10 Questions NOT to ask at interview

Sep 2014

Reference: Forbes; about.com; glassdoor; the undercover recruiter

It’s been going swimmingly; you’ve dazzled them with your experience, charmed them with your wit and personality and side-stepped any major banana skins. Just a few minutes stand between you and potential glory. Then that uncomfortable final hurdle: “are there any questions you’d like to ask?”.

By not giving any specific thought to what you don’t want to say in this situation, you risk succumbing to nerves and blurting out something that may jeapordise your chances of getting the role. Here are the some of the top questions you should certainly look to avoid:

1. When was the company established?
The answers to this, or other questions like it, can be easily researched prior to the interview. Asking them now shows a lack of preparation and/or genuine interest in the organisation.

2. What is your position in the firm?
Do your homework; not knowing the identity of the person interviewing you can be a sign of disrespect, or at the very least poor concentration.

3. What is the salary for this position?
Still the main taboo as far as questions go. Wait to be asked what your salary expectations are, or leave the discussion for when you’ve actually been offered the job.

4. How quickly can I expect to be promoted?
This implies a lack of regard for the position you are going for. It can be better phrased along the lines of ‘what opportunities for advancement are available?’

5. Will I be able to work from home?
Flexible working, if offered, is normally highlighted in the job description. Failing this, it should be something to bring up only once you are firmly settled in your position.

6. How much holiday will I be permitted?
Again, this is much better off discussed on receipt of a formal job offer, ideally via a discreet email to HR.

7. Will I be expected to work late/ on weekends?
Appearing agitated about overtime is unlikely to endear you to your prospective employer as someone with a strong work ethic.

8. How does the company’s review process work?
Flagging this up may insinuate that you have had negative experiences with reviews in the past.

9. Why did my predecessor leave the position?
The person who held the position before you may have left for any number of reasons, some of them potentially unpleasant. Don’t risk associating yourself with a negative situation.

10. Am I likely to get the job?
Asking your interviewer this straight out puts them on the spot and is likely to make them feel uncomfortable.

Ultimately, the best way to avoid asking the ‘wrong’ question is to have a bank of suitable questions prepared before you walk through the door. A little pre-planning can go a long way to avoiding any ‘foot-in-mouth’ episodes and help cut a smooth path through the last stage of the process.

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