ASK HR: What should an interviewee ask at the end of the interview?

Thursday July 12 2018

Would asking a critical question at a job interview risk a potential job offer? PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH


Q. At the end of an interview, the HR sometimes asks the interviewee if they have any questions for them. Is this the time to ask those questions that you truly want to ask?

Is that normally an honest invitation to ask a serious question such as, “what is the history of this position” or “why is this position vacant” or just something HR people say but do not really expect you to ask any critical questions?

Would asking a critical question risk a potential job offer?


Interviews are not only meant to provide the hiring company an indication of whether interviewees fit a position but also an opportunity for interviewees to ask questions and obtain a clearer picture of the company they hope to join.

It is sometimes possible, unfortunately, owing to factors such as inordinate pressure of time or political interference, that perfunctory interviews are conducted whereby the invitation to ask interviewers questions is a mechanical reflex rather than a genuine desire to quench an interviewee’s enquiry.


Inviting interviewees to ask questions can be a useful opportunity for the hiring company to learn more about what candidates care about, their motivations and anxieties, their knowledge of the organisation and perception of its brand, etc.

Besides obtaining information about them, interviewees’ questions can also be helpful to an organisation for their potential to allow a peek into the minds of individuals who are or could potentially become its customers.

While it is not possible to obtain all information about a company during an interview, it should concern you if the interviewers are uncomfortable with pertinent questions such as the history of a vacant position. It is your right to have relevant information concerning a position you hope to take up.

You should however mind the spirit with which you ask questions, as interviewers are more likely to take issue with how a question comes across than how challenging it is. Having stated that, it would bring you little fortune to ask an interviewer, even if you seriously wondered so, when they last smiled or combed their hair.

Rather than merely avoiding risky questions, consider too those that might enhance your chances of getting a job.

Think of questions whose answers would help you appreciate, for instance, how you can best contribute to the company’s efforts to offer greater value to its customers.