8 questions not to ask in your interview
In an interview it can be tricky to shift gears from answering questions to asking them, especially if you don't have a lot of interviewing experience and if you're not ready for this you can easily blow your chances. You've got to ask something, otherwise you'll come across as uninterested or ill-prepared. But if you ask about the wrong areas, you can quickly undo any positive impressions. The more questions you have prepared, the better, in case some of them get answered earlier in the interview. Good things to ask about include the company culture, how the company is looking to solve its biggest problems and what its medium and long-term ambitions are.
But, if you're bringing up any of the below questions, you could be raising unnecessary red flags in the mind of your interviewer and that can put you at a serious disadvantage.
What does the role involve?
Your potential employer should already have provided a comprehensive description of the role's duties and responsibilities by this stage, so asking basic questions about the job itself will leave you looking unprofessional and poorly prepared. Interviewers will wonder whether you're really interested in a position if you haven't taken the time to study what's involved. While you can of course ask for more clarity on any aspects you're unsure of, you should refer back to the resources provided.
Who are your competitors?
Similarly, any questions that should be answerable with a simple Google search will show that you haven't done adequate research beforehand. Asking about what the company actually does or who its competitors are should be chief among these and will almost certainly raise doubts about your competence. Instead, you should be able to show you already have a clear idea of your prospective employer's place in the industry and how they differentiate themselves.
Do you have any other open positions?
It's vital to remember you're applying for a specific role, not just a position at the company. You may think asking about opportunities in other parts of the business will show you're excited to be part of their brand, but that's not what HR managers are looking to hear. They want people who can show they're passionate about the actual position they're interviewing for and won't immediately be looking for the grass on the other side of the fence.
How quickly can I be promoted?
While it's always good to show you're thinking about professional development, being too focused on promotion can often come across as arrogant. This is a leading reason for employers to pass on a candidate - interviewers will decide that you're not only assuming you've got the job, but you already think you're too talented for it. What's more, as is the case with the above question, it suggests you're looking too far down the road instead of focusing enough on the role you're actually interviewing for.
Will I be able to work from home?
Asking about flexible or remote working is something that shouldn't come into play until an offer has been extended. While attitudes to work-life balance are changing in many businesses, managers often still view home working as a privilege that has to be earned, so bringing it up at the earliest possible opportunity is not only presumptuous, but can signal a lack of commitment. It can also give the impression - rightly or wrongly - that you aren't interested in engaging with your future colleagues or being a team player.
When will I be able to take annual leave?
Likewise, all discussions of holiday allowances and other benefits are best left until later in the process. Asking about this tells employers that your priorities are more about what the company can offer to you, rather than the benefits you can provide to the employer. If you're successful in your initial interviews, there'll be plenty of time to discuss and negotiate holiday and other benefits at the offer stage.
How often do you review pay?
In fact, asking any questions about salary or benefits can set the wrong tone. You’re being interviewed to assess your skills and how your personality would fit into the culture of the organisation and work team. Asking about salary could easily cause them to see you as someone less interested in the organisation and more interested in making money for personal gain. This can start to indicate that you might be a higher-risk hire, which is not how you want to be seen. Hold off on salary and benefit questions until you receive an offer.
Asking about salary and benefits during your interview can set the wrong tone. You’re being interviewed to assess your skills and how your personality would fit into the culture of the organization and work team. Asking about salary when your interviewer is assessing your personality could easily cause them to see you as someone less interested in the organization and more interested in making money for personal gain. That could cause them to see you as someone who’d take another offer or leave their organization the moment more money was offered. That starts to point toward you being a higher-risk hire, which is not how you want to be seen when there are plenty of other highly qualified, less risky candidates. Hold off on salary and benefit questions until you receive an offer. That’s widely seen as an appropriate time to ask questions and negotiate.
Can we meet for a coffee?
Finally, resist the temptation to try and bring the conversation around to your interviewer's personal life or arrange an informal meeting. You may think this can help build a rapport and forge a connection that will help your chances come decision time, but this often isn't the case. Remember this is a professional process and respect boundaries. This doesn't mean you can't network - if your interviewer seems engaged and friendly, sending a follow-up email to discuss professional experiences can work in your favour.
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