We’ve all been there. You’re reaching the end of your interview, you’ve artfully guided them through your CV, you’ve articulately answered the competencies, reassured their every concern, and confidently – yet modestly – demonstrated your fantastic skill set and shining personality.
You start to relax as you sense you’re on the home straight. The interviewer leans in and says “So, I don’t think there’s anything else I need to ask, but do you have any questions for me?”
“No,” you confidently reply, “I think I’m good.”
Don’t be fooled! The interview hasn’t finished yet. The ‘do you have any questions’ question is an integral part of an interview – and it’s vital that you are prepared for it.
Why is it so important?
Every interview should be equally weighted between interviewer and interviewee – you should be exploring whether theirs is a company you would like to work for just as much as they are investigating whether you are a right fit for their team. Asking questions gives you the opportunity to really suss them out, explore the role further and form an educated opinion on the dynamics of the team, the company as a whole and opportunities for you within it.
Equally, the questions you ask give the interviewer real insight in where your interests lie and how you’ve prepared for your meeting. Asking intelligent and insightful questions demonstrates keen interest on your part and can only stand you in good stead and leave a powerfully positive last impression in the interviewer’s mind.
This isn’t the time to bring up the contractual details.
By contractual details, I mean things like salary, holiday allowance, benefits and bonuses, etc.
If you have got your interview through a recruitment agency, then that is a question for your consultant. If you’ve applied directly to the company, ask these questions to HR separately.
Ending the interview with questions about the contract doesn’t leave a positive impression in the mind of your interviewer – an interview is a chance to sell yourself, and you don’t want them to think that they only reason you’re interested in their job is for the holiday allowance!
Create a Dialogue.
You DON’T have to save all your questions until the end! It’s completely normal to feel a little anxious before an interview, but it’s always going to feel more nerve-wracking if it becomes an interrogation. Pepper your interview with questions back to the interviewer and you’ll create a dialogue which will naturally relax you: it will quickly become a conversation rather than an examination.
One of the most organic ways to do this is to use the questions your interviewer is asking you as a springboard for your own (making sure you’re answering them of course!) For example:
Interviewer: “I can see from your CV that you have worked automously on some impressive projects. How do you feel about also working collaboratively within a team?”
You: (insert your beautifully prepared answer about how you’re a great team player but you are also self-motivated and can be trusted to work alone)
Then spring board into your question:
You: “I’m really pleased that you asked me about team working as I think it’s such an important aspect to a working environment. I’d love to know a little more about the team at the moment, what are they like/what is the structure/what are their backgrounds?”
Artfully done, this can be an incredibly effective way for you to maintain a dialogue, and demonstrate your keen interest in the company. The more conversational your interview is, the more relaxed you’ll feel and chances are, the stronger a connection you’ll have with an interviewer as they’ll be able to see much more of your personality.
Prepare your questions!
Of course, it’s great to have all your questions held in your head, but it is absolutely fine to have them written down! In the heat of an interview, it is really easy to forget what you wanted to ask about and for all of that carefully planned preparation to go out of the window. It also shows how much you want the job, and speaks volumes as to the level of your preparation.
Do your company research!
It’s great to be able to demonstrate that you have taken the the time to look through a company’s website and social media pages and then forge a question from it. For example – “I was looking through your instagram account and noticed that you had a charitable company away day painting a school – that’s amazing! Are you involved in lots of social conscience projects?”
Or: “I read on your website that you won an award for being the fastest growing tech company in 2017, that must have been such an exciting year! What are your plans for growth in 2018?”
Use industry knowledge if you can.
If you know it, demonstrate it! Have a read of a couple of articles from legitimate sources about the industry more broadly and if appropriate, subtly drop that in (make sure you fully understand it though, they are the experts in that field after all.)
For example, your interviewer tells you that they grew by 54% last year, so a great follow-on questions would be: “Wow that’s really impressive, I was only reading an article the other day in Business Insider that said boutique finance firms had a really tough year of it last year. What do you think your doing so differently that has made you so successful?”
Really think about what your interests are.
Are you really keen on that charity work they do? Do you find the specifics of the roles fascinating? Passionate about learning and internal development? Ask!
You will naturally come across as more animated if you are asking about something you actually care about
Think about what you want to demonstrate with your question.
The perfect question will demonstrate all of the above – your company research, industry knowledge and own interests. It is really tricky to balance all of these and still keep it concise so don’t worry if you only have one triple-threat question prepared.
For example: “I notice that you have three women on your board of directors which is absolutely fantastic – I was reading only the other day that the Financial industry average for women in senior management is much lower than that so as an ambitious young woman myself, that fills me with much hope! What is it that you are doing to support and develop women into these leadership positions?”
You will notice that there is a little bit of shameless flattery in all of the example questions above. People love to talk about the place they are proud to work at, so give them a chance to sing its praises! By keeping it positive and pointing out all the brilliant things about the company, you will allow the interviewer feel positive too (which is exactly the feeling you want them to be left with when you walk out of that door!)
If you do create a dialogue and ask your questions throughout your interview, it’s easy to feel like you’re left with nothing for the ‘do you have any questions’ question at the end. Try to hold a particularly impressive question back to leave a cracking last impression – however, even if you’ve asked them all, there is always something to ask.
Ask about your prospective employer’s background, ask what they think the challenges of the role would be, ask what the think the ideal person will be like to fit in both the team and the role. There will always still be at least one intelligent question to ask.
Don’t worry about repeating questions from previous interviews (or answers).
Interviews are most often multiple staged, and with different people each time. Try to prepare some different questions, depending on who you’re interviewing with but there is absolutely not shame in repeating a question if you run out. Frame it nicely and it’ll be fine.
For example, “When I interviewed with Sandra last week I asked her about the company culture and she was absolutely glowing but I’d love to get your stance.”
Ultimately, the key to navigating the end of an interview is to make sure that you are prepared and anticipating asking a final question. You have a wonderful chance to leave a positive impression at the end of your interview: and with so many other candidates focusing exclusively on making great first impression, this will put you way ahead of the curve. Just relax, be yourself and don’t worry: you’ll be amazing!
About The Author
After graduating with a Masters in English Literature from Nottingham in 2014, Ellie spent two years gaining valuable experience working within administration in London.
In January 2017 Ellie joined Sidekicks, where she applied her unwavering commitment to quality to the recruitment sector, with remarkable results. Ellie’s unique understanding of her market, coupled with her enthusiastic and proactive approach, means that Ellie is genuinely passionate about representing her candidates to the highest possible standard.
Contact Ellie: firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7292 8743