5 Questions You Shouldn’t Ask During an Interview (and What to Actually Ask)

Passing a job interview is as important as landing one if not more. It is during these brief moments (usually 20 minutes or even less!) with your potential employer when you are submitted to scrutiny that may define your next career move. Your looks, demeanor, and your choice of words, are being watched and taken note of. That’s why it’s important to get yourself familiar with these common job interview questions and how to answer them.

“Do you have any questions for us?”

The most commonly asked question towards the end of an interview. As a jobseeker, you should put equal amount of thoughts into asking questions as you do answering questions during an interview. The type of questions you asked reflect your level of interest, how much you know and care about the company, and of course your work attitude.

While it’s good to ask relevant questions, make sure you avoid asking any inappropriate ones. Here is a list of questions never to ask the employer during an interview and examples of what to ask instead.

1. What does your company do?

This question not only shows that you have not done your research, but also how little interest you have in the position. Do your research beforehand and if you know who will be interviewing you, it’s highly recommended to find out more about their background and their role in the company. Every employer likes a well-prepared candidate as it shows how much he or she wants the job.

2. Do you do any background checks?  

You have almost no control in the application process of the company you are applying for.  It is perfectly fine to ask about the interview procedure that you have to go through, but don’t keep insisting to know if the company is conducting any drug testing or verification of details provided. Whether you intend it or not, this gives off an impression of untrustworthiness for having an inappropriate paranoia. Employers follow a specific code of ethics on what to ask and what not to ask their prospective employees. But if you have nothing to hide, it is best not to bring up any suspicious subjects.

3. How quickly can I get promoted?  

We get it, you confidently believe that you are more fit to work in a higher position than what is being currently offered by the company. However, asking this question gives off the impression that you are not interested in the current position you are applying for. Surely you don’t want to be seen as unrealistic regarding the things you can and cannot achieve (yet) at work. Employers most of the time go for applicants who give off the vibes that they are ready to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty at work. So, act like you do, too!   

4. How soon can I get a raise? 

Along the lines of this question are, “How much paid vacation time would I get?” and “What other benefits do you provide?” Unless the subject is raised by the interviewer, you should not be talking about the salary and staff benefits at all.  It’s fine to be transparent about your expected salary if the topic is brought up by the interviewer. Make sure your expectation is logical and acceptable. But to be the first one laying your own terms to the table is a triple no. The best time to broach about these topics is when the company offers you the job. Otherwise, keep you focus on the job scope and the expectations of the company from you.

5. Anything that has already been discussed

The interview is the best opportunity for employers to see how good of a listener and a conversationalist you are. Your responses and questions throughout the interview provide an overview of your ability to comprehend and your listening skill. Make sure to pay attention to every detail that you and your interviewer is discussing. Even if your nerves are getting to you, calm yourself down and focus on what is happening at the moment.  

Ask these questions instead:

At the right time, here are some smart questions that you could ask which highlight your interest in the position and the company you applied for.

  • What are next steps in the hiring process?
  • What do you (and other employees) enjoy most about working here?
  • Are there opportunities for additional training and education/performance development?
  • What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 90 days in this job?

There is truth to the quote, “It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question.” Your questions during the job interview may reveal more about you than the responses you give.  

Good luck and happy job hunting!

Find these tips useful? We have more career advice, workplace tips, and job search tips on our blog. Don’t forget to check them out!

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