A reader writes:
When the interviewer opens up the floor for questions, is it appropriate to ask approximately how many other people the manager is interviewing for the position?
I would not ask this in interviews for administrative/office positions since the company would presumably have received a couple hundred applications for one position. However, I’m also applying for a lot of positions in food service, and there, more places tend to hire for multiple positions at a time, generally two or three, and I like knowing how many people they plan on interviewing so I can better estimate my chances on receiving a job offer.
Would this question come across as too intrusive and pushy? Or is this a valid piece of information to inquire after?
It’s not that it’s intrusive or pushy, exactly; it’s more that it raises the question of what conclusions you’re planning to draw from the information, and it can be mildly awkward.
The thing is, you say you’re asking because you want to estimate your chances of a job offer, but it doesn’t really work like that. They could be interviewing 15 people, but if you’re a great fit, your chances are better than 1-in-15. And they could be interviewing only two people, but if you’re not a really strong candidate, your chances aren’t 50-50. So it sounds a little naive — because offers aren’t mathematical probability equations — and also slightly lacking in confidence.
So given that, plus the fact that the question doesn’t give you truly useful information, I’d skip it.