So, you’re in the final interview?

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Barron Williams

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Interview questions for 2nd stage and final interview candidates

I recently had a conversation with a client regarding second stage and final interviews, specifically the ‘what questions do you have for us?’ question to candidates.

As a CEO she has very little time for the stock answers. In her opinion the stronger people are always well prepared with questions around strategy, long term planning and culture, etc.

It demonstrates research, diligence and commitment. 

Her thinking, and I agree 100%, is that it shows they want to work for her organisation. 

As a minimum, doing your homework well is a professional courtesy.

It’s no coincidence that the stronger candidates demonstrate excellent research in the client company, and ask the more challenging questions. It highlights critical thinking and strategic planning ability. 

When you reach the later stages and final interview, you are down to brass tacks…

You’ve already proven you can do the role, so it is time to consider the company you’ll be working for, and potentially challenge the key decision makers.

The ‘what questions do you have for us?’ is also the perfect opportunity to demonstrate a greater knowledge and understanding of the organisation, their industry and to probe their opinion of your fit into that world.

In our experience, it is the questions you ask at this stage that can really make or break a clients’ decision to hire. And my CEO colleague almost relishes this part of the process. 

In fact, it is often the case that the questions you ask them, are as important as your responses to the questions they put to you.

You now have the perfect opportunity to ask questions that will help you make a more informed decision, and to impress the interviewer with your understanding of their organisation, its strategic direction and the wider industry climate. You also need to know if the role is what you want, and the company is good fit for you.

Asking the right questions in a final interview

In terms of the type of questions you should ask, I don’t need to sit and type up a list of examples. There’s a myriad of that type of article, and to be honest, just like the example questions they contain, it’s all a little obvious.

At this level you need to do what you would do if you were planning any business meeting with a client, supplier, or colleague.

You need to ask the sort of specific but open questions that can launch a constructive conversation. A discussion that will help that key decision maker determine if you’re the right fit for them and vice-versa.

Ask questions that will open them up, allow them to reveal more of themselves. They are often the most informative and telling.

Ask questions that will encourage them to offer constructive critical feedback on their organisation. What are they doing well? What are their opportunities for growth? Threats? Weaknesses? Get my drift?

I am yet to meet an MD or CEO in this situation that doesn’t want your viewpoint on who and what they are as an organisation. How you perceive them, and if you hold any apprehension about the role and/or company? It shows you care.

Ask the right type of questions

The types of question you ask at this stage say a lot about you. 

How interested you are in the role? What reservations do you have regarding the role or organisation? How interested are you in the bigger picture or just your own role within the company? 

However, in terms of the specific questions to ask, well that depends on a number of different factors. From the role itself to the personalities of those involved. Listen, observe, and be prepared to adapt in the context of the meeting.

Use your judgement to challenge, constructively of course. It is a conversation.

And be prepared for them to answer your questions with a challenging counter question. 

The ‘why do you ask?’ is a useful retort to dig deeper into your knowledge and understanding.

What are they looking for in the final interview?

For me, a genuine passion for the role, organisation and industry is critical at this stage. You cannot fake enthusiasm. You demonstrate it through the research that you do and the questions you ask.

That said, you wouldn’t get to this stage without first convincing us you were serious!

You are down to the final shortlist of candidates but this could possibly be the first time you meet some of the key decision makers and influencers. 

And whilst they should be fully briefed about you, this is your chance to clearly demonstrate why they should offer you the position.

Sell your most relevant skills and unique experience, use concise examples or ‘war stories’ to demonstrate your match to their needs.

Demonstrate how this position and their organisation fits with your personal career goals and long-term ambition.

Be prepared to explain what you think you can accomplish in the role, the impact you can have on the department and wider organisation, and how you can bring positive influence and change.

Research is critical. Know the company. Know their issues. Be prepared to challenge on their failings – What are you expected to fix?

Demonstrate how you’re an excellent match to the key deliverables and candidate profile requirements identified in the role brief specifically.

Finally, don’t be afraid to tackle any reservations they may have about you, and you about them. This is very much a two-way conversation.

Directly address any mutual reservations and make recommendations about how you both can overcome them.

In short, leave the meeting knowing that they know exactly who and what they’ll be hiring if they hire you (or missing out on if they don’t)!

If you’re looking for your next role, then please feel free to Upload Your CV or Call Us for an exploratory conversation. If you’re looking for a senior executive for your organisation, please use our Client Upload Form or Call Us now.

Barron Williams

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