The single best question to ask in a job interview

They'll love this question. Image: Getty
They'll love this question. Image: Getty

We all know the importance of making a good first impression: a firm handshake, confident smile and engaging, but professional, smalltalk.

But it’s also critical to leave a good final impression in job interviews.

“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.

“In contrast, asking no questions makes you seem disinterested. Poor questions, such as only asking, “how long is the trial period?”, or “how many days holiday do I get?” don’t impress either. You want to ask a question that helps your interviewer visualise in their mind you doing the job well.”

And while Hays recommends interviewees have several questions prepared, Deligiannis said there is one question that stands above the rest.

“What results would constitute success in this job?”

As Deligiannis explained, this question shows interest in a role and a high level of motivation to succeed.

“It paints a picture in the interviewer’s mind of you successfully adding value to the organisation,” he said.

“The answer to this question also helps you decide if this job and the organisation is right for you.”

For example, a vague answer could indicate the company hasn’t thought through the role’s objectives. And if so, it begs the question as to how success will be measured and rewarded.

But if they have clear expectations, the applicant knows exactly what they need to do to become a valued asset.

“Longer-term, this gives you goals to work towards to achieve future promotions and career progression.”

But Nicole Forton, the director of fellow recruitment agency Robert Half has a different vote.

“Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this role, and how do I measure up? Is there anything that you think is missing from my skillset or level of experience?”

She said this is one of the most important questions to ask because it helps the jobseeker understand any concerns the interviewer might have.

“It’s important to listen carefully to the answer,” she added. “This will give the jobseeker the opportunity to allay any concerns.

“Additionally, the jobseeker should be prepared when the interviewer asks: ‘do you have any more questions?’ When a jobseeker comes prepared with a list of further questions that weren’t addressed during the interview shows the hiring manager their enthusiasm for the role and how much they have researched the position and the company.

“Ideally, the jobseeker will use this interview question to clarify any uncertainties, ask about next steps, and also cover any issues the hiring manager hasn’t already addressed such as the availability of professional development programs or mentoring.”

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