The Best and Bravest Question to Ask in a Job Interview

UPDATED: November 30, 2016
PUBLISHED: November 30, 2016

What is the one thing everyone wants to know at the end of an interview and yet rarely asks? We want to know how we performed. We want to know if there is anything the interviewer didn’t like about us. That initial post-interview high and sense of relief can, all too easily, change to feelings of uncertainty.

The solution is simple: Ask.

For example, “Having met me, do you think that I am a potential match for this position and do you have any reservations at this stage?”

Asking a decision-maker why they wouldn’t hire you might feel uncomfortable at first, but this question can provide huge benefits and give you an advantage over your competition.

Related: 3 Ways to Answer ‘What Are Your Weaknesses?’ in a Job Interview

Here are some benefits of asking this one question:

1. It gives you a voice.

Leaving an interviewer with no concerns about your match for a role is the ideal conclusion for any interview. By just asking, you might uncover some potential reservations that you will be able to easily counter with additional information or relevant work examples. The average interview lasts between 45 minutes and an hour. A reservation can simply stem from a particular area of experience not being fully discussed and explored during the time set aside for the interview.

2. It demonstrates openness.

Asking for feedback at the end of an interview indicates that you are straightforward, approachable and a good communicator. Individuals who are open to feedback tend to also build good, collaborative work relationships. These are all very attractive employee qualities, especially in the eyes of the person who will be managing you.

3. It highlights your focus on personal development.

Whether an appointment is direct or through a recruitment agency, there is, of course, a cost attached to all new hires. Time and resources are invested in both the interview and onboarding stages. Asking the reservation question highlights a mindset of someone who is proactive and focused on consistent self-improvement. Employing an individual who is likely to develop in a role and within the company provides a strong return on investment for an organization.

Related: 4 Qualities of Breakthrough Employees

4. It reinforces your interest.

Asking this question will emphasize your keen interest in the position. However strong your application or interview might be, conveying a genuine enthusiasm for a position is essential to achieve a successful outcome. No decision-maker wants to extend a job offer to someone who appears less than 100 percent committed. Unenthused candidates are unlikely to accept, or worse, they will join the business and fail to make a strong, active contribution.

5. It shows confidence and professionalism.

How you conduct and portray yourself in an interview paints a picture for the interviewer of how you will present yourself to internal colleagues or external clients. The interviewer will be judging whether you will be a passive employee or a confident, active team participant. It’s worth remembering that the questions you ask in an interview are as revealing as the answers you give.

6. It gives you peace of mind.

Last but not least, asking this question will give you peace of mind. Rather than wondering what impression you made and whether you provided sufficient details, you’ll know you have done everything possible to influence the outcome of the interview.

The interviewer might not be forthcoming with their thoughts. The question might catch them by surprise, or there might simply be nothing to mention. Regardless, this question will impress the interviewer and help deliver a positive interview experience for you.

Related: 12 Ways to Mess Up a Job Interview—and 12 Ways to Ace It

Jenny Hargrave is the founder of InterviewFit, a job-search strategy and interview preparation service that encompasses everything from custom CV writing to company-specific research. She has a particular interest in future professions and the candidate experience within disintermediated recruitment. Her previous experience includes establishing a boutique executive search firm.