Interviewees: Whatever You Do, Ask Questions! by Mark Goldman, CPAPosted: February 19, 2018
I will always remember an interview I had at the end of my college years when I was trying to get a job as an entry-level tax accountant. Several firms had come to campus for interviews. I was fortunate enough to get past the campus interview with Ernst & Young and was invited to their offices for a chain of interviews that would last about 3 hours.
Things went well with the first four or five people I met. Then came the final step – to meet one of the partners. I waited outside his office for what seemed like forever (probably 5 minutes), and then was escorted in. I sat down and was prepared to answer any question he could throw at me… my goals, ambitions, strengths, weaknesses… whatever came up. He looked at me, sat back in his chair, and simply said, “So, what questions do you have for me?”
I was speechless. I was supposed to answer questions, not ask them! I didn’t know what to say. After a few moments, the only words I uttered were, “I don’t have any.” It was at that moment I realized I had blown it. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I wasn’t getting that job. At the end of every other interview I had asked a few questions, but at this point I was out of things to ask. It was over.
The moral of the story… always have questions prepared for your interviewer. Asking questions shows many positive things about you, not the least of which is that you are taking the possibility of joining the organization very seriously. It doesn’t mean to interrogate the interviewer, but rather ask just a few meaningful questions to make sure you understand the position and expectations, and to show that you are thinking it through.
Not asking questions after being prompted by the interviewer makes the conversation come to an abrupt stop. The interviewer has no alternative other than to just awkwardly end the interview. It causes them to think you either are not that interested in the job, or are not really engaged in the process. Disinterested and unengaged people don’t get hired.
If nothing else, at least clarify what was discussed. Restating what was discussed shows the interviewer that you have been paying attention. It may not be as strong as a few in-depth questions, but at least it removes the abrupt ending that would otherwise be caused by a “No, I don’t have any questions” response.
In summary, the next time you are preparing for an interview, take the time to prepare a few questions. It may be the one thing that makes all the difference.
I wish you the best in your search.
Mark Goldman, CPA
Mark Goldman is the founder of MGR Accounting Recruiters, a San Antonio based recruiting company whose primary business is the placement of accounting professionals in both permanent and contract positions.