Do you give much thought to the questions you’ll ask on a job interview? I know, we all expect to be asked questions on an interview, and that’s where most of the preparation time usually goes. But it can be just as important to be prepared to ask your own questions on the interview, and not just wing it with garden variety questions.
Serious questions can indicate that you’re strong candidate, but the wrong questions can take you right out of consideration.
What are questions you should never ask?
What will my salary be?
There’s a point in the interview process (not the interview itself) where you’ll need to talk salary, but you should never bring it up. To do so is to indicate that salary is your primary concern. That is particularly evident if you bring it up early in the process.
For the most part, any interviews with managers should revolve around the job and the company, while salary should either be held to the end of the interview, or for human resources.
How much vacation time (sick days, paid holidays, etc.) will I get?
Questions relating to time off will be interpreted as a sure sign that you may not be committed to the job. You’re attempting to define the time limits of the job before you’re even hired. The interviewer will be suspicious that you’re bringing it up at an interview will mean bigger problems down the road.
Most of that information is provided either in the employment ad, by the employment agent or by human resources anyway. If you bring it up in an interview with a manager it appear that you’re looking for additional time off. That may not be what you’re doing, but it will sink your prospects for landing the job.
Can you tell me about the health insurance plan?
Health insurance IS an issue, and the main reason why many people work for a large employer, rather than be self-employed. Employers know this too. If the company health insurance plan seems too important to you the interviewer may determine that your interest in the job is mainly about benefits, and not about their business, or the job they hope to have you fill.
Many job candidates ask benefit-related questions because they don’t know what else to ask. Rather than saying nothing to the “do you have any questions” prompt at the end of the interview, they launch into a series of benefit questions. Don’t! Keep your questions centered on getting the job done.
Can you tell me about your company?
Never walk into an interview expecting the interviewer to tell you about the company. Unless it’s a very small, privately held business, you should have at least a general idea about the company—what it does, how large it is, and who runs it. Not only does that indicate you have an awareness about the company, but it may also show that you do your homework.
If you don’t know anything about the company, you will be deemed unprepared to be a part of it. Your company related questions should be restricted to specifics and recent news events involving the company.
How quickly will I be promoted?
I’ve actually seen this question recommended for job seekers in the past—the thought being that it indicates a desire to grow with the company. But in today’s more static job market, it could be opening up can of worms.
The question could be interpreted as indicating that you want your boss’s job, and that can end the interview right there. In addition, many employers are hiring you to do a specific job; if you indicate you want something more before even coming on board they may sense impatience or a potential ego issue.
Any question that might indicate you don’t know how to do the job
When you get a job interview it’s usually because your application or resume led the reviewer to believe you could do the job they’re looking to fill. If you ask questions that indicate either that you really don’t know the job, or that sound as if you’re trying to learn the job by grilling the interviewer, your candidacy will end.
Any questions about the job itself should be related to issues such as specific challenges or workflows, but never about the basics of the job.
Have you ever gone on a job interview and asked a question that blew your chances to get hired?