Interviews are usually your final chance to shine before the hiring manager decides whether to hire you or not. So, it’s not exactly breaking news that it’s a good idea to end strong. If you’re doing well, it could seal the deal. And, if you’re not doing so hot, it might at least get you through to the next round.
Most interviewers will end an interview by asking you if you have any questions—so that’s your opportunity to go above and beyond. Aside from impressing them with questions that are a little more thoughtful than, “What is a typical day like?” try asking one of these showstoppers.
1. Do I Have the Job?
This might be a bit much for some people, but not for Barbara Corcoran, real estate investor on Shark Tank. As quoted in Richie Frieman’s book, Reply All and Other Ways to Tank Your Career, Corcoran believes in being aggressive (though polite, of course!) in order to earn an interviewer’s respect.
I love an aggressive, polite close. It’s the final chance for an applicant to earn my respect… I have someone who works for me, a writer, and writers tend to be pretty introverted. After the interview, she asked me point blank, ‘Do I have the job?’ A little rude for some people, but I had to respect her for it. It’s an important closure question. It says, ‘I respect my own time.’
It’s certainly a bold move (and should only be used if you think the interviewer, like Corcoran, might appreciate it), but it may just be the signal he or she needs to know that you’re the one for the job. While the answer will likely be something along the lines of, “We need some time to think about it and consider other applicants,” it’s really more about the impression you’re leaving behind.
2. Is There Anything We Discussed Today That Makes You Feel That I Am Not the One for the Job?
Here’s another question that takes some guts to ask. (And, again, you should certainly attempt to read your interviewers and hypothesize how they would take a question like this before asking it.)
The benefits behind this question, concocted by a veteran career counselor, are three fold. If the interviewer’s answer to this question is that you are plenty qualified, then great! He or she will walk out of here with that last thought in mind. Or, if he or she shows some concerns, you’ll actually have the opportunity to address them and attempt to mitigate your perceived limitations. (If a hiring manager is, say, concerned that you don’t have a lot of management experience, that’s your cue to talk in detail about running the company internship program.) Lastly, this question does a beautiful job of showing off your openness to feedback and professionalism in the face of criticism.
3. What Can I Do to Convince You I’m the One for the Job?
Sometimes it takes more than a few good stories to show a hiring manager that you’re capable of doing the job. If you’re getting the sense that your interviewer just isn’t convinced that you’re the one, try being upfront and asking what it’ll take.
There are two ways this can go. Either the interviewer will bring up a particular type of project he or she would like see some experience in, and you can address this concern head on, or you’ll get a take-home assignment that will simply assess whether you can do the job or not. This may even be an opportunity for you to take the initiative and suggest a work assignment where you can concretely show your ability to handle the job.
(Side note: If the moment has passed and the interview is all wrapped up, you can always try Alexandra Franzen’s technique of following up with some unexpected generosity that is sure to leave a good impression.)
These questions aren’t for everyone. All of these require some level of comfort with the person you’re speaking with and guts—lots of guts. There’s no hard and fast rule about whether you should ask them. In the end, it depends on your interviewer and it depends on you. Do some self-reflection and judge for yourself if they suit your style. If they do, they might just be that extra little bump that pushes you ahead of other candidates and lands you the job.
Photo of magician courtesy of Shutterstock.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author