Questions Not to Ask at a Job Interview

Congratulations! You have passed the selection process and gotten an invitation to a job or internship interview. Now it's time to prepare. Most likely, towards the end of the meeting the interviewer will ask you whether there is anything you would like to ask the company about the position. Here’s our advice: make sure you ask the right questions! There are certain questions you should know not to ask.


waiting for job interview
Asking the right questions could help you stand out from your competitors.

This is a great opportunity to set yourself apart by showing your interest in the position and a bit of your personality. However, some questions will do you more harm than good. To avoid making a bad impression that will lower your chances of getting hired, here are some questions not to ask at a job interview:


1. So what does your company do?

Remember, employers are looking for enthusiastic and motivated people, and this is exactly the impression you want to give off in an interview. Never ask a question that implies you didn’t have enough initiative or interest to do your research. In fact, you should already know as much as you can about the company even before you apply to be able to tailor your CV and cover letter accordingly.

Instead: Ask about the company’s culture, values or leadership styles. Maybe even sneak a few facts about the company into the question. This will help to determine how comfortable working there is going to be for you and show how enthusiastic you are about the position.


2. What will I need to do?

Feeling so nervous you forgot the job description? Print it out and bring it with you to review before the meeting. The reason for not asking this question is similar to the previous one: you don’t want to demonstrate a lack of preparation. Understandably, you might be applying for multiple jobs at once and most of their job descriptions will be a bit different. But don't be caught unprepared. Know exactly who you are interviewing for and the type of job it is.

Instead: Ask for an example of a specific project you would be working on once hired.


3. Should I come to work every day?/Can I work from home?

Many of us would prefer to have a flexible working schedule: you know, working in your pajamas and avoiding a stressful early-morning commute. However, for those of us who are just starting their career journey, working in an office can be a highly valuable experience. You will learn the unwritten rules of business etiquette, master the art of email communication and get to know other experienced professionals, all of which is very important for your future career. Don't show the recruiter your reluctance to come to the office everyday even before you’ve been granted a permanent desk!

Instead: Ask about the work dynamics of the office. Will you be working closely with a large team, working mostly independently, or somewhere in the middle? Different people excel in different work environments, so it's important to know where you'll fit in. If this has already been discussed in the interview itself, be sure not to ask this and sound like you've forgotten!


stand out at job interview
Show you are the right fit by asking questions that illustrate a genuine interest in the position.

4. How much will I get paid?/Can you pay me more?

Of course, money is important, and you need to know how much you will be earning to be able to plan your budget. However, asking this at the first interview might give the impression that you are more interested in the compensation than the actual job. Even if this might be the case, just wait until the later stage of the selection process to clarify all the practicalities such as salary, benefits, time off etc. Many job postings offer the information about salary already, so make sure you remember what they are offering.


5. How did I do?

Do not put the interviewer on the spot by asking for feedback straight away. There are probably other candidates invited to an interview and your performance will be judged against them. You can also come across as lacking confidence if you immediately seek validation; a confident candidate will be comfortable in their performance.

Instead: Ask about your next steps and when should you expect to hear from the recruiter. Make sure you have an email address or a contact number so you can touch base after a few days to show you are still interested in the position. It never hurts to let the recruiter know that you are enthusiastic!


6. No questions at all

Good questions make you look professional, while no questions demonstrates a lack of interest. If it is one of your first interviews, you might be understandably anxious, so it is a great idea to prepare a couple of questions in advance. Don’t miss this opportunity to show that you have done your homework and are genuinely interested in the job.


7. My mom/dad says…

Believe it or not, we didn’t make these up, but actually witnessed candidates say these things during interviews. Technically this doesn't count as a question, but it's important to remember. While we are huge believers in parents’ wisdom and authority, mentioning what they think to the HR manager is probably irrelevant and shows a lack of maturity and inability to form your own opinions. Remember, employers value independent thinkers who are able to rely on their own judgement and take decisive actions.

Instead: Talk about a situation in previous job or study where you were able to demonstrate leadership qualities, mature personality and responsibility. If certain lessons your parents have taught you are very important to you, focus on the idea itself and how you have lived your life by it.


be professional at job interview
Always come across as professional. Remember all the questions not to ask!


Remember, the interview is a two-way process. Not only is the company making a decision about you, but you’re also making a decision whether you actually want to work for them. If you are living abroad and want to know more about how to perfect your English language skills for a job at an English speaking company, check out our Business English and Career Essentials courses. Good luck!

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