Q: I’m always asked at the end of the interview if I have a question for them. I can never think of what to say. I’m generally dying to make my escape. Any suggestions? (EK, email).
A: Wishing it were all over is not an uncommon feeling for candidates. However, you really should look on those final few minutes as one more opportunity to persuade the interview panel of your suitability for the role, because that’s what they are, writes Deirdre May, Career Coach, Limerick, Sli Nua Careers.
Here are four useful questions you can ask at the end:
- “I understand the goals you want me to achieve in the job, but, in your experience, on a day to day basis, what am I likely to be doing?” Here, you are showing a desire to get down to brass tacks, and, as a question, it invites the panel to talk in a knowledgeable or enthusiastic way about the job, and that’s generally a good thing in an interview. Remember, an interview is a two-way, not one-way, conversation.
- “Can you list out a few things a previous person filling this role did really well?” This demonstrates that you are prepared to learn from those who went before, and that you are trying to project yourself into the job.
- “Is there anything in my professional experience, education or training that gives you reason to think I might not be a suitable candidate?” This is a mature question. If they bring up a deficit in skills or training, you might be able to address it – it might only be a perceived deficit, in which case you can put them right straightaway.
It might be a more nuanced worry they have, but, again, you get an opportunity to deal with it. You’re as well off hearing their misgivings or concerns now, if there are any, so that you can make a case for yourself, because, in all likelihood, they will discuss it among themselves when you’re gone.
You might undertake to fill some deficit by completing a course. If they have no concerns, happy days. If they have major concerns, you weren’t going to get the job anyway.
- “Where do you see the company making ground against your main competitors?” You’re showing real interest. You’re figuring out the lie of the land. You’re moving from interview to first day in the job. This question will get them talking. I can’t over-emphasise the value of making the interview real, taking it away from the high-level, aspirational content that can characterise some interviews.
Sometimes you don’t have a question. If you’re already working in the company, for example, there might be little left to explore by the end of the interview.
In this case, politely decline the offer to ask a question and remind them one more time that you really want the job, that you believe you have the skills and experience to be a very successful person in the role, wish them well and go through the final wrapping-up stage.
Then you can make your exit. Try not to sprint: it won’t look great and you might slip. Best of luck.