The other day I was talking with a colleague. She had been interviewing recently, knowing my work, she shared with me the applicant’s question near the end of their interview. We all know that you need to have a question, or two, ready for when at the end of the interview they ask, “Do you have any questions?” She was not only surprised by the question but also that two applicants had asked the same question in the same day. The question didn’t sit well with me and I do a lot of career coaching and preparing applicants for interview. She recalled that she responded positively to the question. The interesting thing is that after our discussion, she agreed that the only way anyone could have responded would have been in a positive manner. So was it a good question? Do you want to know the question?
The question didn’t sit well with me. I provide career support and guidance, critique people’s resumes and application documents and prepare them for interview. Interview preparation involves 2 hours of intensive interview questions, crafting clear and concise answers, defining strengths and challenges, ensuring each applicant presents themselves in the strongest light. If I don’t like what I hear, I will have them start again, re-phrase, use a different tone, and possibly choose a different story to share.
At the end of the interview when the panel ask, “Is there anything that you would like to know?” or “Do you have any questions?”, you need to be ready as they are expecting you to ask at least one question, sometimes they will give you time for two. Not having a question to ask may give the impression that you haven’t researched the organization, or role, well or given enough thought to what you don’t know, or should know, in order to help you decide if you actually want the job. The questions shouldn’t be too intense either or make the panel work too hard, as they may have several other interviews, either before or after yours.
Back to the question that was asked. It was;
“Is there anything in my application documents or in my interview that might prevent me from securing this role?”
I’ve come across a fair few questions in the years that I’ve been preparing people for interviews and on interview panels, but I have never come across that question.
You might think, well, that’s a fair question to ask. We say in schools that we are all about feedback and that’s exactly what this question is about. After an interview, so often the feedback doesn’t arrive. But is it appropriate to ask for feedback in the middle of the process? Additionally, how likely is the interview panel to give anything other than a positive, politically correct, superficial response, filled with pleasantries and possibilities.
Realistically, the panel can’t give you anything but that and here’s why.
- They may not have seen all the candidates and therefore cannot evaluate your level of success yet.
- They may not have been in contact with your referees to substantiate your claims and experience.
- If they told you something that was a negative and you ended up getting the job, you would never forget what they said and be constantly working towards improving that aspect, or worse, hold a grudge.
- Most people are not good with conflict. 55% of the population are uncomfortable having challenging conversations because they don’t want to damage the relationship and that means, there is a high chance that your panel members fall into this group.
- Half the population cannot evaluate on the spot. They need time to process their answer. If you want an answer immediately, you will only get a superficial, overview response that really isn’t quality feedback at all.
- A good interview panel should make every candidate feel comfortable and at ease, so they can present themselves confidently and calmly. This question will quickly break any good rapport that may have developed, because it is putting the interview panel on the spot, demanding an indication of success level immediately.
- Finally, and this is a big one, the candidate is presenting with a ‘me-me’ attitude and not considering cultural fit for them and the organization, or the behavioural dynamics across the team to which they may eventually join.
I asked my colleague whether either of the candidates, who asked this question, ended up getting the job.
The answer was no.
Why, because they felt they didn’t fit the team!
It wasn’t about their application or their qualifications. The panel sensed there was an urgency to them, a directness, or perhaps a focus on self when they really were looking for a contributor, a team player and someone who would join them on the journey.
And from where do you think they got that impression ….. from the question that was asked at the end of the interview.
The interview is not over until you have left the building, or in the case of schools, the school gates; so I encourage you to give some thought to what you ask at the end of your next interview. It often cements their impression of you.
If I can help you with your next interview, please reach out to me at https://coachingfocus.com.au