The Killer Questions?

Killer question - what time will I finish work?

Killer question – what time will I finish work?

During my career I’ve sat at both sides of the interview table and have also stood outside the interview room with my fingers crossed for the person inside. During that time I have heard and used some clever questions in the interview, of which I like to call “The Killer Questions”. Why do I call it that? Well there are 2 reasons… First it could be the question that you ask that seals the deal (gets you the job), secondly it could well be the question that kills off all hope of securing the job. So the key to doing it right lies in the why and when you use it.


Well in my experience the questions that a candidate asks at the end of an interview can be the thing that swings the interview in their favour. If you really do want the job and the interview feels like it has gone well, then asking a couple of intelligent questions will round it off nicely and could land you another interview or an offer. Conversely, asking what you perceive to be a clever question if it’s not gone well or worse still, asking a question that is inappropriate or plain daft will inevitably end up with a “Thanks, but are you having a laugh?” letter.


Well that is really down to you as depending on the type of interview that it is, there may not be an obvious place to ask. The key is to listen to what the interviewer says to you at the start of the interview. The interviewer will often indicate if it’s OK to stop, interrupt, ask or seek clarification on a point. If they say this, it means that they would welcome a sensible question. Note the word “sensible” (we’ll look at this later under “Ugly”). The ideal place though is right at the end of the interview when you’ll likely get something along the lines of “So do you have any questions for me/us”? That’s you cue – take a breath, think and ask.

So what’s “Good”?

Well if there is something that has been discussed that you frankly didn’t quite understand, or feel that you didn’t quite get enough context behind it etc – then ask.
When you’ve done this use the simple Company/Team/You approach. Some examples could be along the lines of;

Company – “I see from various media articles that I’ve read (of course you will have researched the company beforehand) that the company has increased its turnover. What do you attribute to being the single biggest reason for this growth?”
Team – “If I was to speak to one of the team, what do think they would say was good about working for the company?”
You – “When you joined the company, what was it that convinced you to join?”
These types of questions should give you a chance to sit back and let the interviewer sell the company, team and themselves to you. It’s clever as all of a sudden, you become the interviewer and put them under a little pressure!

So what’s “Bad”?

Asking questions when the interview hasn’t gone that well is just going to prolong the agony for you. It will waste the interviewer’s time and yours and will completely put them off you. Similarly if you’re not interested, it’s again wasting both parties time, so don’t bother.

So what’s “Ugly”?

Probably a bit obvious, but questions like “remind me what time I start and finish?”, “exactly how many hours do you expect me to work?”, “do I get an hours lunch break?”, “how much does the job pay?” or like one idiot asked me? “did you sack the last fella then?”. Whilst some of these questions may appear to be important – are they really? Probably not. If they are important you’re probably unlikely to be the right person for the role.

And finally…

OK so you’re just about to leave. It’s gone well. The interviewer has been open and impressed by your previous questions. You absolutely want the job. You feel very confident. You could top it off with “Is there anything that I have said or not been clear enough on that would prevent me from being offered another interview or gives you cause for concern”. It’s bold, it’s audacious but a great way to tie it all up neatly… go for it.

About colincrowley2012

Group Recruitment Manager at Kcom, a specialist in in-house recruitment manager within the telecoms and IT market.
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