When preparing for an interview, it is always good to think about the questions you will ask your interviewer. After all, a meeting with a potential employer is a two-way street and gives you (the candidate) the opportunity to interview the company you are considering working for. This is very often a missed opportunity — you would do yourself a big favour by making the best possible use of it.
The questions you ask a potential employer are very telling and, if thought through, are a chance for you to present your skills, motivation, understanding and professionalism in an exceptional way.
Unfortunately, most candidates miss this opportunity to showcase their ability and instead ask unprepared, spur of the moment questions. This is a dangerous strategy as it may (and in many cases does) lead interviewers to make assumptions.
This is even more apparent when an interview is being conducted not in your first language, and even more risky when your interviewer is also not interviewing you in their first language.
Asking an interviewer questions is the time when you as the candidate can take control of the interview and showcase your ability on your terms. More importantly, this is something you can prepare for well in advance and can avoid the pitfalls of asking the wrong types of questions.
So what should you avoid asking? The list is long but here are my top 5.
1. How quickly would I be promoted?
By asking this question, not only are you showing that you are not interested in the job under discussion, but also asking about promotions without actually having shown anything tangible in terms of ability.
Instead, it is advisable to ask about the training opportunities and what would be required of you in order to prosper within the business.
2. I won’t have to do X (which is clearly marked on the job description) at this job, do I?
By asking this question, you are already putting up barriers and showing your potential employer that you are not interested in performing tasks that are clearly essential to this position. It is an immediate indication that you have the wrong attitude as well as your lack of basic interview preparation (as you did not read the job description).
3. Can I work-part time or work from home?
There are very few questions that will infuriate potential employers more then this.
If the position is not defined as part-time or work from home, then just don’t ask. It is an immediate conversation stopper and will make the interviewer feel that you are wasting their time.
4. I don’t think that doing X is important, would I be able to pass that work off to someone else in this role?
The company is looking to hire someone who will do X because they see it as important. This is why you are at the interview, and asking if you can pass it over to someone simply shows that you are not the person for the job.
5. What time do we finish work? or: Do I have to do overtime?
Although there is something like standard working hours, it can be expected in this day and age that you will sometimes work longer. Moreover, work is usually task-based, not time-based, and you should focus on task completion, not hours spent at the office.
More importantly, it is odd that you would take up valuable time, when you can ask the interviewer anything you want about the company, to check when you can go home.
Not only does it show that you are a clock watcher and will most likely leave when your work is not done but that you are indeed not motivated/passionate about your work.
There are of course many more questions that you should not ask but, the above 5 are the most common ones in my experience.
Think before you ask and please prepare strong questions AHEAD of the interview.
Do not ask things that you can learn from the hiring company's website.
Consider how your questions represent you and what they highlight. Remember that you have control of your questions so make sure to use them to make the right statement.
If you have any “bad” questions to not ask in interviews you would like to share, please get in touch.
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