End Your Interviews Like This (if you want the job… if not, pretty much any ending works)

Coming out of college I was interviewing so frequently that it was nearly an athletic experience, and I found a pattern. All interviews tend to wind down the same way. Regardless of how painful or pleasant they were, just before you’re ushered out the door, someone will ask you something along the lines of, “So… Any last questions?”

At this point you shouldn’t have anything extremely pressing left. This last conversational formality isn’t really designed to dive back into the technical applications of the product or any future market expansion plans; it’s only function is to tie a nice bow on the interview in a way that sounds a little better than, “Please, leave now.” So how do you respond in a way that adds value to the conversation, when the interview is essentially over but there are still two or more bodies in the room? Just like this:

“Actually yeah, I was wondering what your best moment so far at (company name here) was?”

It doesn’t sound like a lot but, full disclosure: I’ve been using this question for a few years now and it’s gotten my foot wedged in doors that my body had no business entering. So please, please, wield this power responsibly. This question has gotten founders I’ve sat down with to shed tears and gotten me invited back to interviews that were going so poorly that I had been actively considering escaping midway through. But, it has also granted me the insight necessary to walk away from some seemingly fantastic offers based on the candid responses received from this innocent toss out.

  1. The answers they give will grant you an intimate look into what it is that they value. The answers to these questions has taught me more about the people I would potentially be working for than I could have possibly imagined when the words to this question first spilled out of my mouth to cover an awkward silence. In answering this question, a hiring manager will give you their very personal definition of success and, by extension, what kind of achievement they value most. If your value structure doesn’t align with theirs, maybe this isn’t the person you should be working for.
  2. This question packages you. When you get someone to elaborate about their fondest memory of their career to you, that conversation becomes paired with those emotions subconsciously. And if you’re interviewing against dozens of other potential hires, that bit of fondness while recalling your sit down could be the difference between getting a call back and being forgotten.
  3. If they can’t think of one, you should reevaluate if you want to work for their company. This should be a huge red flag, especially if the person you asked is your hiring manager. Displaying an inability to reflect fondly upon achievements means they likely won’t pay much attention to recognizing them when they occur in the future. If they don’t pause to give themselves a pat on the back every so often, you shouldn’t expect to receive one yourself.

I could go on almost indefinitely about why you should ask this question and what it’s done for me but it might be simpler to just ask you to go out and try it. Next interview you have, drop in this question at the end and let me know how it goes (twitter = @tsardarr), I bet you’ll be surprised.

Marshall Darr is a current student in Tradecraft’s Growth Track who will talk about himself in the third person for the rest of this paragraph. If you’re hiring for a Growth or Revenue position, and would like to see these interview skills first hand, feel free to contact him on his Linkedin. Or, if you’d just like to be friends, Marshall can be reached on twitter (@tsardarr).