Answering that ‘last question’ in your job interview:

April 28, 2013

You are almost through with your interview. You have answered questions to the best of your ability. But hang on! The interview is not over yet. You are asked by interviewers: Would you like to ask us anything? This question has become very common now.

A friend recently sought my advice on answering this question. I remembered when I was asked this question. I was not prepared. I said, “If you have to mention the top three skills that a person must have to do this job well in your organization, what would those be? The interviewers answered. It actually led them to ask a few more questions. I got the opportunity to let them know a bit more about myself. I shared situations in my professional life where I had learnt and demonstrated those skills. It must have helped because I was hired.

I also ask this question in the interviews that I conduct. Recently, I was interviewing a person for a short term consultancy. She said, “How would you describe successful completion of this consultancy”? We had discussed the ‘terms of reference’ of the assignment but she wanted me to articulate it again in practical terms. She was hired as well.

These two examples have a common thread and provide a clue to respond to the question. Show that you are a serious candidate; want to know more about the requirements of the post; and the organization. So, I would suggest the following when interviewers give you an opportunity to ask them something:

  1.  Though I have seen the Terms of Reference/job description, what are the critical skills you are looking for in the person in the context of your organizational vision and work culture?
  2. Seek clarity on any question that was asked and you could not answer well. This gives you another chance to offer a better answer.

These questions demonstrate your attitude to work. Interviewers appreciate this. Last but not the least, be honest in all answers. Knowing about the organization and thinking about the requirements of the post should be part of the preparation for the interview.

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