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A negotiation expert on why asking questions in a job interview is a must

Job interviews are like negotiation - and you need to ask questions. Source: Getty
Job interviews are like negotiation - and you need to ask questions. Source: Getty

It’s the moment when you’re put on the spot at the very end of a job interview: “Any questions?”

What you answer with will leave a lasting impression on your potential employer, and it could make or break their decision.

“Asking questions at the end of the interview is another opportunity for you to impress,” the managing director of recruiting firm Hays, Nick Deligiannis told Yahoo Finance earlier this year.

In contrast, asking no questions makes you seem uninterested, he said.


Clinical professor at Columbia Law School and director of mediation at CLS Mediation, Alexandra Carter, knows a thing or two about negotiation.

She believes looking for a job is just like negotiating.

“Job hunting is actually negotiation,” she tweeted. “And asking questions is your best strategy.”

Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Carter says while most people define negotiation as a back-and-forth exchange to get to an agreement, usually over money, that’s not quite the case.

“My definition of negotiation is any conversation in which you are steering a relationship.”

So what does this new definition mean for job interviews?

“If you define negotiation narrowly, you think the only time you're negotiating is during the salary conversation that comes at the end of the interview process,” Carter said.

“But make no mistake: that's too late to start negotiating. From the moment you make contact with someone at a company, and in every conversation afterward, you are negotiating your future at that company.”

“You are steering your relationship with that interviewer, that future manager.”

And you need to be prepared, Carter said.

“By treating the entire interview process as one large negotiation, by the time you get to talking about money or telework you will have already laid the foundation for how they think about you, your value and your potential.”

What questions should you ask in an interview?

Hays’ Deligiannis said the best question you can ask is, “What results would constitute success in this job?”

He said the question showed interest in the role, and a high level of motivation to succeed.

Carter said two questions she would definitely ask are:

  1. “What do you need most from a person in this role?”; and

  2. “Tell me about the last person you hired who turned out to be a star.”

Is there anything you shouldn’t ask?

Indeed’s head of career insights Jay Munro told Yahoo Finance that any questions you ask should show eagerness, effort and humility. Therefore, any question to the contrary should probably be avoided.

That means asking these three questions:

  1. How long do I have to do this role before I can get promoted?

  2. What’s the salary?

  3. How did I do?

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