2 Essential Questions At The End Of An Interview

 In Interviews

There are two essential questions that many candidates forget to ask at the end of an interview. Your interviewer concludes with, “Thank you Mary, that’s everything I need to know at this stage. Do you have any points you’d like to raise?” In other words – do you have any questions! You will have if you are well prepared, and they will be in various categories, but there are two questions that some of my clients have often forgotten in the past – much to their subsequent chagrin.

Obviously you need to use your own turn of phrase rather than copying my words verbatim, but the essence of the first of these is:

Could you tell me about the next stage please and when I’m likely to hear from you? You need to make sure that you know exactly what is going to happen next and when they will be in touch again.

Many moons ago I was coaching a marketing manager who was chasing the next step up in his career. We prepared well for a forthcoming interview for what he thought could be an ideal role. After the interview we went through a debriefing session to see what we could learn from the experience for future interviews. He thought he’d done quite well. In fact I felt he had done very well – he’d even remembered to send a thank you note after the interview.

Two days later, a Friday, he was on the ‘phone to me saying he had not heard from them and did I think he should call them. He was obviously becoming anxious.

On Tuesday I received an e-mail from him, “I’ve still not heard – what do you think?” I asked him what they’d said when he had asked, “When am I likely to hear from you?” It transpired that he hadn’t asked them!

“Well, no harm done” said I, “Give them a call now and ask.” He didn’t because he felt embarrassed.

TIP: Never leave the next stage to chance. Ask the question.

It was eventually ten days after the interview that he plucked up the courage to call, “Oh, I’m sorry, didn’t Mr S explain, he went on holiday at the end of the interview week – he’s making his decision while he’s away and he’ll be in touch next week after he’s discussed his decision with the board.”

As it turned out he came second, but irrespective of the outcome he could have saved himself nearly two weeks of anxiety had he asked the question. Going to interviews is stressful enough for most people as it is, without piling on additional pressure by forgetting some of the fundamentals of job search.

So what’s the second question? Again use your own words.

Based on what we’ve gone through do you have any reservations about my suitability for the role? You need to bring out any reservations the interviewers may have before you leave the room while you are still there to counter them.

Let me give you a scenario. You’ve just left the interview room and one of the interviewers turns to a colleague and says, “He didn’t mention anything about his IT skills in any of his answers – do you think he could have been hiding something?” His colleague reflects for a moment and replies, “Hmm, possibly – other than that I thought he was quite good – better safe than sorry though.”

And with that exchange your candidature for this perfect role has just disappeared down the plug hole – completely.

First of all ask yourself why you didn’t mention your considerable IT skills (or whichever other brilliant transferable skill it was that you didn’t mention).

I’ll tell you why by giving you an example. It’s because we often take our transferable skills for granted. You might be one of those rare individuals who is an absolute genius at developing database applications using Access – 99% of the population think Credit Card when they hear that word whereas you automatically think Database. You’re so good at it that it’s easy, still challenging, yet enjoyable – falling off a log stuff! Because you are so good at it, it doesn’t occur to you that other people who are not so good at it, may be quite impressed if they only knew, so you simply don’t mention it.

TIP: Don’t take your transferable skills for granted. Ask the question.

As you start your job search campaign it is essential to prepare for interviews and part of that preparation is to identify, and to become totally familiar with, your transferable skills: the next stage being to weave illustrations of these skills into your answers!

In the scenario above, if you had asked the question, you may have had the response, “An interesting question John,” he’s buying some thinking time, “What about your IT skills, we haven’t heard anything about your abilities with Access Databases and Excel Spreadsheets.”

The potential objection is out in the open giving you ample chance to expand and to counter with a couple of strong achievements that illustrate your prowess in this area.

So now when you leave the interview room, one of the interviewers turns to his colleague and says, “I’m glad he covered his IT skills at the end – I think we may have found the person we looking for – what do you think?” His colleague reflects for a moment and replies, “Hmmm, I think you’re right!”

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