In this blog series, we explore questions candidates should be asking during the job interview process.
In the last two articles, we discussed appropriate questions during preliminary phone screenings, and the actual interviews. In this post, we will focus on questions to ask during a final interview and after receiving an offer.
Third (or Final) Interviews
Being selected for this final round is great validation of your professional qualifications, however, now the hiring manager is forced to narrow their choice down to one from the remaining two (or three). Meaning, they will be looking for eliminating factors, rather than looking for qualifying factors. Even the most impressive candidate with the best first and second interviews in the pack can inadvertently cross themselves off the list in this stage without careful preparation.
Without being overly guarded, be aware they are the most critical of you at this stage. It is not intended to make you feel self-conscious, although it could come across that way at times. Expect lots of behavioral questions meant to give them the insight into how you’ll interact on a team.
Also, expect these interviews to be long. Expect to be interviewed by multiple people - and ask for a list of names and a schedule ahead of time! Expect to demonstrate your skills in the form of a skills test, presentation, design exercise, etc. (depending on your job), if you have not already. Expect to answer the same question from multiple people.
In broad strokes, they want to see which of the final candidates is the best culture fit. It would be pretty difficult to predict the specific questions you’ll be asked here, so the best thing you can do is research the company well, and have a list of your own questions to ask.
So, given all that context, we recommend you ask every person who interviews you the same two questions:
- What about my qualifications or experience appeal to you the most?
- Are there any reservations about my fit for the position that I could try to address?
Focusing on asking these questions gives you a few strategic advantages:
1. Followers of our blog may remember that we recommended the first of the two questions about in our post about early stage-interviews. But the individual(s) interviewing you today are likely far-removed from the person who initially recommended you to the hiring manager. Your interviewers today are, or are very influential to, the decision maker. You need to know what these people see in you - the good and the bad. You won’t get that kind of detail passed along through the recruiter because they have different motivations.
2. Asking both of these questions will force them to speak positively about you. People may have their internal judgements, but even when asked for direct criticism, they will likely coat their criticisms as politely and positively as they can. As in life, most people want to be considered nice, not mean! Use this natural tendency to your advantage by helping them remind themselves why they like you so much.
3. These open-end questions will give you a break from the hot seat. The more they are able to expand on their thoughts in the moment, the more information you have to leverage. Keep them talking with follow up questions, and be humble!
What to Ask With an Offer on the Table
It’s possible you get an offer on the spot, but don’t be discouraged if it comes in a follow up call from your recruiter. Follow ups are much more typical. It may be obvious, but the longer you wait for that phone call, the less likely it is to come through. So no matter how good you feel about a first, second, or third interview, make sure you are continuing to network and apply to new opportunities.
But let’s stay on course… Let’s say all of our advice worked and you have been given an offer. Congratulations!
The recruiter, hiring manager, and others have spent a lot of time and money getting you to this point. The ball is in your court, and now is the time to ask specifics about your compensation and anything that concerns you. Refer to your notes, and if you are going to counter or challenge anything, make sure you have researched your arguments very well.
However, if you don’t know the answers to the following questions, ask them now, directly:
What is the average tenure of employees in this company? How long was my predecessor in this role?
This will give you some insight into turnover at the organization and for your specific role in particular. If employees are typically only around for a year or two, it could be a sign of a negative work environment, lack of growth, or a problematic management team.
Can I get this offer in writing?
Having all of the details in front of you in writing will enable you to better review the offer and assess any points where you may want to negotiate. Remember, salary is only part of the overall package, there could be other areas where employers are open to discussion, such as bonuses, PTO, professional development/education stipends, benefits etc. Negotiation strategies for maximizing the potential of your compensation package are a multi-part blog series in their own right, so we’ll avoid going into further explanation on this point. If you’re not comfortable with the offer but you really want to work at this company, consider hiring a last minute negotiation coach or calling a trusted mentor.
What is your family leave policy?
Even if you don’t presently have children and don’t plan to, it is critical to know how your company handles this situation. While family leave policies are often thought of in terms of maternity or paternity leave, they can also include personal health issues, as well as time to care for an ailing spouse or parent.
In Japan, there are laws in place to make sure companies offer family leave for their employees, but it's not always easy to take one especially at a company where peer pressure of not taking one is strong. Therefore, it may be helpful to ask how many people in your department or team are taking, or have taken, family leave, as well as the percentage of men who take parental leave, which is still not common in Japan.
Will anything about the organization’s structure or leadership be changing any time soon?
Simply put, if you’re going to have a new boss in two weeks, you’ll want to know upfront.
What is your current state of diversity and inclusion? What initiatives are you implementing to improve that rate?
Again, even if diversity and inclusion programs don’t help or hurt you in any way, you should know if this company has the ability to modernize and recognize where they need to make changes. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, consider it a red flag.
What is the on-boarding process going to look like (day one, week one, etc.) and who is personally responsible for my on-boarding experience?
Make sure they have a plan - or at least get them thinking about a plan - to set you up for success on day one! As a follow up, you can also ask when your first employee evaluation will be scheduled.
Computer Futures is dedicated to connecting top tech talent with great companies around the world. We don’t just want to find people jobs, we want to partner with them throughout their career. If you are ready to take the next step in your career, find our job opportunities or upload your CV here. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for advice and assistance.