Your interview has gone really well. You answered every question. They nodded in agreement at all your answers. You nailed the answer to the dreaded Tell Me About Yourself question. All great. And just when you thought they were wrapping up the interview and you were busy visualizing how your name would look on your new business cards they mention they have one final question. You are thinking:
When can you start?
but what they actually say is:
What will you do if you are not offered this job?
What? Pardon? Excuse Me? How could they possibly ask that when you are so sure that the interview went really well?
Firstly – resist the temptation to panic and immediately start doubting the quality of your interview performance. They are not trying to give you a signal that you did a terrible interview. If they asked it to you they have probably asked it to everyone they interviewed for the job.
Why do they ask it?
They are checking for evidence of planning, resilience, initiative, determination and a measure of how much you want the role.
How should you answer it?
1. Tell them straight out that you will be disappointed if you are not offered the role. If they don’t get the impression that you will be very unhappy if you don’t get it that tells them you are not that pushed about it in the first place.
2. Tell them that if you don’t get offered the job you will request to speak to the interviewer to get detailed feedback on your interview and on how you can improve your interview performance for next time. Let them know that you are extremely keen to learn from them and you value their insight into what you need to do to meet their criteria
3. Mention that you will ask if there are current vacancies in other parts of the company that they feel would be better suited to your skill set and if there are you will consider applying to those
4. Tell them that you will ask if it would be worthwhile you applying again in 6 to 12 months time once demand for employees increases again. Stress your interest in the company and mention that you will be following them on LinkedIn to catch updates.
5. Tell them that you are determined to find a job in this industry and while their company is definitely your first choice you are also looking at roles in a number of other companies. Nothing like a bit of competition to generate demand for your skills.
Above all, be confident, non-defensive and non-threatening when answering. Show them that you really want the job but that you also have a well thought out Plan B.