10 Questions Never to Ask in an Interview

by Isabel Sperry | December 14, 2016

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There are many questions you might be tempted to ask in an interview that you shouldn’t. As a general rule, you should not ask about how the company will benefit you. Instead, focus your questions on what you’d contribute to the company if hired. Here are 10 questions to avoid asking in an interview.

1. What are the hours?

How you spend your time each day on the job is perhaps one of the most important factors that will determine whether you accept a job offer. However, this question should wait until after you’ve been offered the job. Asking about hours in the interview stage might give the impression that you value your personal time above your time at work, and imply that you want to spend as little time in the office as possible.

2. What is the salary? Is there an opportunity to earn a bonus?

While salary is another critical determining factor, asking about it during an interview may insinuate that money is your top priority in your job search. The interview is a time to learn more about the specifications of the job and company, not to discuss how much money you will make. Consider researching online ahead of time to discover the typical salary for the role, so that you are informed heading into the interview. If the hiring manager does not address salary in your interview, and you end up moving forward in the hiring process, then it will definitely come up in later conversations. So be prepared to talk about it knowledgeably.

3. Who are your main competitors?

Knowledge of competition is fundamental to understanding a business, but you should already know the answer to this question from doing your company research in preparation for your interview. If you’re interested in addressing the topic of competition, try asking a question such as, “What differentiates your company’s business model from that of your competitors X and Y?” Be sure to reference the competitor companies by name and understand their core businesses, to demonstrate not only that you understand the industry but also that you’ve dedicated time to preparing for this interview.

4. What does the timeline look like for promotions?

You haven’t even landed the job yet, so asking about promotions at this stage is presumptuous. It also implies that you view the role you’re currently interviewing for as unsatisfactory, which will certainly not incentivize the hiring manager to offer you the position.

5. What is the dress code?

While this is definitely a question you need answered if you end up accepting a job, you should wait to ask it until after you have received an offer. Inquiring about the dress code in an interview might insinuate that you care more about your fashion choices than learning about the position and company.

6. Could I work from home?

As a rule of thumb, you should refrain from asking for favors in interviews. This inquiry in particular may raise questions about your ability to excel in an office environment, not to mention indicate that you may be an uncooperative employee.

7. How many paid vacation days and sick days would I get?

Asking about paid time off implies that you are more concerned with the time you will be away from your job than the actual job itself, which brings into question your work ethic.

8. What other benefits would you provide?

While a benefits package may prove crucial to determining which job you will accept, this is another question you should ask only after you have the job offer. Emphasizing benefits in your interview suggests that your acceptance of a potential offer is contingent on a high-quality benefits package. Even if this is the case, you do not want to come across as if you value the benefits package over the actual job.

9. Does the company monitor employee email or social media accounts?

Even if you are lucky enough to receive a job offer, you should never ask this of an employer. You might just be curious, but questioning the surveillance policies of a company makes you seem as if you have something to hide.

10. What do you like least about working here?

While this may be a valuable question, you should refrain from asking it in an interview. It can give your interviewer the impression that you tend to focus on negatives, or worse, that you are phishing for him or her to criticize the company. If you are concerned about the role because you know it will be particularly difficult for some reason, try framing the question differently such as, “What is the most challenging aspect of your job?”

Keep in mind that if your interviewer prompts you to ask questions, perhaps the worst response is not asking any questions at all. You risk coming across as uninterested in the position, or lazy for not having prepared questions in advance. Ideally, the interview should be a two-way street, in which both you and your interviewer have the opportunity to ask questions and evaluate whether this role is a strong fit for you. So make your questions count.

Filed Under: Interviewing | Job Search

Tags: Benefits | Competition | Paid Time Off | Promotion | Salary

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