“Do you have any questions for us?” - Typically, the last question during a job interview!
Updated: Apr 25
Generally, this is the last question the interview Board asks the candidates during a job interview. After having been on the receiving end of replying to the various questions posed by the Board, it is now the candidate’s opportunity to be on the centre stage. The camera is now shifted on to us and is the last and perhaps the only chance to ensure that we present to the Board that we are a serious contender for the job and the right choice to be appointed for the position.
Resume and Interview
The job interview, whether done in person on the web, is the crucial part of the decision making by the organization before recruiting a candidate. The interview is very often preceded by submission of the resume.
Resume or CV? This is a dilemma faced by many while applying for a position. Is there a difference between a resume and a CV?
There is a big difference. A CV or Curriculum Vitae is a Latin word which means “the course of my life”. So typically, a CV is a very lengthy narration of your life events and generally does not have any limitations on the number of pages. This means that you can end up writing your autobiography for a job!!
As anyone would understand, would the HR Director read through the voluminous details of your CV? It is a clear and emphatic NO.
That is where the resume comes in. The word “resume`” is a French word which means a summary. That is exactly what is needed by the HR Director. A brief two-page summary of what you are, and your achievements.
We should typically give credible and provable achievements in our academic or career life. Instead of listing out the various subjects you studied for you academic award, list out the outcomes or the achievements. Similarly list out your achievements and contributions that benefitted the organization in your previous jobs. No one is interested which primary school you went or details of every summer internship you had typically for a week!
Every HR Personnel knows that most candidate try to exaggerate and multiply the level of their skills and achievements. Every person is “goal oriented” “strategic thinkers” “team players” “highly energetic”……the list goes on. The HR managers know that the real person behind this resume is a midget compared to the giant which is portrayed on the paper!
The job of the resume is only to get you to the interview stage. Out of the hundreds of applications which the HR department typically receive our application should catch the attention of the recruiting team to ensure that we are slotted for the interview. Hence it is important that our resume is brief to the point and lists out the major milestones and achievements in our career and education. That is the primary purpose of a resume – to ensure that we go to the next level. It is now on us to prove that we are worthy of the resume we created.
Interview: This is the time for the real candidate to stand out and to ensure that our resume matches with who we are. If we have listed out our personality as a “dynamic and enthusiastic person” it does not help to arrive at an interview wearing shabby clothes and slumped shoulders. So, beware of the words you choose while writing your resume. The interview Board will typically study the resume and ask questions around the information we have given out about ourselves.
Depending on the organization’s protocols and rules, the number of interviews might vary from just one to many. It also depends on the seniority of the position we are applying for. The Board will be assessing our personality and arrive at a conclusion about our suitability and fit for the job.
It is at this stage where the Board will give us a chance to ask questions that we may want the Board to answer. This is a crucial part of the interview process and a cliff hanger question. If we make an error at this time and ask a dumb question the entire interview could be under danger. This is a loaded question and if handled correctly it would help you to take you to the next level.
Can we pass the question and not ask any questions?
Very often the recruiters have a poor view of anyone who does not ask questions. When we do not ask questions when given an opportunity it is possible that we give out an impression of someone who is not very clever or analytical enough to ask questions to the interview Board.
“I want to know that the candidate in front of me is vested in the job interview,” says Janice Bryant Howroyd, CEO and Chairman of Torrance, California. “If the candidate does not have any questions for me, that really clouds my estimation of his or her interest and ability to engage” (quoted in the book ‘301 Questions to Ask on Your Interview’ by John Kador)
While it is a great opportunity to impress the Board by asking question or questions, we should be careful of the trap of asking the wrong questions.
What kind of questions should we be asking?
Let us first examine what kind of questions we should not be asking.
Questions about the Company: Never ask any questions about the organization since the interview panel expects us to have done our research about the Company before appearing for the interview. But if during our research if we come across any aspect of the organization which needs clarifications, then we may ask questions on that. For instance, if the research reveals that the Company is working on a new model, it would be ok to ask the Board for an update on the development and launch of the new model.
Questions about money: We should never ever use the opportunity given by the Board to ask questions about salary or benefits. Any question regarding the remuneration should be avoided throughout the interview. Unless it is prompted by the recruiter, we should never raise this question. Asking the benefits and salary typically raises an eyebrow for even the most experienced recruiter. Though the candidate and the recruiter know that salary is an important consideration for the position, it is a given norm that this is a taboo topic for discussion, unless raised by the recruiter.
Personal questions: Some candidates would think it would be smart to ask personal questions to the Board. “Can you tell me how you became a Director at such a young age?”. They think it would be flattering for the HR Director and would help in scoring some brownie points, but most managers do not appreciate such questions since it is a waste of time and does not add value to the interview.
What questions to ask:
While there can be no textbook answers for this, typically our question should reflect our analytical ability and demonstrate our skills and eagerness to join the organization and contribute to the growth of the organization. More than asking a question for the sake of asking we should focus on asking the right question. Our question should show that we are the right candidate by communicating the following impressions:
Interest: We have taken time to assess and research about the Company and the job and our questions typically show that we are looking at contributing to the growth of the company
Analytical Skills: Our question should reflect our analytical skills about the organization and the position.
Confidence: we should exhibit confidence that we know our job and the skill levels required for the job and that we have the potential for growth.
Politeness: Our questions should reflect courtesy and respect. They should be directed in a respectful manner recognizing the seniority and position of the recruiters
Ask about Career and learning opportunities: Recruiters would be delighted to answer questions about this, because this demonstrates that the candidate is looking at a long-term career with the company and is interested in learning.
Ask about the Coaching and Mentoring Program within the Company: “Do you feel that I would get the assistance of a senior manager to coach and mentor me so that I can start applying my education to the benefit of the organization? What is the structure of Coaching and Mentoring in our Company?” A question like this demonstrates the interest of the candidate to be productive from day one with the guidance of a mentor.
Ask about the goals and objectives: “If I am selected, I would like my boss to help me to identify the goals and strategic objectives of my job in relation to the goals and objectives of the department and the Company. Can you help me understand this aspect?” Again, this question shows that you are a strategic thinker and look at working in a disciplined and goal-oriented way.
Ask about the Company’s expansion plans and Strategies: If we have done sufficient research on the company, we will know the plans of the company. It will be a good time to ask questions related to this aspect. “I have read that you are venturing into AI and Robotics. While I do not have experience or qualification in this area, I am extremely interested in it. I would like to know the progress we have made in this”.
When the interview Board or the recruiter asks “If you have any questions for us”, we should never lose that opportunity. We should prepare well with the questions before hand based on the research on the company. There would also be opportunities to frame questions during the interview and analysing the way the direction the interview takes. Hence apart from our researched questions, we should also mentally prepare some questions based on the discussions during the interview.
Unfortunately, there is no choice in this part of the interview. We cannot skip or wish away this part of the interview. But it is extremely important that we ask the right questions. Not asking questions or asking the wrong questions, both have the same impact – reducing our chances for the position. Asking the right questions will increase our prospects for the position
All the best!