Interview Insight: Perfecting Your Closing Questions
By Sbeyde Herrera on 1/19/2024
While first impressions can open a path for career opportunities, the potential to leave a lasting impression at the end of an interview is often underestimated. Many interviewees commonly make the crucial mistake of not asking valuable questions at the end of an interview, according to Google recruiter Maggie Graupera and Strong Liang, Engineering Director at Affirm. Job candidates overlook the significance of asking thoughtful and strategic questions. Thoughtful questions increase your likelihood of securing the job, whereas no questions signal a lack of interest. What sort of questions do hiring managers look for?
Making an impression with valuable questions
The last part of the interview process will typically involve the interviewer asking if you have any questions for them. While you may have been well prepared for the technical and experience-based questions, what do you do when the floor is turned over to you? A valuable question focuses on your interest in the job. Maggie advises candidates to have a few unique questions prepared that not only gather information about a job but also show your attentiveness to the company. It’s important to note that some interviewers will write down your questions to later share, so it’s ideal for a candidate to ask different questions for each interviewer. A thoughtful question could ask about their current projects; for example, “How will AI affect Tesla’s self-driving cars?” or “How will the use of cryptocurrency affect banking?” In other words, figure out what the company is currently working on and build your questions based on that information. By asking specific questions, you show the employer that you’ve done your research.
Another form of question you could ask is, “What are the most challenging aspects of this role?” or “What technology or tools does the company/team use for collaboration and projects?” These questions not only demonstrate your interest in the position but also demonstrate how you envision yourself as a valuable asset to the team in the future. AI, such as chatGPT, is also another method of assistance when creating a list of closing questions relevant to the position and company you applied to. The e-book, “The Software Engineering Manager Interview Guide” by Vidal Graupera is another great resource. It highlights the importance of quality in the kinds of questions you ask and provides generic examples.
Be communicative and check your blind spots
Similarly, during the technical skills interview, candidates are sometimes hesitant to ask questions about the problems they are given. Candidates may believe the problems are obvious and straightforward, so they jump into solving them; however, hiring managers will look for candidates to ask questions. Thoughtful questions shos how your mind is working to gather pieces of information to solve the problem and will clear up assumptions. These kinds of clarifying questions help the company reflect on your work process and whether you think collaboratively. In other words, most jobs require the ability to communicate and work well with others, and how you work with your interviewer reflects that. Think of being communicative throughout the whole technical interview. Maggie says, “It’s like taking your driver's license test; during your driving exam you drive in a way you normally wouldn’t, but you're consciously aware of making it apparent that you are doing all the steps, like checking your blind spots. Likewise, you ask questions during the problem-solving process and don’t just drive off.”
Understanding the role
Additionally, Engineer Director Strong suggests asking questions about the role. Understanding the role you are applying to is crucial to finding success. Strong mentions, “More often than not, job descriptions for entry roles can be slightly vague. However, asking the right questions will resolve any confusion or missing information.” Use the opportunity to ask open-ended questions that focus on the company’s values and resist asking about benefits, salary, etc. unless directly talking with the recruiter. Instead, try directing your attention towards the company’s values, such as, “How do you see yourself as different from a company like Tesla?” It’s also best to avoid formal questions as those can come off as scripted and unfriendly. Interviewers will assume whatever you ask implies what's important to you. For example, asking about time off does not reflect a strong candidate, so consider that when creating your list of questions. Remember to leave the interview on a positive note with a question such as, “What do you like about working here?”
The questions you pose in the final moments can be a deal-breaker or deal-maker and shape the interviewer’s perception of your work ethic and candidacy. Crafting these compelling final questions will increase your chances of leaving your mark on your potential employer. Next time you’re handed the mic at the end of your interview, ask questions that convey your preparedness and indicate your commitment to learning and making informed decisions about your career. Avoid asking questions solely about your role and how you did during the interview, as this will likely not help you obtain the position. Resist rushing at the end and seize the opportunity to express your enthusiasm and curiosity through questions.
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