Most job seekers know that they should have some questions ready to ask during their job interview, but often the questions they ask actually hurt their chances of landing the job. So, best to be prepared (!) for the interview by having good questions ready.
Whatever you do, don’t ask these questions during your job interview!
Don’t Look Like a Slacker
These questions make it clear that you are only interested in the paycheck:
- Does anyone check your work here?
- How many breaks can I take during the day, and do I need to stay here on my breaks?
- How much time are we allowed for lunch? Is that fixed?
- How many paid sick days am I allowed each month?
- Is this company nasty about employees coming in on time and only taking [the standard time] for lunch?
- If we’re not very busy, can I leave early but still get paid for the whole day?
When you focus too much on how you can “work the system” to your personal benefit, you are not going to look like a dedicated employee. You will look like someone who just wants a paycheck and won’t be very concerned about the quality of your work.
Employers don’t want to hire people who don’t care about doing a good job. Hopefully, you do really care and are just being inept or unprepared when you are tempted to ask those questions.
Don’t Look Uninterested
These questions make you look uninterested and unprepared. Not impressive:
- What does this company do?
- How long has this company been in business?
- How big is this company?
- What’s your job?
Take the time to find the answers to those questions before the interview. Put Google and LinkedIn to work for you. You have too much competition to risk looking uninterested in the job. Demonstrate the kind of employee you would be by being prepared. [See Knock Their Socks Off in a Job Interview for details.]
Don’t Wave Too Many Red Flags
These questions raise issues about your character that will probably derail a job offer pretty quickly:
- Will I have to pass a drug test? How much notice will I get?
- Do you require background checks?
- Will I be required to spend much time working with or for [name of minority, age group, gender, or group with a specific sexual preference, etc.]?
- Does the company monitor email and Internet use?
- Can I buy you dinner and a drink after this is over?
These are pretty obviously bad questions. Employers want to hire people who will stay in the job, doing good work and being pleasant to work with, and the people who ask these questions probably don’t qualify.
Don’t Ask Some Important Questions Prematurely
These are important questions, but the job interview process is not the time to ask them. The best time to ask these questions is during the negotiations after you have been offered the job:
- When can I expect to be promoted?
- When will I get my first raise?
- What are the benefits with this job?
Some or all of these questions may be answered on the employer’s website as part of their “marketing” to attract the best candidates for the job. If they aren’t, asking them during the negotiations – not during the interview process – is appropriate.
These questions are appropriate after you’ve been on the job a few months:
- Can we change the hours on this job? Is flextime available?
- Can I telecommute to this job a few days a week?
Once you have proven your reliability and value to the organization, they will be much more flexible about the hours and telecommuting, if they can be. So, waiting until you have a good track record before you ask make it more likely you’ll get the answer you want. Plus you will have an opportunity to see if anyone else has flexible hours or is telecommuting.
More About Questions to Ask During a Job Interview
© Copyright, 2013, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at@jobhuntorg and on Google+.