When you’re at a job interview, you want to impress. One of the ways to do that is asking questions. The responses you get can offer insight to how you can personalize your communication and it shows the employer that you are engaged and interested. However, there are some questions that are better off not asking.
Stick to questions that will help you gain insight to the job and organization because that will direct the conversation in a manner that gives you the opportunity to show you have what the employer is looking for. What you want to avoid are the random questions that only speak to your personal gain and interest, like “Can I get a two hour lunch break?”
Consider that what you ask at the job interview is as important as how you respond to questions. Stay away from these questions:
1. What’s your maternity/paternity leave policy?
For the first interview or when the employer is still trying to assess whether you’re a good fit for the job, this is not a question you want to ask. It sounds like you’re planning to take time off before even starting work. Questions of benefits may be left for much later and are usually best addressed when you actually receive a job offer.
2. What are the work hours?
Sure, you need to know what time to start work and when the work day ends, but it’s not necessarily a question you should ask during the early stage of the interview process. Don’t come off like you’re one who watches the clock. It’ll make the employer question your work ethic. Are you someone who will check-out as soon as the clock strikes 5 PM even though there’s an urgent deadline that must be met on a particular occasion?
3. Can you tell me more about the company?
Don’t ask questions you can easily find information on. It indicates to the hiring manager you didn’t do your homework and may have just randomly applied to the job. Demonstrate to the hiring manager you know the company and its business. For example, ask: “I read that the company recently formed an alliance with 123 Company, are there plans to expand into the Asian market considering 123 Company has….?”
4. How quickly do promotions come around?
At most organizations promotions are not handouts, they are earned. By asking this question, it leaves an impression that you’re more interested in the next advancement than doing the job you’ve applied to. Stick to questions that demonstrate you want to succeed on the job. For example, ask: “What types of qualities are needed to succeed on the job?” The answer may very well provide opportunity for you to demonstrate you have those qualities.
5. Does the company monitor employees’ computer and Internet usage?
By asking this question, you’re opening up a can of worms for yourself. Why ask it? It only leads the employer to think you do a lot of personal stuff while at work and don’t want to get caught.
6. What’s the salary and benefits for this job?
General advice is leave money talk to the end of the interview process or when you actually get an offer. The last thing you want to do is indicate to the employer that it’s all about the money. The other reason to stay away from the subject is you want to focus on making the best impression you can first. When you’ve done that, there will usually be room to negotiate a salary that suits your desire.
7. Asking what’s already been answered.
Please listen carefully and don’t ask anything that’s already been answered during the job interview. If you do, it’s indicating to the interviewer you weren’t paying attention. Certainly it’s okay to ask a question that you need clarity on, but make sure you position it in a manner that doesn’t come off like you weren’t listening.
Many of the questions that shouldn’t be asked at a job interview relate to personal gain and benefits. While some of the information may be needed to decide whether you’d accept the job or not, wait until the job offer actually comes through to have the questions addressed. The main priority now is to establish rapport with your contact and impress them by sharing what it is that you have to offer. For more tips on what you SHOULD ask at the job interview, read: “Ace The Interview By Asking The Right Questions.”
About the author
Don Goodman’s firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Check out his Resume Writing Service. Get a Free Resume Evaluation or call him at 800.909.0109 for more information.
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