It’s hard to say that any part of an interview is more important than another because a lot rides on everything from how you’re dressed to how you answer questions to whether or not you show up on time or two minutes late. A part of the interview process a lot of people tend to forget is the portion at the end where the interviewer asks the candidate if they have any questions. The opportunity shouldn’t be overlooked because it’s a chance to find out more about the role and give you one last shot at impressing the person you’re meeting.
If you do a quick Google search of questions to ask at the end of a job interview, you’ll find lists with dozens of questions. While it’s great to have a lot of options to pick from, the reality is that you don’t have an endless amount of time at the end of an interview to check off every question on some of these lists. Instead, you should prioritize what you’re asking to get the most out of the opportunity. You can safely assume you’ll have enough time to ask around three questions, so you need to make them count.
Depending on the job you’re interviewing for and how much information you’ve been given on the role, you may need to customize your questions to prioritize getting the details necessary to decide if it’s a good fit. However, if you feel like you're well informed on the role and you’re not sure what to ask, here are three strategic questions to ask at the end of an interview that will help you look like an even stronger candidate than you already are.
How Does This Role Contribute to the Company’s Short and Long-Term Goals?
At some point during the interview process, the interviewer likely told you all about the role and your responsibilities in it. They probably also talked a bit about the company’s overall long and short-term goals. Often, though, it’s not clear exactly how the two come together. The end of the interview is your opportunity to find out.
Ask the interviewer how this position fits into different aspects of the company’s vision, or, if you’d instead, zoom in a bit more and ask how this role fits into the department’s or team’s goals. This question will usually open up a conversation that will help you learn why this role is essential to the organization (and, who knows, you may find that it’s so essential that you can even bump up your salary requirement).
Is There Anything I Can Clear Up for You?
The whole point of an interview is for the person interviewing you to find out if you meet their needs, so they’re going to be asking you a lot of questions. Still, they’re human, and they might get the wrong impression from one of your answers, and if they don’t push the topic to learn more or get clarification, they could use this misinterpretation as a reason to take you out of the running. You certainly don’t want this; honestly, if they want the best person for the job, they don’t want this to happen either.
To avoid this situation, ask them something like: If there is anything I’ve said today that has you questioning if I’m a good fit, how can I clear that up for you? By asking this, you’re opening the door for them to revisit something that didn’t sit right with them or giving them the OK to ask for more information on something they may have been hesitant to address earlier in the interview. Simply asking this question, you might find your way back from being eliminated from the process to being a top candidate.
What is Your Timeline and What are the Next Steps?
Nothing fancy about this question, but it will help manage expectations on both sides. As a candidate, there is nothing worse than staring at your inbox while waiting for a status update that you have no idea when to expect. As a recruiter, it’s incredibly frustrating to have an eager candidate checking in every few days (even the most understanding recruiter will still feel overwhelmed by this). Similarly, if you’re a candidate in the interview process for multiple jobs, it’s hard to accept or turn down offers when you don’t know where you stand with each role you’re interviewing.
You can minimize this unknown by asking your interviewer what the next steps in the process look like and or when they plan to have their new hire in place. It will give you an idea of when it’s appropriate to check in for status updates and help you navigate multiple interview processes (and, ideally, multiple job offers). This question might not seem like much, but it will help put your mind at ease and create a soft deadline for your interviewer.
Make Your Interview Count
Remember, the best thing you can do for yourself is to prepare a list of several questions before your interview and rank them in order of priority so that when the end of the meeting comes, you can ask your most pressing questions before you run out of time. While these three questions are excellent, make sure you create and prioritize questions that meet your individual needs and will give you the information you need to decide if this opportunity is the right one for you.
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