when a job candidate asks “how did I do?”

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, saying something like, “So, 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?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

{ 120 comments… read them below }

  1. Jennifer Juniper

    It also comes off as childish and needy. Ick. Bad, bad look in a professional environment.

  2. Rowena Ravenclaw

    I really hope this person was applying for an internship/very entry-level job and was simply nervous, instead of thinking this is a valid tactic to get feedback.

    1. NaN

      Yeah, that’s my take. I think I said something similar in one of my first real job interviews, out of sheer nervousness and awkwardness. I’ve gotten this question from several entry-level people I’ve interviewed in the years since then, and I don’t hold it against them.

    2. Kathleen_A

      I truly think that this shouldn’t be a red flag. No doubt in a few cases, it’s an error made out of clueless arrogance, but I would bet big money that in most cases, it’s a result of nervousness – or poor advice from the dreaded Gumption School of Job Searching Advice.

      There are people out there *right now*, people who ought to know better, telling job candidates that they should end an interview by asking for the job right then. Which is, of course, preposterous. But this seems like exactly the same sort of thing.

      1. LGC

        Eh, I’d think it would depend on the role, right? I don’t think it’s as red flaggy from someone just starting their professional work life as much as it would be for someone who is more experienced.

        (I do think that while the LW was right, her being APPALLED that the candidate had the gall to ask a somewhat situationally inappropriate question was a bit over the top. I wouldn’t ask how I did just after a job interview myself, but I can certainly imagine asking that after other high pressure situations.)

        1. Kathleen_A

          I more or less agree, but even a fairly experienced person can blurt something out due to nervousness. Who knows, it could even be that the person had gone to a job hunting coach or somebody who was very persuasive about the Need for Gumption. But yes, an experienced person should have known better.

          And yes, I definitely agree that being “appalled” is over the top. Amused, slightly puzzled, a bit taken aback – sure. But being appalled is not an appropriate response, at least IMO.

      2. Lavender Menace

        I have had so many people ask me this in interviews, and yes, it’s almost always nerves. Sometimes the person in question doesn’t know how to finish a statement, so they panic and finish with this question. In most cases they’re just anxious about the response they gave to something and want some reassurance, and they blurt this out before they get a chance to control themselves. Unless they do it constantly (which happens sometimes) I let it go.

  3. kristinyc

    My college career center recommended asking this (in 2006/2006ish). They also suggested responding to “What questions do you have for me?” with “So, do I get the job????”

    Ugh.

      1. twig

        I totally got this “gumption” advice from my dad! I used it once. it didn’t go well.

        He told me about when he was a manager (at a propane plant in the ’80’s) and one of his candidates, at the end of the interview, asked him if there was anything that he could have done differently in the interview. My dad was very impressed. The company that I tried this at (a marketing company in the ’00s) was not.

        1. twig

          I’ll add that my tone was probably waaay off (picture nervous Oliver twist voice: “Please Sir, can I have some reassurance.”)

      2. Kathleen_A

        Yeah, it just screams “Gumption Alert! Gumption Alert” to me. The poor little schmoe almost certainly got this advice from somebody, somebody who should be thoroughly ashamed but who probably isn’t.

    1. Nicelutherangirl

      I thought only clueless parents who last job-searched in 1982 encouraged gumption. Ouch.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        Gumption cannot die. It is the nature of gumption. Stake it through the heart and it won’t even notice.

        1. Errol

          But it does means we do get to watch Gumption blow up in said Gumption Encourager’s face.

          My dad was the “call three days later for an interview” type, swore up and down on that one, as well as the “just walk in and ask if they’re hiring” but the joke was on him – when they were hiring a new sales guy he had HUNDREDS of phone calls and walk ins. He couldn’t even go to the bathroom without a call or a person showing up.

        2. Zennish

          Of course not. The only thing to do is pull that stake out and get back out there! /Gumption

        3. Not One of the Bronte Sisters

          OMG. That is seriously the funniest thing I have ever read on this blog. I can’t stop laughing.

      2. SenseANDSensibility

        Ha. My Dad always said “just walk in & ask for a job where you want to work!” And “you need to let the headhunters find your next job for you.” I kept telling him it didn’t work that way & that headhunters couldn’t care one whit about little old me but he wouldn’t be swayed. Good guy with gumption, that’s his MO.

    2. cmcinnyc

      I actually did that once, after the third interview for a 3-week temp job! I thought the whole process was excessive and at that point I really did not give a damn if they gave me the assignment or not. Well, they did, and I’m still here (permanent, not temp) years later. Not recommended if you actually want the job (which turned out great, but really, a stupid start).

    3. Errol

      I was coming here to say this! I got told to do this from all career counselors/centers, in class, etc about in the window of 2005-2009.

    4. Just Elle

      Yeah, my college (which is one of the top ranked in career counseling?) said to ALWAYS use the opportunity at the end to ask for advice on how we could be better next time and in general how we did?

    5. Wendy Darling

      Mine recommended “Do you have any concerns about my candidacy that I can address for you?” at the end of every interview. And by “recommended” I mean “said we absolutely must ask at the end of every interaction with anyone associated with the job”. They pushed it HARD, like it was the hidden secret to getting a job.

      This was also the career center where a guy told me I absolutely must straighten or pull back my curly hair for job interviews because curly hair is “unprofessional”.

      I did have a person ask me that exact question once and I was like “nope!” but I was tempted to ask if they’d gone to that university’s career center, since it’s local — it’s quite probable that they did!

      1. ello

        That’s what I was taught as well. To be fair, that’s exactly what Alison says is appropriate in her response, too. (“It’s fine for a candidate for say something like, ‘Do you have any reservations about my candidacy that I could address for you?'”).
        Have you used that technique? I have, with mixed responses – once, it was productive and allowed me to address a concern (and I got the job). Every other time, it’s been some version of “Nope!” seemingly because they had already asked whatever they wanted to ask and formed an impression, whether for or against my candidacy.

        1. Kira

          I’ve organically asked “Is there anything else I could clarify or expand on?” and gotten good responses to that

        2. smoke tree

          A lot of these questions will land differently depending on the field and the interviewer. In publishing interviews, I find, if you ask how success is defined in the position, the answer you will get is “books happen.”

          1. londonedit

            Had to laugh at that – the absolute defining measure of success in my job is ‘books happen’. Possibly ‘books happen when they’re supposed to’.

        3. Actively Interviewing

          My last interview I used that question with the VP of the whole division at a billion dollar company and he was really thoughtful and said “actually, there really aren’t” and the subtext to me felt like “I’m now seeing that I really don’t have any reservations about you at all” which made me feel like it was ending on a strong note.

          I also used this with someone who then did ask “I’m understanding that you don’t have experience with X technology” and it gave me a chance to clarify that I don’t have much experience, but think my familiarity with Y and Z will translate well.

  4. SheLooksFamiliar

    Spit take? Really?

    The candidate asked an earnest, but not very savvy question. OP had a not very savvy reaction. Yes, you’re overreacting. People get nervous, a lot rides on interviews. Take a cue from your boss: calm down, answer benignly, and just take it in stride.

    1. Quake Johnson

      +1

      “Does this tactic come off weird to you or am I totally overreacting?”

      The answer to both those questions is Yes.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Yeah, I agree it’s an overreaction as well because really, it’s just awkward not outrageous by any means.

      You never have to answer something candidly anyways, you’re in the power position as a hiring manger, you should be a bit more unshakeable.

      It’s not like they’re asking “So, about the dress code, pants are banned in my home-life, are they required here or are we cool to walk around pants-free?” or something else spectacular.

      1. Amber T

        I feel like this would totally accidentally slip from my mouth… I would mean to ask the questions Alison says is appropriate (basically, “do you have any concerns about me that I can address before we end?”), but I could totally see myself awkwardly going “so when do I start?” or “so you like me?” Super awkward. Definitely wouldn’t mean to be presumptuous, but just “funny” in a way that’s actually cringey.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          I personally tend to understand when someone is “joking” so if I get the joking vibe, it would not work against them too much unless they’re just a weak candidate in general, which then why are you interviewing them, etc.

          I once had someone respond to something in an interview about using us a placeholder/stepping stone and really meaning to work for Mega International Powerhouse Corp in a much huger capacity. I could tell he was joking about it and was able to shoot back with a truth bomb of “Ouch ouch ouch we just lost the person in this position and are hiring now because they did get headhunted by That Place.” and the candidate was like “OMGOMG No no no it was a joke.” “It was a good joke no big deal but yeah LOL.”

          Really it’s all about delivery. Jokes fall flat a lot of times but it’s also a lot of people’s defense mechanism.

    3. Eukomos

      I don’t think we can assume it was an earnest question. It may be, of course, but lots of career advice venues recommend asking that kind of pushy question in interviews, presumably because they learned everything they know about business from watching Glengarry Glen Ross.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar

        I’ve been in staffing for almost 40 years. People at all levels ask all kinds of questions for all kinds of reasons. I agree that a lot of people were advised to ask certain questions, and read/heard something that sounded feasible, and they just go with it.

        However, after literally hundreds of interviews a year, and using the dictionary definition of ‘earnest’, I absolutely do think we can assume the question was earnest.

        1. pleaset

          Yeah – without other info/clues, I tend to assume that when someone asks a question they’re just asking a question. It might be something else, but that’s the simplest explanation.

    4. pleaset

      I was thinking something similar. Though in the OP’s defense s/he did right “nearly.”

      In any case, it’s a skill to avoid showing involuntary reactions to weirdness and surprises. Sometimes unavoidable, but worth practicing.

    5. Middle School Teacher

      Thank you, agreed. Hopefully LW was exaggerating for dramatic effect because… come on.

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      This is where I am. Honestly there are very few interviews in my line of work and so I’ve only been to a few, and I’m sure I have said some similarly awkwardly phrased things when I was trying to ask something totally reasonable. I’d be taken aback if my interviewer was on the verge of spitting out their coffee because my wording was a bit off.

    7. C.

      Agreed. The delivery of the question isn’t that great, but I think it’s really meant to convey something along the lines of “Is there anything you want to discuss further about my candidacy?” Unless it’s said in a really smarmy way, I think the interviewer needs to relax.

  5. The Man, Becky Lynch

    It’s up there with “So did I get the job?”, just not a good look or good question but you should put it on your list of “awkward AF questions that bad advisors give to job seekers, so it’s going to happen.”

    I’ve had both questions and I just internally go ‘LOL oh, that’s how you are, more insight into you and I don’t like that snapshot” and on the outside say “We’ll let you know about our decision by the end of next week, we’re still meeting with candidates .”

    But I simply don’t even know how someone did until I leave the room and digest our conversations, so putting me on the spot, as a stranger is just off putting and unhelpful in my situation.

    1. RUKiddingMe

      My go to:

      “Well like anyone you have strengths. I/we’re still meeting with and evaluating candidates though. We’ll let you know by (date).”

    2. Blue Horizon

      “Well, I need a bit more time to compare notes in private with the other interviewers, and also evaluate you against the other candidates we talked to.” In related news, water is wet and the Pope is Catholic.

      (I would give younger candidates and recent grads more of a pass on this one, but more experienced ones really ought to know how the interview process works).

      I like the ‘any reservations that I could address’ line. I’ve had occasions when interviewers offered reasons why I failed to get a job, and I’ve thought “I really don’t agree with that assessment, and I wish I’d had a chance to explain why.” Getting a chance to do that in the moment might save you once in a while from being rejected based on an inaccurate impression.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        I kind of play it by ear and don’t go on age or perceived experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing a few people who had worked at the same place for decades and were laid off [argh, it was sad for real, it reeks of age discrimination on my end]. And since they were super rusty and hadn’t interviewed in so long, their awkwardness was absolutely excused!

        1. Blue Horizon

          Yes, good point. It is definitely possible to have lots of work experience but not much interview experience. Not to mention that norms around things like interviewing can change a lot over that kind of time scale.

  6. Muriel Heslop

    That was my first thought. I teach middle school and this is the kind of thing my most insecure students say after giving a report. Sometimes they are dead serious; sometimes they are trying to be funny. Either way, it’s needy.
    I’d be so embarrassed to hear someone say this in an interview. How awkward!

  7. Linzava

    I asked a question similar to this during job interviews years ago. It was really bad advice because it only impressed people at toxic companies. It took me awhile to learn that using questions to impress would make me appealing to places I didn’t want to work at and genuine questions turned the interview into a good conversation, which helped me find the right fit.

  8. New Job So Much Better

    LOL. Hubby used to use that as a pick up line “Hi my name is ____, how do you like me so far?” But that was 30 years ago.

  9. pcake

    It may not be a tactic – just someone who isn’t experienced with the hiring practice or who has poor social skills. Or it could be a tactic they were told to do by a career counselor.

    1. irene adler

      Agreed.

      For me, there have been times where I just know the decision to hire -or not hire- must have been made during the interview. Because after the interview, the rejection email gets to my home before I do.
      There may be an assumption that the hire decisions are made at the interview. Hence, the inquiry.

  10. Clementine

    From what I can see from my manager, he really does not appreciate questions that put him on the spot or that try to “close the deal,” as some advice sites suggest. Maybe those are good for some people, but those questions and comments are risky.

  11. Hiring Mgr

    It’s a little awkwardly phrased maybe, but really not that big of a deal. Job interviewing is hard enough, let’s cut people some slack.

    1. JamieS

      Agreed. There’s fundamentally no real difference between what the candidate said and what Alison said was fine. Both put the interviewer equally on the spot and neither specifically says to say something you don’t feel comfortable saying or that you don’t have to say something you’re not comfortable saying. That differentiation is 100% in the mind of the recipient.

      Sure it’s awkwardly phrased but few if anyone perfectly phrase everything 100% of the time. Answer the question as it’s most likely intended, keeping in mind no response/deflection is also an answer if that’s the answer you feel okay with, and don’t overanalyze.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        I disagree that they are the same. “How did I do?” is an opening for “Everything is fine.” “Any concerns I can address?” (from either party) is an opening for whatever thing someone forgot to ask, or intended to segue to and then the conversation went another direction and it seemed awkward, and so on. The first seems to want positive feedback, while the second is looking for neutral to negative feedback.

        It reminds me a bit of when my daughter and her friends were trying to discern the secret rules which, if you followed them perfectly, led to you getting into the right college. Lack of confidence melded with trying to discern what the secret test is and whether you are passing it.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yep. And “how did I do?” demands an answer. “Any concerns I can address?” allows for “nope, I’ve got all I need”; it doesn’t ask for an assessment on the spot, unless the interviewer happens to feel like providing one.

          1. JamieS

            Both “demand” an answer. All non-rhetorical questions have an implied demand, or ask, for a response. Assuming similar tone and body language the differentiation on how hard of a demand it is is in the head of the recipient. For example I’d find your script to be the harder ask
            because the person asking is specifically requesting I share negative feedback. OTOH “How’d I do?” requests all feedback.

            Also “any concerns?” asks for an assessment as well because you have to assess whether or not you have any concerns and are then asked to share those concerns.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              One demands an assessment; the other doesn’t.

              It’s not “any concerns?” It’s “any concerns that I can address right now?” which is different.

              We can agree to disagree though.

              1. JamieS

                No, “any concerns?” and “any concerns I can address right now?” are fundamentally the same question asked slightly different. Any differentiation is a bit ridiculous. It’s like differentiation between “are you hungry?” and “are you hungry right now?” Both are asking the same thing.

                1. fhqwhgads

                  I disagree. “Any concerns I can address right now” can potentially be a yes or no question. “Any concerns” and “how’d I do” both request more explanation. The “right now” gives the interviewer an out if they don’t want to get into it. Without it, you have to either lie or be evasive. This is an example where a very small change in the wording of the question absolutely makes a different in how lands.

                2. Akcipitrokulo

                  They are fundamentally different in their expected (required) responses. One is demanding information of a type that is inappropriate. The other is giving an opportunity to share appropriate information.

            2. Washi

              I think the real issue here is how much a candidate’s question requires the interviewer to pivot away in order to give a polished response.

              That’s why the “I can address” part at the end of “Any concerns I can address” is key. If there are concerns but I don’t need the applicant to address them, it’s easy to answer “no, I have all I need thank you.”

              “How did I do?” is awkward because it requires a substantial pivot. Is the interviewer really going to go through someone’s pros and cons of their candidacy on the spot? I’ve literally never heard of that happening. And therefore, there’s kind of a mental swivel to give a non-answer like “Well, it was great meeting with you! We’re still meeting with other candidates and will get back to you either way in the next few weeks.”

              1. Hiring Mgr

                I see your point but to me it seems like hair-splitting to really come down on a candiate for this. I would just answer the “How did I do question” as if the candidate asked about next steps..”Fine.
                I’ll review everything with the team, and then we’ll get in touch… etc etc.. ”

                Anyone who’s done a fair amount of interviewing has probably had questions that require a mental swivel.. nothing wrong with that.

              2. JamieS

                “If how’d I do?” requires a significant pivot that’s more indicative of a lack of interviewing skills than anything else. There’s numerous polite answers or deflections you can give. Interpreting “how’d I do?” as a request to go over every pro and con including ones you wouldn’t say to their face is silly. At most the candidate is asking for your overall impression not an in-depth analysis.

                1. Jennifer Thneed

                  You’re being very adamant. Have you done hiring? (Honest question.)

                  IMO, adding the “that I can address right now” bit acknowledges that there may be things that the interviewer legitimately can’t bring up at that moment for whatever reasons. It displays emotional intelligence and an understanding that the interview/hiring process has many steps. (And no, I haven’t done hiring. I have asked a similar-in-intent question at the end of interviews, but I like this way of phrasing it a lot more and I’m going to adopt it.)

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Yeah, this is why I always like to remind people who are hiring about the power dynamics. People usually aren’t interviewing for a joyride, they’re doing it because they want a job and are feeling a lot of pressure at the moment. Whereas we have jobs and it’s stressful to hire but it’s not even the same as being either unemployed or employed somewhere that you’re trying to leave for whatever reason that may be.

      1. selena81

        It really rubs me wrong when people with steady jobs and in an obvious position of power over their candidate expect them to be totally chill about losing out on yet another opportunity to feed their family.

        Cut them some slack if they are nervous and/or disappointed will you: of course it’s easier if everyone who gets turned down reacts with an honest ‘we are cool, i realized the job is not right for me after all so i am happy you found a better candidate and i also found something else anyway’, but the reality is that most candidates will feel rejected. Own that fact, and don’t rub in the salt.

    3. Richard

      Agreed. We don’t need to pile on more unforgivable sins that interviewees do when interviewers get away with being all kinds of terrible all the time.

  12. Colin

    I normally prefer to deflect this general kind of question even if I think the candidate is strong, just because it seems mean to imply that somebody has it in the bag before I’ve discussed them with other interviewers, and I don’t want to create a difficult situation if we have to reject them later. Best to be pleasant but non-committal at this stage.

  13. PhillyRedhead

    I’ve been advised to ask “Do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job?” toward the end of an interview. Maybe that was their intent, and in their nervousness, didn’t quite get the question right.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Oooh, I wouldn’t ask that. If I do have concerns, now I’m in a position where I have to either share them (unprepared) or lie. It’s better to say, “Do you have any concerns that I could address for you?”

  14. Richard Hershberger

    While asking the question is a terrible idea, I can see where it is coming from. Interviewing for a job is a high pressure, high stakes activity for which people receive coaching. It is performance art. It is natural for the candidate to want to evaluate how well he did. It is also natural to worry that if he did something wrong, no one will tell him. Then he will go into the next interview and make the same mistake. So he asks. It isn’t a triumph of social awareness, but it is understandable.

  15. Limpet1

    Agree not a well phrased question… where do you stand on company’s asking the candidate the same question? I’m interviewing and have been asked that twice – not do you have any questions/reservations but, ‘so how do we do?’ I find it so awkward to answer!

  16. Us, Too

    I do a lot of interviewing and I’ve been asked this question only 3 times. We have a policy prohibiting me from answering this question so I just tell the candidate that. One of the things we screen for in the role for which I interview people is strong indirect influence/leadership skills and high EQ. People with those skills generally don’t do cringe-worthy things like asking this question because they recognize it makes people feel awkward. I don’t make a “no hire” recommendation based on whether someone asks a question like this but it surely isn’t coincidental that the people who have asked this at the end of their interview had already done poorly before asking it.

  17. Keyboard Cowboy

    I’ve had candidates who bombed a technical interview – and we both knew it, once I had to pause the interview to ask the candidate to take a few deep breaths because they were clearly panicking – ask me at the end what they should try to work on for next time. It’s a little different framing, and at the time, I mentioned a couple topics for them to study and specifically mentioned that they should practice whiteboarding by doing mock interviews with their friends. But I worry that I shouldn’t have said anything at all. How would yall respond to that?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think that’s different. If it’s clear they bombed the interview and you’re not going to hire them, there’s nothing wrong with an open conversation about “this didn’t go well — any advice for how I should approach this differently?”

      But while they’re still in the running (or believe they are), candidates shouldn’t be asking how they did. At least, not in an un-nuanced way. (I’d have no problem with, “So can I ask — I’m not entirely sure that my experience lines up with what you’re looking for. What’s your sense of how challenging it would be for me to come in with a background in X rather than Y?” or so forth.)

    2. Clementine

      I think that was a kind and helpful thing to do. HR might have concerns from a liability perspective, though. One way to get around this in the future is to create interview prep materials that mention the same thing, and then if everyone gets these materials, there’s no fear of liability.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        There’s no real liability issues if you can point to defensible reasons why you’re not hiring that person, and as long as you’re not saying “we’re not hiring you because you don’t have X” and then you hire someone who doesn’t have X either (and happens to be demographically different).

      2. Keyboard Cowboy

        I did make very sure not to say “You have failed this interview and I’m not going to recommend hire” – worry not. :) As for prep material, my company (Big Tech – so I’m just an interviewer peon, not actually involved in designing the hiring process) is one of these ones that would be guilty of sending basic interview prep material to experienced candidates. Everybody who gets scheduled a phone interview also gets an email with a packet including interviewing tips (show up early, don’t look at your phone, etc) and a copy of Cracking the Coding Interview – it’s part of a form letter.

    3. Blue Horizon

      I’ve done that as well. Just because they fail that particular technical interview doesn’t mean they don’t have other skills, or that you won’t end up working with them at some point in the future. Interviews like that can leave people feeling like they want to crawl into a hole and die, and it’s nice to end on a more positive note if you can.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I agree that this is different and really geared towards “I bombed this, in the event I’m giving another shot down the road [very possible for a lot of positions that hire frequently!], what would you suggest me doing to avoid bombing again?”

      It’s okay to be helpful in that kind of situation, it’s the kind thing to do.

    5. Tangerina Warbleworth

      I think it depends on the level of the job. I had a similar experience with a student interviewing for a scholarship. Poor kid was visibly sweating and nervous. We were about ten minutes in to the interview when I asked a question, he answered, and then said, “Is that what you want to hear?”

      I stopped the interview right there. The kid is in high school and has clearly never done this before, so I very, very gently told him that he was doing fine, but that he should never, ever, ask that question — and in fact, should never try to tell people what he thinks they want to hear, because that leads to cookie-cutter disaster. We had a coaching session right there about what his life experiences were, what he wanted to do for a career, why he wanted to do that, and why he thought he would be good at it. I don’t know how much of that he may have remembered, but I felt it was appropriate because it would be useful.

      If the interview is for an entry-level job, maybe it would be okay to say something in a coaching manner? As long as it’s not against company policy.

  18. Anonymeece

    Nothing to add, other than I loathe this question from interviewees. It’s awkward for the interviewer(s) and you’re not going to get a true answer most of the time, so why bother asking it?

    1. The New Wanderer

      I think it’s largely performative. Asking the question is just another way to look super interested in the job (“I care about how I did because I really want this job!”) and, as a bonus, maybe get the interview to say something positive and subconsciously reinforce your awesomeness in their head.

      I don’t know that any candidate (except the truly naive) would expect an honest, on the spot review. At most, they’d be looking for reassurance, no matter how generic or bland, but likely just putting it out there as a way to get back to showing that they really want the job.

    2. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t know if this an appropriate comparison, but this made me immediately think of when you’re in a restaurant, you’ve eaten all the food, and the waitperson says “How was it?” Even if it’s not delicious, you feel compelled to say it was good, unless it was actually uncooked or in some way horribly prepared so that you have to ask them to take the dish back.

  19. Leela

    Ick I really hate this question! I’ve never responded like this but I’ve always wanted to say “well actually you were doing fine until you asked me that!”

    The thing is, even if they knocked it out of the park, it’s weird and ego-stroking to be prompted to say that in the moment, and it wouldn’t mean much as far as knowing their chances (which is why I assume they’re asking) because it’s going to depend on who’s at the top of the list when I’m done interviewing all the candidates, more so than how one person individually did.

    But it definitely makes me wonder about their entitlement, and how forward they’re going to be with me and the rest of the staff if they come on board.

  20. Akcipitrokulo

    “That you have listened to some very bad advice about appropriate interview questions.”

  21. Kim, No Longer Esq.

    I like Alison’s answer here a lot, but I also agree with some commenters above who balk against the idea that this is a really bad reflection on the interviewee. The thing that really clinched it for me was thinking about the same question, but opposite: if the interviewer asked them “So, what do you think about the company so far?” It’s not apples to apples, for sure, but when I think about it that way it seems like a totally reasonable and breezy question. Not a useful one, really, because as an interview I would expect that, in the moment, they will tell me whatever pops to mind that they think I want to hear, but not unreasonable on face.

    Honestly, given all the issues we often have in organizations with getting employees to ask for and absorb feedback, this would probably be a good sign, on balance! Feedback, giving or receiving, is the very model of putting people “on the spot”. That’s what it is. Building comfort with it, even when imperfectly approached, is probably a good skill for employees as well as interviewers/managers.

  22. Anlina

    I have asked this question as a less savvy interviewee sheerly out of anxiety and wicked impostor syndrome that made self assessment extra difficult. (I believe I asked it in two different interviews :cringe: and god the job both times.)

    As someone who has experience hiring now I would never do this, but I think it’s important to remember how terrible most of the interviewing advice that exists is, and that most interviewees are taught to view the process as “potential employer judging me” vs “mutually deciding if we’re a good fit” and the power dynamics of the former prompt people to do all kinds of weird stuff that doesn’t make sense if you think of interviews as a two way street.

    1. Kim, No Longer Esq.

      I totally agree. I know that it’s always a game of doing what you can with limited information, but I’ve been trying hard to train myself out of making judgements on candidates, even minor ones, based on info like this. Could be that the person is a pushy “closer” (might be useful in some jobs, not so much others); could be that they got bad advice, could be that they just wanted feedback generally and immediately internally cringed at the wording they used, etc. Could be something I’m not even thinking of! Ultimately, if I don’t have something more substantive than this to base my impressions on, I probably need to seek a *lot* more information from the candidate.

  23. irene adler

    Well, now I know what to ask to make the interviewer squirm.

    Heh, heh, heh.

    There have been times when I wish I could do something to return some of the pain, as the interviewer has asked me some awkward questions.

    1. Leela

      I’ve been asked some awkward and bizarre ones in interviews.

      “Which kind of tree is better and why: birch or poplar”

      “Would you be more likely to hire someone who preferred sparkling water to tap, or less?”

      “If you were trapped in a cabin but got to choose three items, which three would you choose and why?”

      How does that help you assess me?? Other than seeing if I’ll work through a BS problem that was given to me just for the fun of it

    2. bleh

      Yes!! It’s an attempt to wrest some of the (near total) power from the interviewer towards the interviewee. Have *them* answer a question for once.

  24. BronzeFire

    The same people who told me to use “gumption” and apply for all jobs in person (and follow up daily “so they don’t forget about you”) also told me to ask this. I honestly never knew what questions to ask of interviewers until recently.

  25. The Bimmer Guy

    As Alison has said in the past, there’s some really, reaaallly bad or outdated job advice out there. And

  26. The Bimmer Guy

    (Continued) so I would give jobseekers a lot of mercy and benefit of the doubt, when it comes to awkward stuff like that.

  27. Ana Gram

    I had a candidate ask me that once. He had just finished telling me which races (yep, of people) he dislikes, how he stole from his former employer, and why he’s late to work 3x per week. I just said “we’ll let you know”. Spoiler alert: we did and the answer was no.

    1. Anon Librarian

      That’s so bad, I would wonder if he was trying to get rejected. Trying to meet the requirements to keep his unemployment benefits or something like that?

      1. Scarlet

        Maybe! My brother used to do hiring and he said on some applications he would get people would literally write things like “I AM A TERRORIST”

        Like LOL okay I guess you don’t actually want a job.

  28. Mym

    I did something similar just today… did I goof?

    The difference is that I successfully interviewed for a internal transfer last week and I met today with my current boss, who was one of the interviewers and will become my grand boss soon due to a restructuring. We had set the meeting specifically to talk about how my role is changing and professional development opportunities we want to plan for.

    As a part of the conversation, I asked about how the interview went from her perspective as an interviewer and if she had any feedback for me on my answers to her questions, the questions I asked, or the references I chose. It was an enlightening discussion.

  29. ceiswyn

    From the reverse perspective, how would you answer the question ‘So what’s your opinion of Ned [a senior exec and part of the interview team]’ if the interviewer asked it of you? In front of Ned?

    This happened to me at a recent interview, where I’d worked for Ned before. I tried to pretend that Ned wasn’t in the room and listed what I felt his professional strengths were, finishing with a short humorous anecdote to defuse the awkwardness I felt about essentially praising someone to his face.

    But I’m still kind of wondering what motivated the other interviewer to ask that question, and whether I could have addressed it better in the moment.

  30. Catalyst

    I have done a lot of interviewing, but I have never had anyone ask me how they did. I think I would find it off putting as well. I agree with Alison’s response that it shouldn’t be “how did I do” it should be “anything I can address for you”.

    I did once have someone who clearly struggled with English in for an interview because she had a really strong resume, and she was aware that it had not gone well. At the end of the interview she said that she knew her English wasn’t strong enough to get the job after speaking with us, but did we have any tips for her to help her in future interviews. In this specific instance I had no problems giving her a few tips because we both knew it had gone poorly and she just wanted feedback for growth. For example I told her that it’s ok to stop to think through what we asked, or to ask us to say it again (she missed the point of a few of the questions) and otherwise just to keep getting out and practicing her English.

  31. Scarlet

    Back when I used to do interviews, I had a couple candidates ask me this question, and also the dreaded “so, do I have the job?”. Funny enough, they were always the candidates that had interviewed really poorly and I had already decided to reject them.

    1. ceiswyn

      It strikes me that people who are frequently unsuccessful at interviews are the sort of people who will take ‘gumption’ advice in the hope of improving their chances.

      People who are good at interviews will see no need to change up a winning formula.

  32. Fluff

    I believe this really depends on the interview, job, etc. and that it should not be a red flag across the board.

    If you ask the candidate to do a presentation in an educational environment I absolutely think feedback is good and it is ok for them to ask. Caveats – not the “did I get the job?,” but more “I would welcome any comments on how I can improve this presentation (insert more specific)” – or similar. Same with the “discussing any concerns” questions. Giving them feedback also gives you important clues (if your culture is feedback oriented) on how they respond – and make it real feedback. Nothing is more annoying than “feedback culture” talk, then when it is requested, people do not do it! Does the job require the person give and receive feedback well? Then show it.

    It might be a naive newbie question from one candidate and it might be a ‘learning more about the culture’ from another.

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