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Recruiter Perspective on "What questions do you have for us?"

Amateurs view the employer Q&A at the end of the interview as a time to learn about the job. Pros have previously sleuthed and deciphered answers to many of their questions. They use the window to fill in the gaps, and then sell. While they learn more about the opportunity, the pros build rapport, talk shop, and 'close' for the win.

As a recruiter, I can tell you there isn't just a world of opportunity when you ask the employer questions during the interview. There's an expectation. There are points (major, game-changing points) on the table to be won, and there is also a risk of losing it all.

True Story:

Recently, I led the recruiting process for a Director-level position at a nationally-recognized advertising agency. We narrowed down two final candidates: one was already in a Director chair of 2 years, and one was a tenacious, resourceful and scrappy Senior Manager.

"Ms. Senior Manager" put forth a solid job interview throughout. She had less experience than her competitor, so as expected, she gave a strong but Senior Manager-level interview. However, in those last "5 minutes" when we opened the dialogue for questions aimed at us, she became a Director in our eyes. She asked about the business (clients and internal), and we went back and forth about finances and operational elements, decision-making processes, corporate vision, mistakes and learning experiences of the agency over the years, staff leadership, and the industries / business verticals of the clients. The 5 minutes stretched to more like 15 to 20. With each question and follow-up statement we kept thinking, "Wow, she's a deep and strategic thinker for her level! She really gets it!" Subconsciously, we started to arrive at: "She could do this. She's the one!" At the end, she had learned what she needed to know to assess the job for herself . . . and she had also closed us, and sold us on her. Hook, line and sinker.

"Mr. current Director" - for 95% of the interview process - was stellar, as expected. Until the last "5 minutes" of employer Q&A turned out to be more like 3 minutes. (I have given him this feedback, so I can share publicly): The questions he asked and corresponding conversation was thin. As a consequence, the final impression he left on us was that he didn't have much interest in our business, our culture, or our upcoming goals. Consequently, we couldn't help but doubt his enthusiasm and drive. That was his final impression, completing the whole interview process.

So What's The Point?

Those last few minutes - the remaining 5% of job interview real estate - are frequently 'make or break' for the candidate.

As the interviewer, you may be thinking that you get to learn more about the job you're potentially getting yourself into. That's true. But on our ends, we can likely answer your questions without thinking too hard. (It's our business that we live in every day, after all. We should know it well). So while we're listening to your questions and answering them . . . we're also keenly watching your depth of thought and business acumen like a hawk during this phase of the interview. And we DO talk about the questions you ask us afterwards, as we're deciding on your candidacy.

Be a pro. Ask us insightful and savvy questions. If you're not sure what to ask, talk to me, and just research. The mere act of expanding your knowledge base into some of the concepts that I've mentioned is an act of professional development. Kudos! There's a deep sphere of applicable dialogue that can occur at the job level and functional level, the organizational level, the industry and sector, competitive landscape, etc. Be #CareerForward!

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