Asking the Panel Questions
When a traditional interview is about to finish, I'm usually asked by the interviewer if I have any questions. What can you ask at the close of a Chief's Interview with a fire department to end it on a positive note? I'm really stumped on this one and need some advice because I want to have some excellent questions. Also, how many questions should I ask?
Reply: How about none.
This can either be questions you want to ask the panel or an opportunity for a closing statement.
Asking the Panel Questions?
Candidates have been told by others that you always have to ask a question, if you're given the opportunity at the end of an interview, or you will lose points. Not true in a fire oral! In a regular or corporate interview that might be true. But not here. You never, ever, ever, have a question. We don't expect you to have any questions. I had a guy one day ask, "Since I live so far away, can I start at second step pay to help pay for my gas?"
If that question is asked (here's the "Nugget") you can pause as if your gathering your thoughts and then say, "No, I think we covered everything." We had another candidate say, "You have probably heard about the charges against me for stealing over at the college?" No, we haven't, why don't you tell us about it. Here was another candidate who had done an outstanding job in his oral and he had to bring this up. His score dropped like a wounded seagull. This is not the time to bring up anything like this. You never bring up a negative item unless the panel does. They probably won't. It they do, have a simple, short (I said simple and short) answer to the situation.
I asked a class of fire candidates, "What do you want to say if you're given the opportunity to give a closing statement at the end of your oral?" On candidate said, "I would ask them if they saw any reason why I wouldn't get the job." I asked why would you say that? Because that's what you would ask in a corporate interview. Good point. But, understand this is not, repeat is not a corporate or regular interview. This is a semi-military organization. I told the class I would never, ever ask this question. Hum, do I see any reason why this candidate wouldn't get this job? I do now with that question.
IMO, if a panel asks a candidate if they have any questions, they expect questions to be asked!![/QUOTE]
No they're not. That question has usually been brought in by the PC HR department. We're actually surprised when someone doesn't understand the culture enough that they start firing off questions when we are trying to wrap up the interview. Often the panel members are from different departments and probably won't have the answers you're asking anyway.
BTW there is usually no score for this question.
You're looking for a seamless no surprises interview. Throwing out questions when we really don't expect them, they will not be scored only increases your chances on not ending on a good foot. A simple brief pause, then, no I think we've covered everything is all that is needed here.