when a job candidate asks, “so, what did you think of me?”

A reader writes:

I had a weird situation today when interviewing a candidate and I was hoping to get your read on the situation.

At the end of the interview, he asked us for an on-the-spot evaluation. I forget exactly how he worded it, but something like “What do you think of me so far?”

I nearly did a spit-take because it caught me off guard and quite frankly really rubbed me the wrong way. Fortunately, my boss came up with something about how he had strong analytical skills, which is important to our company.

Does this tactic come off weird to you or am I’m totally overreacting? Why on earth would someone ask that? There’s no way we’re going to say, “Well, you seem really accomplished but we think you might be full of hot air, and you also don’t seem like a team player” to a candidate’s face!

And any advice on how I could respond in a noncommittal manner in the future if a candidate asks this?

Oh yes, I sometimes have candidates do this, and I don’t like it either.

I do think it’s fine for a candidate for say something like, “Do you have any reservations about my candidacy that I could address for you?” That’s different than saying “tell me your assessment of me, right now, on the spot.” It’s saying, “Do you have any concerns that you’re comfortable discussing right now?” That can lead to useful conversations, like “Well, we do ideally want someone with more experience in X, so I need to think about how that would play out” — and it also allows the interviewer to honestly say, “No, I think we have everything we need right now.”

But asking “what’s your take on me?” puts the interviewer on the spot. It’s overly aggressive, and it makes most — not all, but most — interviewers feel uncomfortable. Most people don’t want to announce on the spot if they don’t think someone is a strong candidate, and often the reasons you have reservations aren’t ones you’re going to be up for discussing (like you think the candidate might not be smart enough, or they creeped you out, or they seemed difficult to get along with). Plus, some people actually like to have time to process their thoughts about a candidate, talk with other people who may have also met with the person, and generally pull their thoughts together before coming to any sharable assessment.

So it’s a bad idea.

As for how to respond if this question comes up, I usually say something like this: “I usually like to spend some time reflecting on an interview before making any decisions, but I certainly enjoyed our conversation.” (Although if the candidate is strong, I don’t have any problem telling them that they are; it’s when the person is weaker that I’m annoyed to be put on the spot.)

{ 153 comments… read them below }

  1. Lily in NYC*

    I would be so caught off guard I would say something dumb, like: You have good taste in ties.

  2. Colette*

    I really wonder why someone would ask that. There must be something they’re hoping to get out of it, but I’m not sure what (unless the answer they expect is “You’re perfect!”). It’s not a closing statement (i.e. it’s not asking for the job), and it puts the interviewer in an awkward spot.

    1. LBK*

      I think putting the interviewer in an awkward spot is the point. I suspect the idea is that in a moment of uncertainty, the interviewer is more likely to be candid since they won’t have time to filter their response, so the candidate will be able to get a more honest opinion of how they did.

      Now, whether this is actually effective or not is highly questionable (I’d say it’s not at all) but I can see that being the reasoning used by people who think of interview as a chance to trick someone into giving you a job instead of a business transaction where both parties are trying to find the right match.

    2. Sospeso*

      Hah! I guess I wouldn’t mind hearing, “You’re perfect!” as a stressful interview was winding down. Unlikely as that may be. As far as closing statements go, though, I am not sure asking for the job is any better than asking the question this candidate did. Wouldn’t that put an interviewer on the spot in a similar way?

      Does anyone else remember seeing these suggestions – asking what do you think of me and/or asking for the job at the close of an interview – in job search articles? I am almost certain I have, but can’t remember where… There’s so much bad advice out there.

      1. Colette*

        Totally agree that asking for the job also puts the interviewer on the spot – but I can more easily understand why someone would do that.

        1. Sospeso*

          Same. I also think it may have been more of a norm to ask for the job back in the day (to hear my parents talk about their first jobs fresh out of college)?

          1. Adam*

            I’ve seen that advice too.

            “If you want the job, ask for it!”

            Err…so apparently submitting an application, getting dressed up, and taking time out of my day to talk to complete strangers wasn’t a sufficient expression of interest? Should I say “Pretty please” as well?

            1. Kelly L.*

              I remember hearing this about a candidate for election once, too. I don’t remember the details and it was probably in a self-help book or something. Basically, this candidate gave a stump speech and met one of the voters and talked at length about what s/he wanted to do in office, etc., and in the end, the voter didn’t vote for them because “you didn’t ask for my vote.” I was thinking that the signs saying “Vote for Wakeen!” and the stump speech would have implied the question! I wonder if this is some kind of social norm from the past. It doesn’t seem to translate currently.

              1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                The principle applies in sales. Always ask for the sale! But, in 2015, ……… you don’t say “May I have the sale please?” or “What would it take to get you in this pretty purple Camaro today?”

                Well, “you” might but tasteful people don’t.

                Asking for the sale is a first, a mindset and after that, can be little things you do or say that conveys to the other person how genuinely you’d like to work with them on their XYZ project, how you understand their needs, how prepared you are to take care of what they need, and what the next steps are you’ll take as soon as you get the go ahead.

                Would that translate into “asking for the job”? Some of it, probably, although it’s a much more directive process in sales than is likely appropriate for most job interviews. Conveying enthusiasm, an understanding of the other person’s needs and confidence that you can be a solution is would be part of that that would transfer.

                1. Audiophile*

                  I got those questions when I was buying my first car. “What would it take to get you in this Civic today?” I finally, firmly, said, “nothing. I will not be buying a car today.I ‘m just here to test drive it and make sure the price is to my liking.” But it took more than once.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I always figured if I was perfect for the job the interviewer would have told me and there was no need to ask. ha!
        But the truth is that there have been interviews that went great, really terrific. And I did not get the job. There are a lot of “perfect” people out there.
        I remember that advice about asking for the job. I never did it. I felt that by submitting an app and going to the interview that was enough asking. If I had to ask for the job, on top of already asking for the job, this was probably not a company for me.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I’ve been involved in a lot of hiring, and I’ve never come across a situation in which candidate A is equal to or better than candidate B, but candidate B “asks for the job” and then we decide that we should hire candidate B because candidate A didn’t ask for it.

    3. fposte*

      I’m wondering if sometimes it’s not a calculated tactic but just the early version of the people who want to call right away to find out about the status of their candidacy. “Did I do all right? Did you like me? Am I going to be considered?”

      1. Anon just for this*

        That’s exactly what it sounds like to me. They’re just seeking approval. It might not be appropriate, but it’s definitely understandable.

      2. Traveler*

        This is the impression I got. Especially since they said “so far”, that doesn’t sound like the bad job interview closing techniques, just someone who is nervous about their candidacy. I can see why someone would be tempted to ask, or possibly even slip and ask if the interview was particularly conversational in nature. Still check yourself before you wreck yourself and all that.

    4. Adam*

      My guess: it’s a tactic boneheaded job search “gurus” instill in fresh-faced college grads along with things like “Be super aggressive! Sell yourself! Sneak past the gate keeper (i.e. the Admin Asst.)!”

      I read that book online back when I was getting ready to graduate school and it made me think I’d never get a decent job because I had to become a used car salesman/sneak thief in spirit to get one.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        That’s exactly what it was the one time I asked a variation on that question. I was fresh out of school, desperate for a job, and really wanted THAT job, so I was willing to do anything an “expert” told me to. Based on the interviewers’ reactions, I’m pretty sure that was the moment I fell out of the running.

        1. Adam*

          I’m so glad I found AAM. I listened to those self-proclaimed experts for a while too, and while I don’t think it cost me any opportunities (just getting an interview at the time was a miracle akin to walking on water), it definitely drained my confidence about my prospects.

      2. OfficePrincess*

        That’s exactly what it was the one time I asked a variation on that question (sort of a cross between “how did I do” and “do you have any concerns”). I was fresh out of school, desperate for a job, and really wanted THAT job, so I was willing to do anything an “expert” told me to. Based on the interviewers’ reactions, I’m pretty sure that was the moment I fell out of the running.

        1. Lauren*

          Completely agree with you both! On LinkedIn today I saw an open ended question about how to prepare for a phone interview. A guy posted an 18 point list of things you ‘must’ do on a phone interview from ‘The Essential Phone Interview Handbook’ by Paul Bailo. Some gems include:

          1. Do not accept the first offer for a time for a phone interview. If they say 1 pm then you say 2 pm. If they say Monday then you say Tuesday. Check the time zone for you and the interviewer and make sure the time is good. Get email address.

          2. Call the 24 hours before the interview to confirm the time. Ask where the focus of the interview will be. “Hello_____, my name is Perla. I wanted to confirm our scheduled appointment for tomorrow at ______. My phone number is _______. ________ I know that you’re very busy, and I was wondering what you would like to focus on during this interview?” If you get the secretary then ask about ______ likes/dislikes. Get email address.

          7. Pick up the phone at the proper time. Wait for the 2nd or 3rd ring. If you miss the third ring then wait for the voicemail. Get a story right on why you didn’t call and immediately call back and explain. If the interviewer is 15 minutes or more late for the phone interview then do not answer the phone. Wait for voicemail and then call back one hour later and say “Hello _____, I’m sorry I missed your call. I understood we were to begin our phone conversation at _____ but when it reached ______ I assumed something had come up and I _____ instead. Unfortunately I am busy this afternoon but I am interested in rescheduling our phone interview. When is good for you?”

          8. Ask questions like, ” If I am hired and I perform well, to which other opportunities might this job lead?” and “How do my skills compare with those of the other candidate you have interviewed?”

          16. Mail a hand written thank you letter 24-48 hours after the thank you e-mail. Use highest quality paper with raised lettering. Short and simple: “Dear _____, Thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely, Perla Campos.”

          15. Send a thank you e-mail 24-48 hours after the interview.

          17. Mail an interesting news article about the company that you found 24-48 hours after the thank you letter.

          18. Call to find out the status of the phone interview 24-48 hours after sending the news article.

          1. Sospeso*

            Hah! #2 is my favorite. What likes and dislikes would I possibly tell a candidate about prior to an interview over the phone? And how would they work it into the conversation organically?

            It could be fun for someone to work their way down this list just to see a potential employer’s reaction.

            1. INTP*

              Imagine the poor receptionist being grilled about the interviewer’s likes and dislikes. I would probably think it was a stalker!

            2. BananaPants*

              “I like pina coladas. And getting caught in the rain.”

              Seriously, this list is SO BAD. Anyone attempting even half of that with me is getting their resume chucked in the proverbial cylindrical file.

            1. Adam*

              On a second read I think this too was part of the online job hunting book nearly-out-of-college me read. I wish I could find that thing so I could display its horribleness for all to see. It had little cartoons in it. The universal representation for the Admin Assistant was surly blob of a woman who looked like she feasted on goats who wandered over bridges. It was ridiculous.

          2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            You know what this reminds me of?

            Really bad sales advice. I think these people moonlight churning out terrible advice to would be sales people also. There’s so much of it around and good god, it was hoary in 1985, and I still read it spoken with authority.

            Actual and real sales people who craft a good living career selling never use those crap tactics.

            I think maybe the ones who fail then try to sell crap sales tactics to the impressionable. Or something.

            1. fposte*

              I just picture all these poor people sitting by their phone and sweating it out to make sure they pick up precisely between the second and third ring. On the other hand, I believe 15, 16, 17, and 18 are in there purely to make your head explode :-).

              This is the sublime example of an article written by somebody who hasn’t tried these and either was completely convinced because of that or just needed to put stuff in the article.

            2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              Do you ever wonder if the people giving bad advice make more money at that than good advice people do?

              The bad advice is more seductive because it’s “easier” and has some kind of magic incantation quality about it.

              Before calling:

              1) spin 3 times in your chair
              2) touch your nose twice, in rapid succession
              3) make sure you wear your lucky socks

              You will be sure to be successful! (What, you weren’t? You must not have spun hard enough. )

              You write the good advice out more accessibility than most other sources but still, it’s not nearly as easy to learn and apply best practices as it is to follow this crap.

              Grrr. Snake oil charlatans. They can’t believe what they are writing because it doesn’t work!

          3. PoorDecisions101*

            Yeah, terrible advice, anyone on LinkedIn Job Seeker Premium, if you see this thread, please add your dissent in case the poor person asking for advice actually decides to act on this.

            I just saw this one a moment ago too.

            1. Lauren*

              I was trying to point out some of the flaws in the reasoning in the thread over at LinkedIn Job Seeker Premium, but it was a pile on. A lot of people loved the advice and thought it made them look ‘desirable’. Sigh.

          4. Merry and Bright*

            #1 reminds me of the dating Rules where you weren’t supposed to accept a weekend date after Wednesday.

          5. F.M.*

            This book… is comedy gold.

            In the section explaining how to turn unexpected interruptions into positives:
            Suppose there’s a crying baby in the background. You might say something like, “It seems my baby woke up a bit early today. Do you have any children? My son is three months old and is just getting used to sleeping in a crib. Guess he hasn’t adapted very well–unlike his dad. One of my key attributes is adaptability.”

      3. INTP*

        I hate the gate keeper junk! For everyone in the hiring process, there is less work the more quickly a candidate is hired. Assistants and recruiters and HR people have no personal interest in keeping qualified candidates away from a hiring manager fercrissakes. Why do people think this is happening?

    5. INTP*

      I assume they want to know whether they have a good chance at the job and should get their hopes up or not, but it’s a really bad idea in any case. An interviewer is probably not going to give you an honest answer to that question. For one, their personal opinion might not even be relevant to the hiring decision. Two, you’ve put them on the spot with a loaded question and they are more concerned with protecting themselves against a defensive or litigious candidate than with giving you an honest assessment of your candidacy (and you raise questions about your sense of propriety and boundaries just by asking a question like that, making them even more concerned). I like Alison’s wording about asking if there are any concerns about your candidacy that you could address – that’s less confrontational as it gives the interview an easy out to say “nope, no concerns” and comes across as asking about their evaluation of how your experience and skills match the position rather than for an opinion about yourself as a person.

      It’s another situation where job searching can compare to dating – interviewees particularly tend to be as emotionally invested in the process as people are in dating. Imagine being asked “So, what do you think of me?” at the end of a first date. You’d probably feel on-the-spot, a little defensive, concerned that an honest answer might lead to a confrontation. Interviewers will feel the same.

  3. Sospeso*

    My guess is that the candidate’s primary goal with the, “What do you think of me?” question isn’t to throw the manager off guard, but to get useful feedback. However, that obviously exactly what happened.

    I will say that some of the managers I’ve asked the second question of – “Do you have any reservations about my candidacy that I could address for you?” – even seem put off by that. I like to see interviews become a natural sort of give-and-take. And usually, with both sides having the chance to ask thoughtful questions and listen to the responses, I find that I have a good feel for how the interview is going. However, the instances where I have asked this is when I found that the manager was asking questions/follow-up questions that were overly rote instead of really digging in, or where I felt like the questions weren’t allowing me to talk about my fit for the position and company. I think part of the reason managers are put off by the question is because – with some exceptions, of course – many people still approach interviews as something where one person (interviewer) has most of the power and the other person (interviewee) has none. The more put off the manager is by the question, the more I wonder whether other aspects of their management style would be a good fit for me.

    1. Zahra*

      Usually, I got “Oh, that’s a great question! Let me think about it for a moment.” Which is fine, because not many people do ask that question. I rarely got people who were put off by the question, but certainly quite a lot of them were caught off guard.

        1. Sospeso*

          Yes, I’ve gotten a couple of those kinds of responses, which usually makes me more interested in working with that person! (I can ask a lot of questions, so if they’re put off in the interview stage… not a good sign for a potential working relationship.)

    2. Barney Stinson*

      I completely agree with this. The one time I tried this question, the hiring manager ended the conversation immediately, kicked me out, and called me at the first opportunity to tell me I was not considered a candidate any longer.

      I hadn’t thought much of him during the interview; he came off as weak and passive. So I didn’t mind the brush off.

      It did make me very cautious about using it again, though.

    3. Hermoine Granger*

      I don’t think I’ve ever had any hiring managers react badly to that question though a good amount just answer “no”.

      However, I’ve had a few hiring managers who were puzzled about me wanting to ask them questions. I had an interview a few years ago with one of the owners of a small company. There was a 10-minute assignment at the start of the interview and then she asked me a few questions about my experience and then started wrapping up the interview. She was shell shocked when I told her that I had a few questions for her as well. She somewhat answered them but then asked, “who told you to ask those questions?” To which I replied that I nobody told me to ask those specific questions but I thought they were a good way to assess my fit for the position / company. Needless to say, she wasn’t too pleased and I didn’t get the job. Oh well.

    4. Sam*

      The only time I felt uncomfortable with the “do you have any reservations” question was when I wasn’t expecting it, and I did have reservations about the candidate that he was not going to be able to overcome at that point in the interview. I didn’t want to just say “no” to imply I had no reservations at all, but I wasn’t about to get in to the reasons I had excluded this candidate at that point in the interview.

      1. illini02*

        That kind of speaks to the problem. You want honesty and all of that when you spring whatever random question you can think of that the person isn’t expecting, but when you get it then you are uncomfortable. Its a bit ridiculous no?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Why is it ridiculous? Expecting candor and good faith during a conversation intended to determine someone’s fit for the job isn’t at all the same thing as putting someone on the spot and demanding that they speak potentially insulting truths about you.

      2. Soharaz*

        In unsuccessful interviews where I’ve asked that question, the interviewer usually just says ‘Actually, we’ve got everything we need at this stage, but thank you.’ It sidesteps telling them the things you don’t like as well as telling them you have no reservations and getting their hopes up.

    5. Soharaz*

      I’ve asked the second question too. I ended up getting offered the job in the interview and then *I* was the one who was a bit put on the spot and flustered! I think the difference between the two questions is that one is actually meant to be putting them on the spot, but the other seems more collaborative, like you’re trying to make sure that they’re satisfied with the information they have to make their decision.

  4. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

    “Do you have any reservations about my candidacy that I could address for you?” seems like a GREAT line, but as to “what do you think of me?” that is just opening up a can of worms- though it feels like something I’d end up blurting out if I got panicked and tried to articulate the former.

    1. Sospeso*

      Love the name! And I have found this is definitely a question worth practicing before the potential stress of an interview :)

    2. EarlGrey*

      exactly, it sounds like something said out of nervousness or scrambling for a good closing line…I’d be afraid to ask for feedback in case it came out that blunt and awkward!

    3. Relly*

      Ha, I was going to say something similar. I could definitely see myself saying “so what did you think of me” out of panic as a way to conclude the interview.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think I’d actually say that… but that’s certainly what I’d be thinking!

    2. A Kate*


      “Although if the candidate is strong, I don’t have any problem saying that; it’s when the person is weaker that I’m annoyed to be put on the spot.”

      I simply can’t imagine a strong candidate asking that question in that way. And if they did, for me that would move them out of the “strong” category and into the “good qualifications, but I have serious concerns about her judgment and interpersonal skills” category.

  5. Jillyan*

    Yup, they pretty much gave me the same advice during my college career center visit. Thankfully, I’ve never asked anyone so bluntly what they thought of me. Having done interviews now, most concerns aren’t really formulated until after a candidate leaves. That’s just my experience…

  6. Chriama*

    I guess this would really depend on how the question was asked, but I’m leaning on the side of over-eager ignorance rather than aggression or pushy sales tactics. I feel like a candidate asking these things is wondering how they ‘scored’ on the interview.

  7. OP*

    Thanks for answering my question Alison! I am relieved to hear that you feel the same way.
    I mentioned the situation to my SO and he said it is basically a sales tactic, that he’s trying to “close the deal.” Honestly it did the opposite – I had mixed feelings about the candidate but it definitely tipped the scale towards “no.” Aggressive personalities don’t work well at our company.

    1. The Toxic Avenger*

      OP – that phrase “spit-take” is a winner! :) Thank you for the update. I have done a ton of interviewing myself, and I always disliked that approach, big time.

      I did interview someone recently, though, who answered a question, paused, then asked me, “Am I on the mark, here? Are these answers providing enough information and context?” That approach I DID appreciate. It was also the way she asked it – she was genuinely concerned that she was providing quality data, not rambling, etc.

      1. Sospeso*

        Oooh, I like that approach. Could be good to use if you ever get a blank look from an interviewer. After all, some questions are so broad, you can answer them a number of ways and maybe not address the interviewer’s concern.

    2. illini02*

      I guess I don’t see why it would tip the scale at all. I’m not saying you, but some interviewers really don’t like to be questioned all that much for things outside of “Expected” questions. I don’t necessarily see that as an aggressive personality either (not saying they weren’t, because this is one data point), but its a fair question to want to know what you thought. Is it fair for an inteviewer to ask “what do you think of the office culture you experienced?” If thats fair, I don’t know why the opposite isn’t.

      1. fposte*

        It’s not about fair or unfair, though, it’s about what’s likelier to get you the job. (And I wouldn’t ask anybody what they thought of the office culture after only a few minutes for the same reason.) This doesn’t increase your chances, and it’s probably being sold someplace as if it did.

    3. INTP*

      I can see its usefulness as a sales tactic in theory – you ask the person something they’d feel pressured to give a knee-jerk positive reaction to, and then they look like a hypocrite if they don’t buy what you’re selling. But with hiring, as with dating, there’s another easy way for them to avoid looking like a hypocrite – just never following up with you. So I don’t see it working in this context.

  8. John*

    “Well, Hortense, you look like a slob, dress like a stripper and your personality compels me to retreat from mankind. Well be in touch after we reach a decision…”

  9. Lucy Honeychurch*

    I actually asked this question, more or less, during one of my college interviews…so I definitely get the impulse to ask, because you want to know how you did!
    It was an alumnus interviewer, though, so very casual, and also I was 17!
    (I ended up getting into the college, but not attending)

  10. Gobrightbrand*

    I’ve asked this question in interviews before, I’m not sure exactly how I worded it. Maybe I said, “Do you think my skills align with what you need for this role?” Or maybe I just directly said, “Do you think I’m a strong candidate for this role?”

    I never thought about it as putting the interviewer on the spot or that it was a weird thing to ask. I guess that’s good to know for future purposes. But in the times that I know that I did that it seemed like a natural summary question to the conversation and in one case I know I was the second choice to the person they gave the position to and in the other I got the job. An the time I was the second choice, they reached back out to me after that hire didn’t work out to see if I was still interested.

    For what it’s worth…

  11. luna*

    I got asked “what do you think of me?” on a first date once! Definitely fits with the dating=job search parallel!

    1. Windchime*

      I got this, too. It was all I could do to not say, “I’m very distracted by your strange teeth.”

      1. shep*

        Oh my goodness, yes! I had a guy flood me with overly effusive compliments and then say something to the effect of, “So we’re doing this again, right?”

        My deer-in-headlights reaction was a muted, “Sure,” but the truth was that I wasn’t keen on a second date at all. Admittedly, I have a hard time being gracefully honest in the face of someone I am about to disappoint, but OMG could you have put me on the spot any more than you did?!

        Also he was several years older than me but reminded me of a puppy. And who wants to kick a puppy?

        I feel for interviewers put on the spot by this type of question. I know I wouldn’t handle it well if I weren’t expecting it. I might manage to say the right deflective things, but it would invariably be with the wrong tone as I struggled to make sure the words were gentle enough.

  12. Anonymous Educator*

    I think a lot of this comes from ignorance. I know a lot of perfectly reasonable people who do all sorts of unreasonable things in their job searching process because that’s what they think they’re “supposed” to do (either from reading it somewhere or hearing from a parent).

    I honestly might be tempted to do those things, too, except that I’ve been involved on the hiring end, so I know what makes no sense to do.

  13. skepticalacademic*

    I attempted a version of ““Do you have any reservations about my candidacy that I could address for you?” once and it felt awkward to ask, and it seemed like the interviewers felt awkward as well. I’ve never dared to try it again. I’m usually pretty comfortable in interviews, too.

    1. Adam*

      Yeah that happened to me once too. Honestly though that was for an internal position with someone I knew already as a co-worker, and I get the feeling they were interviewing me mainly out of courtesy.

  14. illini02*

    I don’t know if I agree. I mean, I’ve definitely had companies essentially ask the same thing. I don’t know that is any less appropriate for them to do it than an interviewer. I get that the wording may not be right, but essentially its the type of thing thats nice to know. Lets be real, sometimes people know by the end of an interview that they aren’t hiring someone. If thats the case, whats wrong with getting that out there right away and not waste anyone’s time. Again, the wording I could see being a bit terse (although I don’t know why that would rub you the wrong way) but the general sentiment seems like a very valid question. I assume people who disagree will say something about how “those are dynamics” and “interviewers don’t owe people explanations”, but I do think its a fair question.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Because you’re putting the interviewer in a situation where to answer your question, they might need to say:
      – you don’t seem smart enough
      – your manner is off-putting
      – you’re a blowhard

      It’s not reasonable to expect that interviewers should need to have that conversation on the spot or at all. And there’s no need to get an instant answer about how you did.

      1. Kelly L.*

        This. It’s inherently just a lot more personal than, say, an interviewer asking if you have any more questions about the company.

      2. Z*

        You’re expecting people to answer questions about their job history, what they know about the company, etc. Why can’t interviewers be expected to answer questions with potentially hard answers? You want this person to spend 8 hours a day at your company and they just gave up a significant amount of their time coming to talk with you.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s not about potentially hard answers. It’s about putting someone in a position where the only way to answer your question is to insult you.

        2. Anonymous Educator*

          Your job history and what you know about their company inform their hiring position. How they respond to you asking what they think about you after the interview shouldn’t have any bearing on whether you take the job or not.

          Really, there’s nothing to be gained by getting an answer to this question.

          Suppose they say, “We liked you a lot. We thought you were great!” So… now what? Do you think they’re going to offer you the job? Doesn’t sound like it necessarily. Does it mean you would take the job if offered it? I don’t see how that answer would help. Never mind that even if they don’t like you, they’re probably not likely to say so, because 1) you put them on the spot, 2) you might get angry and argue with them about it, 3) as Alison mentioned, some of the things they might not like about you are extremely rude to say out loud to someone.

        3. INTP*

          The hard questions asked by either side should be relevant to whether the candidate is a fit for a job and vice versa. “What do you think of me?” is socially awkward and intrusive feeling for no reason, because you don’t really glean any information that would help you make a decision. You would find out whether they thought you were a good fit for the job eventually anyways.

          Questions like “What is your least favorite thing about working for Chocolate Teapots Inc.?” or “What do you think is the biggest challenge for the Chocolate Teapot Designer role” might be annoying and tough for the interviewer but can at least be justified by the fact that you get information that is helpful to your decision if they are answered honestly. Not so when you ask for an opinion of yourself.

      3. illini02*

        I guess I don’t see though why an interviewer can’t be expected to give diplomatic answers as an interviewee is. If they asked why you left your last job, you have to give a diplomatic answer, even if the reason is that your boss is crazy. As an interviewee you can be probed, prodded, thrown off guard all they want, but if you throw a manager off guard than you come off bad? That just perpetuates the “I’m in charge and you need to cower to me” thought.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          But it’s not just that. It’s everything else I explained in my answer — that you might want time to formulate your thoughts and talk to others, that you might not be great at giving an easily articulable answer on the spot, etc. And I suspect you’re going to say “well, that’s true of interview questions too,” but this is really in an entirely different category.

          But I’d certainly have the exact same issue with an interviewer who asked a candidate, “If we offered you the job, would you accept it?”

          1. illini02*

            Well thats fair if you would have that same issue with the interviewer. I have DEFINITELY had that question, and while it puts me on the spot, it didn’t make me think less of the company (I took the job when it was offered later)

    2. Adam*

      I think you could consider it analogous to asking an interviewer for honest feedback on your presentation after they’ve rejected you for a position. Some may be willing to to provide you help, but many won’t because some candidates think doing so opens the window for them to argue against the rejection rather than just take in criticism and say thank you.

      Even if an interviewer really likes you so far, at this stage they probably haven’t made up their minds yet and saying anything otherwise could lead to false expectations. And if they have decided already that they don’t think you’re a good fit the question puts them in the position of opening the door to a conversation that wouldn’t be productive to have.

  15. Z*

    I dunno, it’s not the best worded question, but I feel like people need to ask more aggressive questions. Interviewees are taught that they’re supplicants but you’re interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.

      1. Z*

        Yeah, but I don’t think your answer really addresses that fact. I feel like interviewers need to buck up a little instead of always interviewees worrying about how to put other people at ease, because believe me they get more than enough of that type of advice. Instead of people going, wow, this person made me think a little harder, therefore I’m not going to hire them, the default needs to be a conversation of equals.

          1. Windchime*

            Yeah, I mean–we would all be really put-off if an interviewer said to a candidate, “So, what is your opinion of me after we’ve spent this time together?” What is the candidate supposed to say? “You seem great” could be one answer, but other answers could be similar to those that Alison posted earlier:

            –You seem bat-sh*t crazy and I wouldn’t work for you if you were the last boss on earth
            –Your manner is very off-putting
            –You seem to know less about the industry than I do

            It just seems like a question that is designed to force someone to answer in a positive way, even if they don’t necessarily want to.

            1. Vancouver Reader*

              And as Adam mentioned above, they may need to consult other interviewers and answering that question could lead to a whole other conversation that puts the interviewers off schedule. Plus, what if the interviewer did say something positive, is the interviewee going to take that as a sign they got the job when it could be they seemed nice, but don’t have as much experience as the next nice person who got an interview.

    1. Sospeso*

      I agree that it makes sense to approach the interview like you’re interviewing the company as well, and for me personally, I find the interview process to be much less defeating that way.

      That being said, I think that approach works best when you have the option to decide whether you’d like to work there or not. From what the OP said in his/her follow-up comment, because the candidate’s question is being interpreted as so aggressive, he may not get a job offer. In that scenario, he can still interview and evaluate the company, certainly… it just won’t have much bearing on this particular job.

      Like most things, I think there’s got to be a middle ground, where you can still make sure that the *company* is a good fit for *you* without alienating the interviewer in the process. Sometimes I have trouble finding that middle ground in the job search process, though. What do you think, Z?

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Well, of course there is a middle ground. You ask questions about the company. You observe how they interact with each other and how they communicate with you. Asking how the interviewer thought of you post-interview isn’t really making sure the company is a good fit for you. It’s just sort of an awkward question…

    2. INTP*

      But this isn’t even a question that is relevant to assessing the company as a place where you might want or not want to work. You’re asking them for an opinion about yourself, not asking tough questions about the company.

    3. Sam*

      I LOVE when candidates ask challenging questions, especially those that make me think about the company, how we fit in to the marketplace, our culture and values, etc. When I answer the question and the candidate shows he is really listening and we end up in a meaningful dialogue (instead of “ok, now the second question is [something I just explained had the candidate been listening to the answer to the first question]) that can be the best part of the interview.
      But that doesn’t tend to happen when it starts with the “How did I do?” type of question. There are certainly exceptions, (and I’m not going to roll the dice to find out if it’s going to be this candidate, right now) but the majority of the time this conversation starts, if the candidate was questionable, or probably not a good fit, it doesn’t end well. It turns into an awkward argument about why there are reservations about the candidate, and by the end, if you were on the fence, you’re definitely not hiring them now. If you liked them (or don’t and don’t want to tell the truth), and say “you were great” and then they’re not hired, they write in to AAM and say “They offered me a job on the spot, and I quit my job and now three weeks have gone by and I haven’t heard a word, this company is the worst!”

  16. DrPepper Addict*

    I had always heard at the end of an interview that it was fine to ask “Did I answer all of your questions fully and did I raise any reservations about my ability to perform the job that I can address?” I did this in an interview, and after the word “fully” I paused and took a breath and both interviewers jumped right in and said “Yes. Haha, are you asking how well your interview went?” Then one mockingly said in a voice that was supposed to be imitative of mine “Did I do ok?” They totally cut me off before I could finish what I was saying and was mortified that that’s how they took the question I was asking. I didn’t go back and say what I was intending to say because it would have involved telling them they interrupted me, which would have seemed rude. Didn’t get the job, no surprise there.

    All that to say, perhaps this guy just worded his question poorly and it’s as Allison suggested, he was inviting the opportunity to address any weaknesses you perceived.

    1. Sospeso*

      Ughh, I don’t think I would have wanted to work in that kind of environment after that kind of reaction (unless I am mistakenly reading their reactions as being flippant and mocking). Did you still want the job after that, if you don’t mind my asking?

    2. Adam*

      Sheesh. I think the rudest thing an interviewer’s done to me is lose interest to extended periods of staring out the window. It was a group interview so she could get away with easier, but if anyone had openly mocked me I would have turned all shades of red, which since I have red hair and the pale white English skin looks all sort of amusing.

      I think you dodged a bullet there.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      If they are willing to do that on an interview, what are they willing to do once you work there? Usually, there is a courtship period and a honeymoon period. These folks were going to skip all that and head straight for the divorce.

  17. DrPepper Addict*

    It did seem a bit insulting at the moment but I did still want the job because it was a dream job in a dream industry that I would have loved. Looking back I think it was just a poor attempt at humor and friendly teasing but completely inappropriate for the situation.

    1. Sospeso*

      I could totally see that. Finding the balance between personable and professional can be tough when you’re interviewing. I found I had to be slightly more serious/less smiley than I usually am in order to keep interviews on track.

  18. Another Steve G*

    It’s old-fashioned-salesy but I wouldn’t knock an otherwise decent candidate if they asked me this. Especially for sales jobs.

  19. ComputerGeek*

    I usually include something close to the following…

    “Given what you know about me, do you think I’m a good fit for your culture?”

    I’ve also asked my own questions designed to let me make that decision, as well.

    With my current job, my manager wrapped up the interview by letting me know where I stood. He said he definitely wanted to invite me back to meet the team, and they would be moving forward to me if I were interested. That was one of the selling points for this job: my manager’s openness and candor.

  20. Vicki*

    This is the candidate’s version on “So, what do you think of the job / company so far?” that too many interviewers ask.

  21. Paul*

    I do a variation of this in job interviews that (I think) work well for me. At the end of the interview, I usually ask “We spent a long time chatting about the business. I think you know a bit about me as well. Since you know the role and what you’re looking for a lot more than I do, can you think of any good reasons why this may NOT be a good fit? I’d like to know if there are”. It brings out any objections the hiring manager may be harboring and I at least get a chance to address it.

    Is this a good idea? Or is it just a placebo effect for me that I think it helped, but in reality doesn’t, and may have hurt some of my chances?

    Thanks everyone.

    1. Call Me Maybe*

      That seems closer to Alison’s suggested question (“Do you have any reservations about my candidacy that I could address for you?”) – I think her wording is better, but the intention seems to be the same. Whether it helps or not, who knows! But it won’t hurt in the same way the other question is likely to, at least.

  22. Katie the Fed*

    I prefer to just slide a note across the table:

    “Do You Like Me? Check:
    _Need a second interview”

    1. Chriama*

      Now I’m thinking of this old country song that goes “Do you like me, do you wanna be my friend…. check yes or no”.

      1. Audiophile*

        Or “How Do You Like Me Now?”

        If the interviewer knows the next verse, I’d say it’s a good fit all around.

  23. Joey*

    I have three versions:

    1. You’re strong, but we still have interviews lined up.

    You have good x, but we’re looking for someone like y

    You definitely bring some things to the table, but we have a number of good candidates so i need some time to talk with my team

    1. SenatorJPO*

      Joey knows what’s up! An unfazed winner in the face of spontaneous likability questions. You the Man!

  24. SenatorJPO*

    First off, the spontaneous request for feedback on one’s self-presentation is intended to generate a stronger emotional response and therefore make the candidate more memorable.

    Unfortunately, many commenters here claim that emotive response is disgust, repulsion, hate, etc. That’s really your fault, as an interviewer, for being so easily offended!

    I believe people in human resources should have thicker emotional skin. You get paid to choose winners and losers, but cannot even stomach it when someone asks for an extemporaneous emotional response to his or her likability.

    You slugs cannot completely disguise your body language. That’s why some interviewees will spring the likability question on you despite knowing full and well that you cringe at the prospect of working in the same organization as that ill-fated candidate.

    Winners aren’t fazed by sudden questions of likability! I’ve reason to believe human resources people tend to have poor self-esteem because they’re saddled with the guilt of consigning hundreds of people to a lower standard of living than the person they ultimately hire for a given position. How does denying the futures of 1,000+ people every year NOT take a psychic toll? Most human resources people are sociopaths! THAT’S WHY!!!

    Getting back to the main subject: I played the “how do you see me stacking up” card a few times — after fruitlessly interviewing for 2 years and therefore losing inhibitions to riskier interview behaviors — and always received the response, “We have to finish reviewing all candidates to see who we want to interview in the second round.”

    And when I called a week later to ask when I can come in for a second interview, each interlocutor become audibly agitated and claimed, “I’m not responsible for scheduling that! Our HR person will reach out, if interested.”

    Because there’s no way for an outsider to know the overall interview schedule or complexity of hiring procedures, those excuses are an effective stonewall against the candidate who demands a dialogue over his qualifications occurs right then and there.

    It is rather telling, however, that each time at least one of the several interviewers “was all out of business cards” when I asked at the conclusion of the first-round interview. Yeah, right! I might be used to being judged harshly and treated as if I have no economically or socially redeeming value, but I ain’t stupid!

    My point is that a lot of candidates have nothing to lose when they ask intrusive questions because they already see the unenthusiastic or anxious body language of interviewers. Why should I be punished for social awkwardness, when you people (in HR) won’t even give me the feedback that could guide me towards improvement on my social cues? EH?!?

    Unfortunately, it IS my problem if the interviewers have personality quirks that prejudice them against me — because it’s MY future we’re deciding by committee! That has never turned out well; no one wants a good future for SenatorJPO.

    And it’s all because of you turds in human resources! You ought to be replaced by robots. Sure, they’ll be programmed by people, but they’re easier to control than are people.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m not sure why you’re assuming you’re hearing from HR people here; it’s been more heavily hiring managers on this post, not HR.

      But we don’t call people slugs or sociopaths or turds here. That’s rude and doesn’t speak well of you. Please don’t do that again. You need to talk to people civilly here, or not participate at all.

      Employers aren’t “consigning hundreds of people to a lower standard of living than the person they ultimately hire for a given position.” Employers aren’t responsible for the livelihoods of everyone they interview. What an odd claim.

      And interviewers aren’t responsible for giving job candidates feedback on social cues. Managers are, once they’re working with someone, but not in interviews with people they may never see again. That’s not how it works.

      1. SenatorJPO*

        Thanks for the response, Alison! You made my day for responding. And for that, I won’t use juvenile language to refer to practitioners of your profession on this website. Have an awesome evening!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not sure where this “thicker skin” bit is coming from. It’s not that hiring managers are overly sensitive and offended. They’re just not impressed. When you ask that question, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. All people here commenting who have been or are in hiring positions are saying is that asking this question makes your candidacy worse.

      1. OP*

        Exactly, Anonymous Educator. I wasn’t offended, I was surprised and unimpressed. Big difference. The only time a candidate has really offended me was when one made a racist joke.

        And to clarify I’m not in HR (actually we don’t have HR we’re too small). My boss is the hiring manager (big difference).

    3. INTP*

      Perhaps you come across as hostile and defensive and that is why no one wants to give you their contact information or discuss your candidacy with you? You are not entitled to a dialogue about why a company doesn’t want to hire you, especially if it’s clearly going to become an argument. Frankly, that sort of attitude is why most interviewers and HR people do not give negative feedback – it often brings out defensiveness or an unpleasant discussion that wastes time and doesn’t benefit the company in any way.

    4. Creag an Tuire*

      I am shocked, absolutely shocked, to hear that you’re having trouble getting hired.

    5. Joey*

      Dude, you’re way off. My HR folks loving finding the right people. Yeah, they don’t like turning down nice people , but it’s sort of like turning down a mechanic that doesn’t know your vehicle as well as someone else. In other words they don’t usually lose sleep over it.

      And what you’re forgetting is giving the kind of feedback you’re talking about is a favor, not an expectation. And trying to force someone to give it to you comes off to a lot of people like you’re trying to corner them into giving it to you.

    6. MW*

      A couple of years ago, I interviewed someone who gave an example in a scenario-based question of a time he went behind his boss’s back and did something he’d been specifically directed not to do. The kicker was when at the end of the interview, he demanded – yes, demanded, in a very strident tone – to know “Tell me one reason you wouldn’t hire me!”

      I don’t care if he read that advice somewhere or if he came to it on his own. It’s a horrible idea!

  25. Sam*

    When I get the “Did I do OK?” question (or variations) I usually just say (in a friendly tone) “You gave me everything I need to know!” While it does not answer the question, it invariably satisfies the question.

  26. Tara*

    My gut reaction was that what was intended was “Is anything that I’ve told you about my experience/ skillsets totally incompatible with what you’re looking for, or are we still on the same page?” and it was just phrased poorly. But I guess the idea of asking the interviewer for their immediate opinion of you mid-interview just blows my mind so thoroughly I reached for another explanation. Yikes!

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Maybe it’s because hiring managers I’ve interviewed with haven’t been poker-faced, but I’ve generally been able to glean from body language, intonation, and other visual or social cues what my interviewers think of me and whether we’re compatible or not.

      One interview, just on the phone, was so awkward both ways that at the end I emailed and said I was withdrawing my candidacy because I didn’t think it was a good fit, and my interviewer emailed me and wholeheartedly agreed. I hope she found someone who was a good fit.

      On the other side of things, the last job I got, the interviewers straight-out told me (unprompted, obviously) I was the best candidate and the only one to answer their questions well.

  27. oaktown*

    It’s not just career centers. There is a “career advice” website (I cannot emphasize those quotes strongly enough) that actually insists that you try to “stump” the employers in your interview. I bet you 5,000 chocolate teapots that the interviewer in the letter got it from this website. I don’t want to post a link to give this dude more clicks, but it’s on theladders dot com and the title includes the words ‘stump employers’ ..

    I was searching for something else and stumbled upon it. And he literally suggests that you want to blow them away so that they don’t have any answer except: Omg, yes! you are right! I have nothing negative to say, you are hired! It’s out there, and this is what people are reading. :o(

  28. AnonieGirl*

    Oh gosh, this reminds me of a “career counselor” who suggested I write a poem for a cover letter and ask the interviewer “what I could do to make them hire me today.” So much bad career advice. — the candidate was probably trying to follow what they thought was good advice.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      As an actual career counselor, I am angered and flummoxed by this kind of thing. It seems to spring from some kind of bizarro-world “stand out from the pack” advice mentality. It’ll be successful, but you’ll be differentiating yourself by appearing desperate, displaying poor professional judgment and possibly seeming unhinged, depending on the content of the poem. I really really really hope this “career counselor” was NOT employed by your alma mater.

  29. Labyrinthine*

    The only thing worse than this was the candidate who, upon being asked if he had any questions for me (me being a secondary interviewer and not the hiring manager, but his hiring manager’s peer – something that was explained to him) asked why I thought I was qualified to interview him.


    I couldn’t even come up with a coherent response. I just thanked him for his time and told him that would be all. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.

  30. mee too*

    I am a bit late to the conversation but I recently took a new position where I interview a lot of people. In just a few months I have been asked this at least 4 times. I was shocked the first time it happened and I too am happy to see that others share my feeling of uncomfortablity at answering this. I found that it is usually people with a background in sales who do this. I assumed it was from training about closing the deal. It always feels like buying a car.

    The other day I had a candidate ask me this question three times in a row. He did not like my answer about talking to the team and looking at all the candidates. By the third time I was so put off that I lost it and said “That is not an appropriate question. ” I really wanted to say you are ruining your chances of getting this job right now….. Later I thought of some better answers like: I have answered that question two times already. I do like Allison’s wording and will be using something like that from now on. The thing is I don’t make the decision all on my own, the information does get passed on and considered by others as well even if I did give an opinion it is not the final word.

    I have also been asked both questions from #8 of Lauren’s post above [Ask questions like, ” If I am hired and I perform well, to which other opportunities might this job lead?” and “How do my skills compare with those of the other candidate you have interviewed?”] both of which can be off putting as well. I don’t mind telling people about the promotion opportunities especially if they are good. When people start talking about wanting to use the job as a stepping stone to another department I wonder if they realize that other candidates are expressing interest in this job not getting out of it as fast as they can.

    On a side note I have been thinking I should make a list of tips for phone interviewing that should be obvious but are apparently not. I am generally surprised by the things people say to me in interviews. This would include things like really don’t say that raciest thing about your coworker, do not interview with your baby on your lap….. because yes I can hear them and notice you are distracted, do not stop the interview to talk to your spouse…….or tell me about your divorce…… do not microwave food, again I can hear the beeping ……..the list goes on and on.

    1. oaktown*

      oh dear god, it must be a thing now… and/or lots of people are finding that The Ladders blog. Siiigghhh.

  31. Lucy Eleanor Moderatz*

    Not going to lie, I freaked out for a second reading this. My husband is interviewing candidates for a position and he told me this exact same story last week. I was so convinced it was him/his boss, but I was wrong…sigh.

  32. Stranger than fiction*

    I sure hope this isn’t a new “thing” like the personal branding thing someone wrote in about the other day!

  33. Nethwen*

    Near the end of one interview, I asked, “Do you have any concerns about me that I can answer?” They clearly were taken aback and as soon as the words left my mouth, I felt awkward and thought I would never ask the question again – it feels too artificial. The senior interviewer answered, “It’s not really the time for that,” and another interviewer stammered something about they wanted to take time to review the applicants before deciding. Clearly, they misunderstood what I meant by the question and when I tried to explain, it didn’t help. Sadly, the question caused an average-to-good interview end uncomfortably.

    1. Morgan*

      I don’t think they misunderstood. They just didn’t want to answer it. I used to like this question a lot but I have found that lots if people just say “no”.

  34. Richard Fillion*

    This is very typical. Anyone in HR or any manager typically tends to have a holier-than-thou attitude towards the people they are interviewing. Obviously, they want to be the ones who put the interviewees on the spot, they don’t like it being the other way around. When you are hiring slaves, you don’t want the slave to be the one questioning you.

    If you are the interviewee on the other hand, I would think it is just common sense to not ask put your interviewer on the spot. You are looking for a job, you should do anything to aid it and not do anything that would make an interviewer go on the defensive.

  35. Working Girl Looking*

    Before discovering this awesome website, I was doing research on what questions to ask during an interview. And there were a lot of suggestions on reputable websites like (Forbes.com) for a candidate to ask that question. Actually thinking back now, there are so many websites out there that I have taken advice from that I shouldn’t have :(! The thing is several different websites were suggesting the same thing. Oh well… you learn.

  36. Morgan*

    I think the psychology of this question is to get the interviewer to say something positive, a behavior which will help the I interveiwer remember the candidate positively.

    I had a job interview Monday, my first question when it was my time to ask questions was: “what about my application materials interested you in me?” It worked because then my interviewers were naming off all of the things about me that make me special. I will learn if I am a finalist soon.

    Another similar question my wife has used in an interview is: “so, after our conversation can you imagine me working here?” Again, people will only say nice things so it reinforces in the interviewer’s mind the positive things about the candidate.

    “How am I doing” is certainly not a very good question though.

  37. OhNoes*

    This is kinda hilarious because when I was first starting out, I made the mistake of saying “so when can I start” to an interviewer, and I remember kicking myself hard in the foot right after I walked out of that interview.

    The interviewer was real nice in fielding the question and telling me she’d have to look at other candidates, but I sure as hell knew I wasn’t going to get that job right there and then. Glad I’ve learned from experience now.

    Definitely a no-no.

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