I’m always asked by nervous job seekers, “What should I do when the interviewer asks me, ‘Do you have any questions for me?’?” This question seems to stress out a lot people to such a degree that they can’t focus on the interview.
It’s customary for the interviewer to ask this question at the end of an interview. It’s automatic— similar to instinctively inquiring on Monday how your co-worker’s weekend was. Let’s be honest, most of us really aren’t interested in hearing all about the exploits of their kids’ baseball games, playdates and dance recitals. It’s just one of those social etiquette things we do to pretend that that we have feelings and care. You could add, “How are you doing today?”, “How’s the family?” and “What to you think about this crazy weather?” to the list. The “Do you have any questions?” inquiry is the corporate equivalent to these questions. The interviewer asks out of protocol, but she’s probably not too interested in the answer and using this as a way to signal that the interview is wrapping up.
Let’s put aside the dreaded question for a moment. When you are interviewing for an important position, you must be completely engaged in the moment. You want to pay close attention to all of the social cues offered by the interviewer, including her style of interviewing, mannerisms, the pattern of her speech, tone of her voice and other signs that will help you establish a rapport, build trust and enable you to effectively sell your skills and abilities.
View the interview as a normal give-and-take, natural, real organic conversation. It shouldn’t be a robotic sequence of the interviewer asks a question, you answer dispassionately, the interviewer asks another question, you answer again—and so on until it’s over. Think of how you carry a conversation in real life and apply it to the interview. If you are sincerely interested and excited about something the interviewer says, feel comfortable enough to offer a passionate answer with specific thoughtful follow-up questions. The conversation will flow naturally and you’ll really get to know each other. Think of it as two professionals talking shop. It will become an interesting, engaging, informative and passionate back-and-forth conversation. The interviewer will learn much more about you because you will truly open up and talk freely. With this more natural approach, just like in everyday conversations, your true personality will shine. She’ll also tend to like you more because you helped her with the difficult task of being an interviewer.
By the time it comes to the dreaded “Do you have any questions for me?” question, you won’t even have to worry. At the culmination of the interview, the interviewer may not even inquire if you have any questions because you have already asked a number of intelligent questions.
If she does ask and you don’t really have anything left that you would like addressed, you can reply by saying, “You have been very gracious in taking the time to answer all of my questions. I appreciate the open and informative dialogue. It was helpful for me to gain an understanding of the company, the job and its requirements. I feel confident that I possess the skills, background, experience, ability and desire to succeed in the role. What do you think?”
If you have a few remaining questions, since you’ve already established an open dialogue, you won’t feel uncomfortable asking another genuine question or two. Another approach would be to rephrase some of the questions you asked and sum up your understanding of the answers. This will illustrate that you were listening to her answers. Then, if you’d like, you can turn the tables and ask, “Do you have any questions for me?”