You’ve written a killer job application
worthy of a Nobel Prize, turned up looking dapper and breezed through a barrage of testing questions without breaking sweat, but now comes the question you didn’t prepare for: “Is there anything you would like to ask us?”
To avoid falling flat on your face at the last hurdle, don’t reply with a feeble mewl telling them that you have nothing to ask. Prepare yourself to impress your future employers with some final flashes of brilliance to demonstrate that you are just the kind of thoughtful and forward-thinking individual they are looking for.
Having a few questions already prepared, that you can recall without having to think too hard, will get you over that yawning gulf between the ecstasy of knowing you have finished your grilling, and the uneasy realisation that you have not yet escaped.
Don’t mention the money!
It is probably best not to tackle the issue of pay. Wait until the dust has settled, you have been home and discussed with your nearest and dearest (or the cat) every last aspect of your stellar performance, and you get the call that means they are hungry for you. Then you can bargain to your heart’s content.
As all good psychology post-grads know, the way to get someone talking is to ask open-ended questions. Your employers will, no doubt, have asked you plenty of these during your interview. This means avoiding questions that only require a yes or no answer. Instead of “Will I be part of a large team?” try “Can you tell me about the team I will be working with?”.
Don’t be too interrogative
You don’t want to appear aggressive. The idea is not to put your employers on the spot and make them feel foolish. You want to show that you have thought about the reality of getting started on the job and your aim is to help them visualise you in the role making an immediate contribution. Don’t try to get revenge for any probing questions that you feel highlighted your weaknesses. Be charming (you can snarl and gnash your teeth once you are on your own), and don’t attempt to trip them up.
Demonstrate your commitment
If the job is a temporary one, ask about the possibility of extensions and what these might be based on. Will there be opportunities to find other similar contracts elsewhere within the company? If the job is permanent, try to build a positive image of you as someone able to grow beyond the current role. What are the opportunities for further training, experience in other departments or paths for promotion?
Ask for homework
Just before you leave, ask if there is any reading they would recommend to prepare for the role, anyone you should follow up with or an organisation tree you should study.
Whatever happens, even if the job doesn’t turn out to be the one for you, the questions you asked and they way they were received will be invaluable experience for the future - and might even help you work out what to add to your CV
for the next time.