10 Questions Not to Ask in an Interview

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Time to Read: 4 minutes

There’s a fine line between asking good and bad questions. It’s a subtle dance between showing genuine interest and demonstrating your due diligence. Too blunt, and you risk unsettling your interviewer. Too roundabout, and you may fail to make a good impression.

TL;DR

  • Avoid Showing Unpreparedness: Don’t ask questions that reveal a lack of research about the company or the role.
  • Don’t Prioritize Personal Benefits Too Early: Questions about salary, benefits, or work schedule should be saved until after a job offer is extended.
  • Avoid Questions Showing Immediate Discontent: Steer clear of inquiries that suggest you’re already looking beyond the role at hand, such as immediate promotion or criticism of current practices.

1. What does your company do?

Why it matters: It suggests you haven’t done any basic research and demonstrates a lack of initiative and preparation.

Instead: Review the company’s website and recent news articles to understand its mission, products, and industry standing.

Good Example: I’ve read about your company’s mission and recent projects. Could you share more about how these initiatives shape daily operations and the company’s future direction?”

2. Can I change my work schedule if I get the job?

Why it matters: Implies inflexibility and prioritization of personal convenience over job responsibilities. Employers value adaptability and commitment.

Instead: Wait for a job offer before discussing flexible working arrangements, showing you value the opportunity.

Good Example: Could you describe the work culture here, especially regarding work-life balance and flexibility?

3. How soon can I be promoted?

Why it matters: May appear as though you’re not interested in the current role. Indicates a lack of commitment to the position you’re applying for.

Instead: Express enthusiasm for the role and inquire about growth opportunities and career paths within the company.

Good Example: What are the typical career paths within the department, and how does the company support professional development and growth?

4. What are the benefits like?

Why it matters: Premature questions about benefits may seem self-serving. First impressions are crucial; show interest in the role and company.

Instead: Save questions about benefits after receiving a job offer.

Good Example: Can you share how the company invests in the well-being and growth of its employees?

5. Did I get the job?

Why it matters: Puts the interviewer in an uncomfortable position. It’s important to respect the interview process and decision-making timeline.

Instead: Follow up with a thank-you email, expressing your continued interest and asking about next steps.

Good Example: What are the next steps in the interview process?

6. Will I have to work long hours?

Why it matters: Suggests reluctance to fully commit to job demands. Employers seek candidates willing to contribute to success, even if it requires extra effort.

Instead: Research the company culture and read reviews to gauge work-life balance.

Good Example: What does a typical day look like for someone in this position?

7. Can I work from home?

Why it matters: May seem as though you’re not interested in being part of the team physically. It’s important to show willingness to adapt to the company’s working style.

Instead: Discuss remote work possibilities after receiving an offer, if relevant to the role. If it’s mentioned in the job description, it’s appropriate to bring up tactfully.

Good Example: How has the company adapted to remote work, and what are the expectations for remote vs. in-office presence?

8. How often do you give raises?

Why it matters: Focuses prematurely on compensation rather than the opportunity. Indicates a primary interest in money over job content and contribution.

Instead: Understand the role’s value and discuss salary expectations after an offer is made.

Good Example: How does the company evaluate and reward employee performance and contribution?

9. What happened to the person who had this job before?

Why it matters: Could be interpreted as prying into internal matters. It’s important to focus on the future and how you can contribute.

Instead: Ask about how the role contributes to the company’s goals and success.

Good Example: What growth opportunities might open up for someone in this role?

10. Can you tell me about your diversity and inclusion efforts?

Why it matters: While important, framing is crucial; poor phrasing may seem accusatory. Shows you value company culture and ethics.

Instead: Research the company’s public commitments to diversity and inclusion and frame your question to reflect knowledge and interest in contributing to those efforts.

Good Example: I value diversity and inclusion; could you share how these principles are integrated into the company culture and day-to-day operations?

The Bottom Line: Questions not to ask in an interview

Asking the right questions in an interview not just clarifies your understanding of the role but also solidifies your standing as a well-prepared and insightful candidate. It’s your chance to turn the tables and interview the employer, showing them you’re not just looking for any job—you’re looking for the right fit. 

Now that you know what not to ask, how about learning about the best questions to ask in an interview?

Join the GradSimple community to navigate your career path with confidence, armed with the knowledge and tools to make every interview a step towards success.

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