There are many tricks to a strong interview, but the one most frequently overlooked and underutilized is the final question. This is rarely the question an interviewer asks you. Instead, it’s the question you ask the interviewer. Unfortunately, in many cases, prospects make the classic interview mistake of missing this opportunity to make a strong, lasting impression.
Here’s how many interviews end. The hiring manager’s last question is:
“Do you have any questions for us?”
An all too common reply is: “No, you answered everything. Thank you for your time.”
Here’s why: You just shut down the conversation. The only thing left is a handshake. Instead, if you could have used the opportunity to to learn more about your fit with the company and better position yourself to be the candidate of choice.
Great post-interview questions can serve many purposes. They allow you to:
Show Your Research. Businesses like people who are interested enough to know something about their industry or marketplace. You can start a question by making a statement such as: “I saw online that your company is looking to expand into ….. Do you see this position being involved in any way, and if so how?”
Show Interest. Interviewers want to know that you understand the challenges ahead and are able to meet them. One way to use the last question is to dispel any questions about your fit. This could start with repeating something mentioned in the interview. “We discussed XYZ earlier, could you expand on that problem a bit and let me know what skills you feel are most important to meet that challenge?” Then, when they list the skills wanted, you have another follow-up opportunity to let them know you have those very strengths!
Gain Insight. You don’t want to accept a position that is doomed for failure. You can ask a question that gives you insight into potential success. Here’s how: “What do you think are the most important things to accomplish in the first 30 days of the job?,” or “A year from now, what would have happened for you to feel that the new person in this job was very successful in accomplishing your most pressing challenges?”
Display Expertise and Exude Enthusiasm. Similar to other questions, this type of ending lets you make a statement before asking a question. “I’m very excited about the job as presented, particularly because of what you said earlier about … I faced a similar challenge when…. and approached the situation with a collaborative management style. Do you feel that type of style would be effective here, or would you prefer a different approach?”
The ending interview questions — the ones you ask the interviewer instead of vice versa — allow you to leave a strong lasting impression. Have more than one question in your quiver and never wing it. You should go into every interview with at least 3-5 questions that can be mixed or matched as needed. Just because you have a list doesn’t mean you need to ask them all, but it gives you flexibility to decide which question is most appropriate given the tone of the interview to that point. For instance, if one of your questions was completely answered in the interview, your list of backup questions can easily be put to good use.For ideas on end-of-interview questions, check out How to Make a Lasting Impression at Job Interviews Using Questions.
Experts note that last impressions are important due to something called the recency effect, where people remember what happened last over any earlier impressions. As fellow AOL Blogger Jeff Lipschultz, wrote on recruiter.com:
” In a long discussion, what you say last can be remembered even more than what you said or did at the beginning.”
That’s the reason why you should never end an interview with questions about the structure of the job, e.g. benefits, salary, vacation, hours. These can all be discussed after an offer has been extended. Any discussion of job structure at this point implies that you’re not focused on the important aspects of the job from the employer’s point of view. Structure questions generally leave a very bad last impression.
Still stuck on what to ask at the end of the interview? Channel your inner journalist and craft questions using the famous 5Ws — Who, What, Where, When and Why.
- Who do you consider a perfect candidate? (OK it should be whom, but don’t get hung up)
- What are the key traits you feel a candidate needs to be successful in this job?
- I”m curious why, when we were discussing ….. you said …. Can you expand on that?
- I notice that the job is listed as …. with x% of travel. Where will the job be based?
Questions are an important part of “the art of conversation.” It’s one way to leave the interview with a strong lasting impression. Remember your job is not to “end” the interview, but to “extend” it. The last softball pitch in an interview – “do you have any questions for us?” is your chance to take one more swing at bat. It’s an important swing, because it can lead to a game-winning home run. Don’t squander the chance.