20 Questions You Can’t Afford To Ask During An Interview

by / ⠀Career Advice Entrepreneurship / August 28, 2013


The best interview is one conducted as a two-way professional conversation. You are not only there to prove yourself to the company, but further, to determine if you can do your best work there, if your goals are aligned with those of the employer, and if your career objectives can be accomplished through the organization. At the end of your interview, you should anticipate being asked, “Do you have any questions for me?” Never decline.

By refusing to pose a question, you show the interviewer you have not done your homework and are uninterested in the company’s initiatives. Do not pass up the perfect opportunity to prove your inquiring mind and potential role within the company. However, be careful what you ask! We’ve come up with 20 questions to avoid asking.

Tell me more about what your company does?

It’s your job to do your homework before the interview. Research the position ahead of time and NEVER ask a question that can be answered by Google.

How often do we get paid?

This makes you sound desperate, not eager. Are you interested in the position or the paycheck? At least during the interview, show how interested and excited you are about the work you’ll be doing.

What happened to the person before me in this position?

Maybe they got hired, maybe they got promoted – but you don’t know. You’re not renting an apartment and trying to figure out why the previous homeowners left. During your job interview, it’s best to stay away from questions like that unless the information is offered freely.

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Tell me more about your background?

Asking your interviewer about their background can be considered too personal for some. Avoid offending or making them uncomfortable by skipping this question.

Do you monitor Internet usage or work email?

A company isn’t interested in someone who’s worried about these sorts of things. You’ll come across as someone who spends hours on Facebook during the workday instead of a person who uses their time effectively.

What’s the starting salary?

This is a make-or-break question for many people, and it’s undoubtedly important. However, surely that information is already provided elsewhere or it’s negotiable — upon being offered the position, that is. As tempting as it is to ask, wait!

If I’m hired, when can I start applying for other positions within the company?

If you haven’t even settled into a position with the company yet, how could you be looking to move already?

How quickly can I be promoted? How long before I get a raise?

Your salary conditions have yet to be discussed and you’re already looking for more power and more money. You may think this tells the employer that you’re eager but, in reality, it makes you look money-hungry and unwilling to prove your way to the top.

I heard (gossip gossip gossip). Is it true?

Don’t ask questions about rumors, such as “Is it true your CEO was fired because she was having an affair with her assistant?” That will tell the interviewer you’re more interested in gossip than you are about how your qualifications fit the job opening.

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How many sick days do you allow?

This tells your employer that you either get sick often (which isn’t good for business or their health insurance coverage) or that you’re looking to see how much hookie you can play. Either way is a lose-lose.

What does your organization do?

You shouldn’t ask questions about the company that you could learn by just doing a little research, such as “What kind of products do you manufacture?” Before an interview, your job is to learn as much as possible about the company by perusing the company’s website and reading journal articles and news reports about the company.

Can I work from home if need be?

You’ve hardly been hired and you’re already looking to escape the office?

Will my work follow me home?

Obviously no one likes to leave the office, go home and do more work. But by posing this question, you’re implying that you are lazy and unwilling to go the extra mile to complete quality work – no matter how long it takes.

Am I expected to work weekends?

Again, this makes you sound lazy and unavailable. Employers want to know you’re an open book, excited and ready to dive in head first.

What kind of health package/benefits do you offer?

You’re not an employee yet. Although this is important information to know, if you move along in the interview process as a serious candidate for the position, benefits will be discussed with you. Wait until you’re offered the position before you start asking about benefits. See human resources for these kinds of inquiries, not the interviewer.

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How lenient are your workday hours?

Anything similar to “How late can I be?” or “How many hours a week am I expected to work?” is foul territory. You haven’t been hired yet – these things will be learned once you’ve gotten the job.

How many vacation days do I get?

Again, you’re not even an employee yet and you’re looking for a getaway on your company’s dime?

How long is lunch?

Not only is it odd that this is already on your mind, it’s extremely irrelevant to the job position.

Will I have to take a drug test or do a background check?

The red flag has officially been raised. Suggesting there could be a problem with your criminal background or that you’re apprehensive about taking a drug test as a condition of employment will be detrimental to your interview.

Do I have to be at work everyday?

Anticipate that the answer is yes from the time you interview until your first week of work.

Since you’ll now be avoiding the above at all costs, try something safe like, “While researching your company, I learned that ________________. Can you tell me more about that?” Or show genuine interest in a recent project they’ve taken on that you would like to hear more about. Do your research, prepare and be yourself — you’ll nail it.

By Kayla Bibeau, of Fueled.  An award winning iPhone application development firm based in London.

Image Credit: thecampuscareercoach.com 

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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