Quick story and my takeaway. I promise it's related to the topic of when you interview even though its a story about me conducting an interview.
Last week we were going through the college job fair / interviews cycle, so I just finished conducting 16 interviews over a 2 day period. In one interview, I had something happen that has never happened to me before and it took me completely by surprise.
Talking with one lady - her technical skills were pretty good, but her demeanor and presentation were very timid....VERY timid. Out of politness, I tried to stay engaged with her, keep smiling and keep a back and forth discussion going. I hope I succeeded, but she was coming across as a very third tier candidate. I ended the interview with my regular - Do you have any questions for me? And then it happened, "Can you tell me why you can't hire me right now?"
Wait a minute. that's a close. Ok, her delivery needs refocus to the positive, but it's the equivilent of "I'd like to get an offer and here's why you should give me one." I was completely floored by it. Before, this lady was probably around 12th on the list, firmly in in the third tier. Just by asking the question, even poorly, she went to the top of the second tier, somwhere around 5th-6th.
BTW, did you spot her mistake (other than not using MT phrasing)? She focused on the negative and asked me to tell her what was wrong with her interview. It's much better to say "Here's the positives that I bring to you and because of these, you should give me an offer." Ok, she probably still won't get the job, but it's a barely doesn't get the job now instead of absolutely not.
Until you've had this happen to you, you have no idea of the impact closing makes. And once someone does close to you, you'll never NOT close an interview again.