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20 Opening and Closing Interview Questions

The job interview is arguably the most crucial step in the hiring process for everyone involved. While the stakes are quite different for candidates and employers, in either position, it’s important to make a positive first impression. As an interviewer, you have a lot of control over how the conversation goes from beginning to end. A strong opening interview question gets the ball rolling, while a final probe can tie up any loose ends. Use this guide to make sure you start and finish every job interview, whether it be virtual or in person, on a high note.

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How to introduce yourself during an interview

If you’re the one doing the interviewing, it’s always a nice gesture to introduce yourself to each candidate before getting started. You’ll at least want to tell them your name, your title and what you do for the company. If time permits, you could even dive into your professional background and tell the story of how you ended up in this position. You may also choose to share something about your personal life, such as if you have a spouse or children, any unique interests or where you grew up or went to college.

Many applicants will be quite nervous going into a job interview. A friendly introduction can do a lot to help ease their anxiety and take some of the pressure off. You don’t need to tell everyone your entire life story, but taking a minute or two to get comfortable with one another might help them perform better during the interview.

The importance of first and last impressions

The serial position effect is a widely studied phenomenon that suggests people tend to remember the first and last items in a series the best. That being said, when someone thinks back on an interview, they’ll most likely recall talking points from the beginning and end of the conversation. This is just one reason to have strong first and last interview questions prepared for each candidate.

Kicking things off with a good first interview question sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. Asking the candidate something open-ended gives them the opportunity to introduce themselves and mention things that are important to them. This provides talking points for the rest of the interview. Asking an open-ended question also allows you to see how this person naturally communicates—an important thing to consider when seeking new people to join your team. Finally, giving the candidate an opportunity to speak freely at the beginning of the conversation will help them work through any nerves they might be feeling going into the interview.

Finishing the interview on a strong note is equally important. Asking the right question can give each candidate a final chance to make a case for themselves. They might mention a significant experience or accomplishment that didn’t come up during the interview but that turns them into a standout candidate. The end of the interview is also a great time for you to invite questions, concerns or ideas from the candidate themselves. The sort of questions they ask at this point can help you gauge their level of interest in the company and find out what aspects of the job are most important to them.

Example questions

Here’s a list of 20 opening and closing interview questions you can use when conducting interviews. All the examples are open-ended, thought-provoking and positive in nature. This will ensure the interview begins and ends on a high note. However, questions from this list can also be woven through the interview to sustain an engaging and informative conversation.

20 questions for opening the interview

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. How are you feeling about this interview?
  3. Tell me something about yourself that isn’t on your resume.
  4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  5. What part of your resume are you most proud of?
  6. How would other people describe you?
  7. What makes you unique?
  8. What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your life so far?
  9. What are you looking to get out of this role?
  10. What motivates you?
  11. What are you most passionate about?
  12. What led you to apply for this position?
  13. What interests you the most about this position?
  14. Why should I hire you?
  15. Why do you want to work for this company?
  16. What are your career goals?
  17. What makes you a good fit for this company?
  18. Tell me about your current/previous job and why you are leaving/left.
  19. What is it about our company’s mission that resonates with you?
  20. What makes you the best candidate for this position?

20 questions for closing the interview

  1. Do you have any questions for me?
  2. Is there anything we haven’t talked about that I should know about you?
  3. Was there something from this interview you want to revisit?
  4. How are you feeling about the position now? Still interested?
  5. Does this position line up with what you expected from the job posting?
  6. Do you feel qualified for this role? If not, what do you need to get there?
  7. Why should I hire you?
  8. What makes you stand out from your competition?
  9. Would this position be a good fit for you?
  10. What makes you a good fit for this role?
  11. Do you think you’re a good fit for this organizational culture?
  12. How would you help this company fulfill its vision/mission?
  13. Do your values align with those of the company?
  14. How would this position help you toward your career goals?
  15. If hired, what would you need from me to succeed in this position?
  16. If you had to pick just one thing, what is the most significant contribution you could make to this team?
  17. If you had to choose one thing you want me to remember you by, what would that be?
  18. If I asked you to start today, could you? Why or why not?
  19. In what areas could this company be improved?
  20. Give me your final elevator pitch in one minute or less.

How to say goodbye at the end of an interview

At the end of the interview, there are a few things you can do to leave the conversation on a high note.

Address any lingering questions or concerns

Before you finish up, be sure to ask the applicant if they have any more questions for you.

Say “thank you”

Thank the candidate for applying to the position, for coming out to the interview and for having a great conversation with you.

Offer positive feedback

If they said or did anything particularly impressive during the interview, tell them! If you have negative feedback, hold back for now. If they want more constructive criticism, they’ll probably reach out to you and ask for it.

Tell them what happens next

Applicants appreciate knowing what the next steps in the hiring process will be. Give them a general idea of when they’ll hear from you again.

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