When an interviewer asks "Do you have any questions?" at the end of an interview, is it acceptable to ask (as one of a few questions)

How did I perform/do during this interview?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Jun 1 '17 at 22:06
  • Isn't this the job of the recruiter? Get them to follow up immediately. – vikingsteve Jun 2 '17 at 9:12

11 Answers 11

up vote 105 down vote accepted

Should I ask: "How did I perform/do during this interview?"

No.

There is very little upside (if any) to asking this question. If they choose to answer, the reply will probably be very generic, vague and therefore useless.

The employer may have more interviews lined up - and even though you might have done well, perhaps the next two turn out even better.

In addition, during an interview the applicant should display confidence, which asking this question does not.

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    I have been asked that question by many candidates, and I have never seen it as a sign of lack of confidence. To each of those candidates I have explained the process which would be used to evaluate their performance, but I never told them how they did, often I will need to go through my notes before I make up my mind. The advice to display confidence can be taken too far. The candidates who have left me with the worst impression are the overconfident ones. – kasperd May 29 '17 at 14:49
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    It is also possible that they find someone who is similar or a little less talented but MUCH cheaper – Michael Durrant May 30 '17 at 12:46
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    I disagree wholeheartedly with this. When I've been interviewing, I ask this if I actually want the job in order to try and close the deal. – NotMe May 31 '17 at 14:43
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    Has it ever worked? – morsor May 31 '17 at 14:45
  • @morsor: yes, pretty much all of the time. – NotMe Jun 2 '17 at 20:36

To add to the other answers about displaying confidence, there is no upside to this question. As an interviewer myself, I am briefed by my HR not to give any indication of performance at the end of an interview, but simply to outline what happens next in the process, roughly:

My colleague and I will go away and write up our notes, and pass them to HR who will get back to you in a couple of days. If you are successful then ... otherwise ...

The reason we don't give immediate feedback is that it's a no-win situation. It's hard not to give the impression that feedback is an actual decision on progressing to the next stage (especially as both interviewers and candidate are coming out of a somewhat stressful situation, misunderstandings do happen), in which case we may be opening ourselves up to complaints if we later reject someone who hears "yes", and we may lose someone we like if we offer constructive advice and they hear "no".

We do offer constructive feedback to all unsuccessful candidates but only after everyone has had time to go away and reflect on the experience.

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    On my interview last month where I was hired, they told me that "yeah, our impression of you was positive, but the final decision lies with Mr. X (CEO or HR manager or whomever)". To be fair, I didn't talk to HR but to the back-end manager whom I would be working under. – John Hamilton May 29 '17 at 9:23
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    'and we may lose someone we like if we offer constructive advice and they hear "no".' I very much doubt that. And even in the very unlikely event if, if they can't handle constructive advice, that's not good. – smci May 29 '17 at 13:10
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    @smci: Candidates are often applying to multiple places. If your constructive feedback leaves a candidate greatly underestimating the chance that you'll hire them, then they may act on another opportunity. (This is especially the case if you can't necessarily get back to the candidate quickly with a final decision, e.g. if you have a bunch of people you're going to interview for a single position. A candidate might "stall" another opportunity if they think they have a shot at yours, but otherwise they obviously won't.) – ruakh May 29 '17 at 18:33
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    It's a given that candidates are applying to multiple places simultaneously. I've never seen a case where giving a viable candidate constructive feedback affected things negatively. And as a candidate it greatly improves my opinion of the company: there's nothing worse than an aloof interviewer with pet questions who doesn't tell you what they were looking for, but disses your answer, without articulating a reason. And if the interviewer's incapable of expressing criticism constructively and succinctly, then the company's culture may have issues. (How on earth do they do code reviews?) – smci May 30 '17 at 5:19
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    @scmi I take your point - if a candidate gives a good answer to a question I naturally react in a more positive way than if they give a real stinker, or a mediocre one to which I'll probably probe a bit further. And the interview itself is an exercise in building good rapport with the candidate. I was specifically thinking of the "how did I do" question at the very end, which is potentially code for "did I get the job or not" - to which the answer has to be "I can't say, yet". – Julia Hayward May 30 '17 at 8:02

Yes, but change the intent and wording of the question.

There are two good times to ask this question

  • You are changing fields and want to know what the required skills for this change are.
  • You want to counter any doubts that the interviewer might have about you.

Here are two real world examples from my past:

Example 1

Me : "I really enjoy programming and I want to move from academia to software development. You have just interviewed me. What do you think that I need to improve?"

Interviewer : "That's a really good question. The things that you need to improve are ....[List of things that I needed to work on]"

I didn't get that job, but the list was invaluable. I fixed my weaknesses, then aced my next two software developer interviews and got offers from them both.

Example 2

Me : "It's the end of the interview what's your biggest concern?"

Lead Interviewer : "I'm worried about your weakness in skill x"

Me : "Your team is very strong in skill x and you can teach me. This project has a serious computational component and I bring those skills to the group."

(The computational interviewer was quietly nodding in agreement as I said this.)

Lead Interviewer : "You make a very good point"

(I got an offer for that job)

TLDR

Work out what you actually want to achieve with this question. If you want to feel good then don't ask it. If you want real constructive feedback or you want to change their minds then ask away.

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    I left a comment saying similar, but now see it outlined as an answer +1 – Lamar Latrell May 30 '17 at 11:32
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    I do something similar at the end of interviews - it's a great opportunity to get some feedback and a chance to address any concerns the interviewers may have. In fact I'll usually ask something like "are there any concerns I can address" and "what else could I do to really stand out for this job". I've gotten some great career feedback, and several interviewers have later told me that asking for specific feedback shows I'm as interested in improving my skills as actually getting the job, which is a very desirable "soft" skill in a potential employee. – brichins May 30 '17 at 17:25
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    I've done the same. The interviewers like that I was trying to improve my skillset. It was helpful in my second interview where I could say that I have been working on the things they had previously mentioned. – rpmerf May 30 '17 at 20:38
  • This is very valuable advice. Example 2 is particularly illustrative. I'll be using these, thanks! – Wildcard May 31 '17 at 1:08
  • The second scenario is often brought up but while in theory it's a great question, it's very much a "hard sell" one. And the majority of hiring managers are turned off by that kind of aggression. It's often one step below "What were you afraid to ask me?" I'd use it with caution if at all. – Lilienthal Jun 1 '17 at 15:10

At the end of an interview I usually ask a question with quite similar intent but phrased in a more constructive way. Something along the lines of

Now that you know me in person, do you currently have any concerns in hiring me?

The feedback to this question has always been very positive and constructive. The reason I ask such a question is that:

  • it gives me some feedback on how I performed (although you will have to read more between the lines than asking directly),
  • if there have been any misunderstandings regarding my qualification I can address them immediately.

The question also implies that you are confident in being hired without sounding puffed up.

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    Maybe caused by a non optimal translation? English is not my native language. I used that question in several interviews already and received only positive reactions. I ask it more in the spirit of "for me there seems to be no reason not to hire me, what about you?" – sigy May 29 '17 at 11:32
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    I usually ask "do you feel someone with my skills and experience would be a good fit for the role?" - they can pretty much answer yes without saying it in those exact words. – vikingsteve May 29 '17 at 11:46
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    All I hear from your comment is someone saying: "for me, I'm pretty darn perfect, what do you think?". – icc97 May 29 '17 at 11:58
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    @icc97 Yep, but obviously you phrase it so that the other receives it as something between Level River's interpretation and yours ;) – sigy May 29 '17 at 12:03
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    A question like this just makes things awkward. There's no need for it. – Lightness Races in Orbit May 29 '17 at 13:18

I'm sure an HR rep can enlighten you further but, speaking from personal experience, asking about your performance to the person that just assessed you and hasn't even got the time to write down the report on it comes out as being insecure to say the least.

Plus you can see on their body language, face expressions and tone of voice a sign on how they perceived you so it's not really needed to begin with.

Don´t ask how you did - they won´t be able to answer it unless they have seen all candidates, and it is therefore an unreasonable, pushy and naive thing to ask.

Do ask what the next stage is. There may be a second interview or some kind of test before you are hired. You are asking this because you need to know the answer, but it is also an opportunity to look for clues. If the hiring manager can´t be bothered to give you a full answer, you did badly. If he tells you that you will be called back to meet the CEO and / or other managers you did well. If he starts talking about the practicalities of moving for the job (if applicable) you did very well.

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    Even if you're the last candidate, they won't have come to any decision yet and none of the panel will want to give an opinion until they've discussed it between themselves. – David Richerby May 29 '17 at 12:22

NO

Wait for their response. If you're interested in your performance, you may ask them later on in private when you're hired.

If it is about to know whether you get accepted, a good way is to ask when you can expect an answer. A long time usually implies more candidates.

While most other answers have addressed the issue of there probably being more interviewees than yourself and hence their need to discuss all of the candidates before reaching a decision, there are a few other reasons to say "No" here:

  1. Not only can there be multiple interviewees, but there can also be multiple groups of interviewers, even if there is only one interviewee. I have participated in such group interviews where myself and a colleague focus on one particular area (e.g. problem solving), while another group (interviewing the same person at a different time) will focus on a different area (e.g. subject matter skill), while later on a manager will do yet another interview to assess if the candidate is a good fit for the corporate culture. You might do well with one group and lousy with one or more of the other groups. So asking how well you did of one group is useless info if they are unwise / inexperienced enough to share their initial thoughts.

  2. Others have mentioned but it is worth repeating: it is really hard to make that question come off as anything but indicating a lack of confidence.

  3. When an interviewee asks if you have any questions, they are typically wanting to see some indication of active engagement in one's own career path. You don't want to ask about you, you want to ask about the company and the position. This is your chance to find out about the day-to-day feel of the place, corporate policies, career advancement, etc. This is your opportunity to think about what you did and did not appreciate about other positions you have had and try to find out if they do make an offer, are you stepping into a positive situation or into a situation where you already know you would be happier not being in. If you ask how well you did, the interviewee, even if not hearing an implied lack of confidence, might still see it as a negative in that you are wasting this opportunity and perhaps you are not the type of candidate they are look for. Again, as an interviewer, I absolutely thought better of those who had good, thoughtful questions, and likewise thought less of those who had no questions.

Good luck :-)

No, not a good time, they haven't seen all the candidates yet and haven't had time to digest the interview.

It's not the type of questions they mean when they say, "Any questions?", they were hoping to hear if you had questions about the actual job / company.

However, I have been advised that you should look for feedback some time later. As well as giving you possibly valuable information for future interviews, it also reminds them you exist, and shows a bit of enthusiasm.

In some cases, you might ask, after you answered a specific question, whether your answer hit the spot or not. Often, the interviewers sport their best pokerface and they let you talk for a long time, until your mouth gets too dry to carry on.

Like when someone asks you "What is a GoTo?" and you start explaining about it being the High Level Language version of an unconditional jump and continue on explaining how compilers handle it (with the special distinction between single-pass, double-pass and multi-pass compiler, and P-code and all) and how different CPUs handle it on the hardware level. While, in fact, all the interviewer wanted to hear is "A GoTo is considered harmful" (and just that, not your breakdown of the original text which mentions the equivalence of GoTos and "structured programming" on the machine level (not the source code level).

In such a case, you might ask for feedback early on while answering your question, to make sure that you are on the right path. "Is that addressing the point of your question? Should I elaborate, or are you more interested about the effects of GoTos on code maintainability?" It might show that you can regard a problem from different angles and that you can use your communication skills to ensure that you hit your targets with pinpoint accuracy.

Naturally, don't be meek, be confident. And always be prepared not to receive a useful answer, some HR guys are too trained in not giving feedback that they will not give any information or indication to your performance, or they might just say "carry on" because they want to test how long you can carry on, even if your answer goes into a totally different direction than they expected.

Yes and No. I have always made it a point to TACTFULLY ask something like "What challenges would someone with my experience likely run into?". This not only allows the interviewer to bring up any concerns they may have had during the interview but also deficiencies on the resume, etc. It also gives you the chance to rebut their response in a positive way: "I know we didnt get to talk about that much, but my experience with... has given me lots of exposure to...".

And BTW, a little OT, the last response to "Do you have any questions?" should always be "Where do YOU see yourself in 5 years?". I've often found that one answer to be more telling of the company than a stack of annual reports, plus it gets them talking about themselves without you looking like a suck-up.

protected by Lilienthal Jun 1 '17 at 15:11

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