Learn these zingers to fire back at your interviewer when they ask “any questions for me?” and you’ll end the interview on a high and, hopefully, seal the deal.
It’s no secret that the key to a successful job interview is preparation. When you’re out to impress, you’d better know your info – from the company’s market to its history and even the individual interviewer’s career background.
An integral part of that preparation, but one which has caught many a candidate off guard, comes at the very end of the interview…
“And do you have any questions for us?”
Your mind races. I did have questions, you think, but we already discussed them earlier! Quick, come up with something else (that isn’t related to bonuses!) or I’ll look lacklustre.
Having a solid arsenal of questions – beyond the obvious - to fire back at your interviewer is therefore an interview-essential.
The Prelude: Notoriously Tricky Tech Questioning
Tech companies have, somewhat notoriously, raised the stakes for interview difficulty yet further. Bearing in mind that the world’s most valuable 4 tech giants are now worth a collective $432.3 billion, you can’t blame the industry for high recruiting standards. Perhaps that explains some of the unorthodox line of interview questioning thrown up which has become a staple of the sector.
A couple of infamous examples (from a list of many more!):
If you were a pizza delivery man how would you benefit from scissors? [Apple]
Suggested answer: They can cut Pizzas and double as a screwdriver.
Why is a tennis ball fuzzy? [Xerox]
Suggested answer: The fuzz slows down the ball and keeps it from bouncing.
...oh... this is odd... I'm seeing your CV for the first time, and you're completely wrong for the role. We may as well wrap up here, if that's OK with you? [A sales industry classic!]
Suggested answer: Put up a fight! This is a sly trick that provides an open opportunity for you to state your case.
These questions, whilst undeniably gimmicky, are designed to test:
Your ability to think on your feet
Your creative and lateral reasoning
Your communication skills
Your stress response
…but almost certainly not your actual ability to answer the question!
So consider carefully, respond confidently and keep your answer positive and free of waffle.
End On A High: Interviewing The Interviewer
After a stream of detailed questioning and cross-examination, it might be tempting to skip the “and any questions for me?” section entirely by replying with a flat "no, all good". Brevity is appreciated, but beware that having no questions whatsoever will make you seem apathetic. Worse still, you may even be tempted to hit back with a tricky question of your own!
That’s why preparing a batch of brilliant end-of-interview questions allows you to pick a couple of zingers to get you across the finish line. Stick to one of these tried-and-tested lines and you’ll end the interview on a high and, at absolute best, seal the deal on the spot:
1 - What’s your department aspiring to achieve in the next year?
This one's ideal for almost any situation! The interview is a two-way process, so you want assurances that the ambitions of the department you wish to join match that of your own. There’s no better indicator than a clear and concise business plan, with business goals that demonstrate seriousness in which they take these goals. Better yet, this question gives your interviewer a chance to show some of their own passion (or lack thereof!) for the business.
2 - How did you come to be involved with the company and what has it been like to work here?
For all the research you may have done pre-interview, there’s no better way in establishing the day to day reality of working within the organisation than gaining a first-hand perspective from a current employee. The hiring manager has obviously attained a level of authority and responsibility, and it may be of interest in finding out how quickly they rose through the ranks and where they began. This is a great segue question to help you understand the culture of the company!
3 - Can you describe what my first few weeks would look like?
If you’re ambitious, you’ll likely want to hit the ground running. This question is likely to lead to conversations about induction procedures, company culture – welcome drinks?! – and more specifics about workload. If the interviewer’s initial reaction is a sighed “phew, where to start?!” then you could maybe save yourself a trap.
[Note: For senior roles, you may have already encountered the opposite question to this, “Tell us what you’d do in your first weeks / months” – but there’s no harm in asking the interviewer how they see it!]
4 - What type of training and development opportunities do you offer?
Employers love hiring ‘good learners’. People who can grow their skills, tackle new challenges and adapt with the business. This question conveys clear ambition, demonstrates that you are not happy to stagnate and are looking to progress and give added value to the employer you wish to join. For smaller employers who may not have an established development programme in place, ask whether they’d support your own efforts – financially or with time off.
5 - I’m very interested in this job. Is there anything counting against my application that I can help clarify?
Short of asking if you’ve got the job outright (which, by the way, could work!) this is a serious ‘closer’ of a question. Opening with a clear statement of interest that’ll round the interview off on a major positive, you’re then giving the interviewer an open chance to highlight any failings that you can address there and then. This question give you a hugely-valuable chance to hit back (respectfully) at anything that could cost you the job.
Bonus - here’s how you follow the last one up…
“I understand your concern – it’s a risk hiring someone with only 6 months’ product management experience. But I’d argue that I’ve proven my capability by far exceeding targets, and the online qualification I’ve completed gives me great background knowledge. You’re right that I need an opportunity to prove my real-world credentials, but I hope that I can do that for your brand.”
Just let them try turning you down for the role after all that!