"Do you have any questions for me?"
This is a very typical way for an interviewer to wind down a conversation. It gives the illusion of a level playing field, with each side having a turn to query the other. The employer well knows the questions for which you really want to know answers, but you lose a precious opportunity if you ask any of these:
- Do you love me yet questions: How did I do on this interview? Will I be invited back for another round of interviews?
- Process questions: What happens next? When do you expect to make a decision?
- What's in it for me questions: When would you like me to start? How much will you pay me? What benefits will you offer me? How much vacation time will I get? Can I still take a pre-planned vacation scheduled for one week after I start work?
Of course you will ultimately need the answers to these questions, but now is not the time to ask. Any information about what the company can/will do for you is not relevant until after the hiring managers have decided that you are the best match for the job.
Moreover, taking precious face-to-face interview time to talk about these things means that you aren't using that time to seal the deal, asking questions that demonstrate your interest in contributing to the company's success and highlighting some of your skills or other qualifications that haven't yet been touched upon.
There are, of course, many appropriate questions for you to ask:
- Earlier in this conversation we discussed X. Would my experience doing [fill in the blank] at [fill in company name] be a strength that you would want to draw on for the department/organization?
- What are the most pressing problems that make hiring someone for this position so important right now? When you get the answer, you then have an opportunity to mention things you've done that demonstrate your ability to fill that need.
My all-time favorite closing question is this: "Let's flash forward and assume that I've been working for you for a year. Imagine that you have just given me a stellar performance review. What are the things I will have done during the next year to earn such great praise from you?"
The beauty of this question is multi fold. First, it helps the interviewer to visualize you being both hired and successful. That perception is crystallized when he begins his response, "I think that you will have done….".
On another level, regardless of what has been said up to this point, the answer will parse out the basic job requirements from the things that a stellar performer will accomplish. With this knowledge, you can then circle back with a story, past accomplishment, or something else that demonstrates your ability to be that top-performing employee. And here's the icing on the cake: when you get the job, you'll know exactly what you need to accomplish to be the most valued member of your team.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.