask about the tools they use and how they train new employees.
5. What tools do you use to do your job?
6. What tools do you use to stay organized?
7. How do you go about learning new software?
Every employee requires different things to be successful. A hiring manager may want to know what you need and whether they’re set up to help you get it. Answer honestly to determine whether this company will be a good fit for you and not just the other way around. You can also flip these questions back around and ask the hiring manager to learn more about culture, management style, and more.
8. How do you like to be managed?
9. How do you prefer to receive feedback?
10. What type of work environment do you most enjoy? In-person or remote?
While not every final interview goes over details like salary and start date (many interview processes begin with these questions during a phone screen), you may find that the person you meet with wants to clarify these points. Do your research in advance to learn about the market rate for your role and experience and when you might be able to start with them if offered the job. Learn more about how to negotiate your salary.
1. What are your salary expectations?
2. Are you currently interviewing with any other companies?
3. When would you be able to start?
While it might seem unnecessary to prepare for a final interview because you’ve likely already answered many common interview questions, it’s imperative because a job offer is not guaranteed. Much like you would prepare for any other interview, you should conduct research and review your unique career story.
Use the tips below to help you prepare as specifically as possible:
Find out who you will be meeting with and research their background, what they do at the company, and how long they’ve been there.
Review the job posting for “required” and “recommended” skills. Reflect on how your skills align with what the company is seeking.
Practice answering questions you’ve already heard in a new way, presenting different scenarios or skills.
Prepare questions to ask at the end.
Not sure what to ask at the end of an interview? We’ve got you covered with the following tips.
Want to polish your interview skills? Learn more about interviews, such as conducting research on a company and making a positive first impression, with the University of Maryland’s Successful Interview course. Enroll today for free.
Or, if you’re looking for ways to strengthen your skill set and resume, explore Professional Certificates from industry leaders such as Google, Meta, IBM, Salesforce, and more on Coursera. In six to seven months, you can develop career-ready skills in several high-demand areas.
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