In yesterday’s Courier Mail’s Careerone (p3) the following  was suggested by Phillip Hesketh as a way to end a job interview:

“When you’re being interviewed just say ‘Before I go, on a scale of one to 10, where one is you wish you hadn’t interviewed me, and 10 is you want to offer me the job, where are we?’  ‘Not where am I, but where are we?’

‘They might say ‘eight’.  “And you say, ‘OK, what do we have to do to get it to a 10’.”

I haven’t yet seen a candidate try this – but I notice that this type of question (e.g. ‘Do you have any reservations about my skills that I could address for you?’)  is being used more often by candidates at the end of job interviews . Trying to clarify any misgivings the interviewer may have is a good idea. However, you may find this question doesn’t work when:

  • it sounds like you read it in a ‘how to attend job interviews book and you thought you’d give it a try
  • it comes across as an overly arrogant sales pitch
  • you have already used up your interview time and this question is just a further indicator to the interviewer of your lack of time management and courtesy
  • the interview is conducted by a rigid ‘merit based’ panel process, where panel members may feel that you have had ample opportunity to present what you have to offer, and that responding to this type of question just allows you an unfair advantage

Job interviewers have differing styles, preferences and biases about how to conduct interviews and what to look for in candidates. Some will see it as bad form if candidates do not ask questions.  Others run very tight processes that dont allow time for candidates to seek out any futher information.  These are my tips:

  • questions are a way to engage in a more personal and real way with an interviewer, and can show that you have researched their Company and thought about how you could fit.
  • check out the interviewer’s body language when they ask ‘Do you have any questions?’ See if they are relaxed and truly looking for you to ask questions – or turning the page, shuffling and looking at their Blackberry/watch.
  • if you ask a question, make sure that it is something that you are genuinely interested in about the job, and shows a high level of research and analysis about the Company.  Maybe:  ‘ I notice your Company/Department has just acquired ……………… In my last assignment in Economics I did a lot of reading about…………………Will there be opportunities in the first year to have a placement in this new area?’
  • definitely do not ask for information about something that is readily available to you by internet research about the Company. Most employers put out a lot of information about their graduate programmes, so it is very lame to ask basic questions like, ‘How many rotations will I have in the first year?’  
  • avoid just saying ‘No’. Maybe the best way to end is to say in your own words:  ‘Thank you, I don’t have any questions but I do want to thank you for the opportunity to attend this interview.  I have attended Career Fairs and spoken to people from your company, followed discussions on your Graduate Facebook page and online chat sessions, and read about the experiences of your previous graduates. I am confident that your Company is where I would like to start a career. If it is all right with you may I quickly summarise what I have to offer?’ Then follow this up with three key attributes that you can bring to the Company (sometimes referred to as your ‘thirty second sell’).

 

Good Luck with your Graduate application and interview.

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