It’s game time—the interview is here. You prepped well. You aced the handshake, anticipated the questions they asked, and wowed them with your smooth, competent demeanor and relevant work anecdotes. Or maybe it wasn’t your best interview (it happens), and you need a way to salvage the whole thing. Either way, as the interview is wrapping up, it’s time to close strong. This is your chance to leave a valuable impression on your way out. At this point, most interviewers will open the floor to you by asking if you have any other questions. Before you simply shake hands and say “thank you for your time,” consider asking these four questions to finish strong.
1. “How would you describe the culture here in the office?”
This question shows that you’re already thinking about how you can fit in and add value to this company. It also gives you an unofficial glimpse into what the company is like—information that you can’t necessarily get from online research. The interviewer is unlikely to tell you the “warts and all” version (after all, they brought you in because they may be inviting you to join the team and have no interest in scaring you away), but it’s a good way to get an initial feel for whether the job will truly be a good fit for you.
2. “What’s been your favorite part about working for this company?”
This engages the interviewer’s personal side, letting them give an opinion that isn’t necessarily based on the company motto or the job description. The answer can be even more revealing about the day-to-day life at the company than asking, “What’s the day-to-day like here?” For example, at one interview I asked this question and was pleasantly surprised to find out that once a month the company throws a pizza party for employees and holds regular events like employee bake-offs and craft fairs. That told me that the company valued employee morale, and was a deciding factor when I accepted the job. If the interviewer seems stumped by this question and has to think for a while before answering what he or she likes about the place, then…that may be a red flag, which is also good information to have.
3. “What experience best prepared you for working here?”
Again, this engages with the interviewer and gets them responding candidly without being too intrusive or personal. It shows that you’re invested in preparing for this job. It also tells you about the kinds of skills that will serve you best in this role, regardless of what’s in the job description. For example, if the interviewer tells you that working for a chaotic small company prepared her for the “all hands on deck” attitude of this place, it tells you that teamwork is prized here. You can respond by saying something like, “I thrive in that kind of atmosphere too. Working at a small mom-and-pop store taught me how valuable it is for everyone to pitch in to get the job done.”
4. “How would you describe the leadership style here?”
Up to this point, it’s likely that the interview was focused on the job itself and your qualifications. This question opens it up a bit and tells you more about the expectations of the company for this job—whether it’s a hands-on management kind of company (or potentially micromanaging), or a leadership style that relies on employees being more independent. It also tells the interviewer that you’re thinking about creating a productive, in-tune relationship with your potential manager.
As with all interview questions, it’s important to read the flow of the interview. If you’ve covered any of these topics earlier, no need to rehash them at the end—it could look like you weren’t paying attention. But making sure you have a potential list of thoughtful, engaged questions ready to go will help you finish the interview in a polished, professional way.