What is a good question to ask at the end of a job interview?

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Phew! Your interview is nearly over and – whether it went badly or brilliantly – you’re probably keen to rush out of there.

But wait! There is one last question coming – and, contrary to what many graduates think, it’s not just a ‘filler’ question that employers ask to ‘wrap-up’ the interview nicely. 

In fact, Graduate Fog understands that the question “And do you have anything you’d like to ask us?” is actually a key moment in any interview, and graduates who don’t have something up their sleeve risk missing out on a final opportunity to score bonus points that could see them move from the employer’s ‘Maybe’ pile to their ‘Yes’ pile of candidates for the job.

“The best questions to ask will depend on the role you are going for, but make sure you definitely ask something – it shows you’re interested and engaged in the role and the company you are applying to,” Nadine Barr, Talent Brand Executive at Grant Thornton, tells Graduate Fog.

“A good tip is to prepare a bank of questions – around six is a good number. That is just in case any of them are answered throughout the interview.” And Nadine has one final word of warning for graduates preparing for interviews. “Whatever you ask, make sure it’s relevant and it isn’t basic knowledge you should already know from your own research.” Foggers, you have been warned.

So, what is a good question to ask at the end of a job interview? Six top graduate employers tell Graduate Fog what they’re really hoping you’ll say – and what they’re praying you won’t say…

NADINE BARR, TALENT BRAND EXECUTIVE AT PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRM GRANT THORNTON

NADINE BARR, TALENT BRAND EXECUTIVE AT PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRM GRANT THORNTON

Nadine says: “What you ask could be as general as a question on something that interests you about the company’s strategy or you could ask something about the team or the person who’s interviewing you, specifically. You could ask a question on a particular issue or event that’s happening in the wider industry or economy which relates to the role or the team you are applying to.”

ALIX SHEPHERD, ALLEN & OVERY

ALIX SHEPHERD, ALLEN & OVERY

Alix says: “What should you ask? Something you genuinely want to know instead of something you think I would like to hear. And no, I’m not going to give an example – for obvious reasons!”

JODIE HARTIGAN, E.ON

JODIE HARTIGAN, E.ON

Jodie says: “I think ‘What does my career look like after the graduate programme?’ is always a good one. It shows you’re thinking about a long-term career with us.”

SIMON HOLLOWOOD, MINTEL

SIMON HOLLOWOOD, MINTEL

Simon says: “I like it when candidates show some original thinking – there is nothing worse than a ‘cut and paste’ style question. A candidate recently asked ‘How has Brexit impacted your business?’ He was trying to be topical but the question was so big it just sounded lazy, as he could have asked the same thing to any employer, plus there is too much unknown around the issue. Instead, he could have said: ‘Brexit has caused much uncertainty for businesses – for example I notice Pret a Manger is very concerned about recruitment of staff in the future. How does this aspect of Brexit impact your business?’ It is the same topic, but it would have demonstrated that he’d been following general business news and was relating it back to the hiring manager in a much more dynamic way. Another error is to be too personal. A candidate who had clearly looked me up on LinkedIn before his interview asked how my job at Mintel compared with my previous role at another company. It just wasn’t appropriate.”

JULIE STANBRIDGE, EY

JULIE STANBRIDGE, EY

Julie says: “Don’t just have one question, prepare a list! Remember that for us, the recruitment process is two-way so this is your time to decide if we are the right employer for you – are we the right place for you to launch your career? Ask us about our organisation, our clients, the opportunities we can offer you and what you can expect from us. A question around business strategy is always a powerful and insightful question too. Knowing where the business is going is important and how you might fit into that.”

Jazmin Curzon

JASMIN CURZON, GRADUATE AT IBM

Jasmin says: “If all of your questions have been answered during the interview, ask the interviewer about their career history and what they enjoy most about working at IBM. This is a great way to finish the interview with a better understanding of personal experiences within the company, while you also continue to build rapport with your interviewer.”

* DO YOU HAVE A GREAT QUESTION YOU ALWAYS ASK IN INTERVIEWS?
If you’re feeling generous, please share it with other job-seekers! Or, if you’re an employer or a recruiter reading this, what do you think is a great question for applicants to ask at the end of their interview? And is there anything they should really NOT ask?

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