The end of a job interview can be awkward. You want to leave the interviewer with a very good impression of you, and you also want to know how you did – how you rank among the other “contenders” for the job.
Should You Ask for the Job at the End of the Interview?
Many experts will tell you that you MUST ask for the job, ending each interview with a question like one of these -
“I am very interested in this job and working in this organization. Are you ready to offer me the job?
“Based on my resume and this interview, is there any reason you wouldn’t hire me?”
However, just as many experts will tell you that you must NOT ask for the job because you will come across as too aggressive and can kill the opportunity.
Who is right? In my opinion, both are right, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes this question is very appropriate. However, at other times, it is the wrong thing to do.
Things to Consider:
Let’s examine the things that impact whether or not you should ask the question. Here are some considerations:
- Is the job in marketing or sales?
I’ve spoken with HR people and hiring managers for an organization’s marketing and sales departments, and also small business owners filling sales or marketing jobs. For those jobs and those functions, they usually want job candidates to ask the question! They want the candidate to try to “close the sale” as a demonstration of how the person would act as an employee trying to close a client sale. For those employers and jobs, not asking the question can be a big mistake, demonstrating lack of sales skills and disqualifying you.
- Where is this interview in the over-all interview process?
Usually - but not always – there are at least two rounds of interviews, with the first round being the more junior people in the organization. If you pass their screening, then you meet with the more senior people in the organization.
So, if this is your first interview in the first round, asking that question is probably not a good idea (unless it’s a sales job, as above). Later in the process, it may be more appropriate or, possibly, expected.
- Who is the person doing the interview?
If the person is someone who would be a co-worker, the question is not appropriate. And, I have read many posts and comments from HR managers and corporate recruiters who would not be impressed by the question. If the person is the hiring manager or the hiring manager’s boss, the question could be appropriate, depending on the other considerations and your level of comfort in asking the question.
Other Questions You Could Ask:
Most job seekers I’ve spoken with are not comfortable asking the direct question, but other alternatives, less aggressive, can be a good idea.
If you don’t feel comfortable asking for the job or if it isn’t appropriate to ask, here are some alternatives that are usually viewed as acceptable alternatives to ask at the end of an interview:
- “Do you have any major concerns about my ability to do this job?”
- “What do you see as a perfect fit for this role?”
These questions should give you some insight into how well you have done, but don’t count on anything said in the interview as a job offer. Job offers should come in writing with lots of detail involved, like job title, salary level, and start date.
Other assurances you may receive from interviewers could be sincere but premature (particularly if the person making the assurance is not the hiring manager), or could be completely insincere – just making you feel better on your way out the door.
Questions You Should Ask at the End of the Interview:
These are question you should definitely ask at the end of your job interview:
- “What are the next steps in the process?” - OR -
- “What is your timeframe for making this hire?”
- “Who should I stay in touch with?” - AND -
- “How should I stay in touch (telephone, email, etc.) with [that person]?
Understanding the next steps in the process and getting an estimate on the timing involved will help you better handle the waiting. But, do know that any time frame you are given is only an estimate. Most of the time, interviews take much longer than anyone on the employer’s side wants it to take. And it certainly takes longer than the job seeker wants.
Do NOT stop job hunting to wait for the outcome of this job interview. Keep job hunting, and take every interview opportunity you have until you have a new job.
For More Information About Job Interviews:
© Copyright, 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.