BETTER AVOID THESE QUESTIONS
IN JOB INTERVIEWS

Every HR manager is delighted when interviewing an enthusiastic candidate who can’t wait to ask his or her well-thought questions. After all, this demonstrates a certain amount of initiative and interest in the job – both important aspects to the potential employer. However, the positive picture may quickly fade when candidates ask a question that they should rather have avoided.

So, which are the worst questions to ask your interviewer, and why should you avoid asking them?

“How long does the interview take?”

This question might seem innocent enough, but by asking it, you are signalling to the interviewer that you have somewhere better to be. You may be a busy person, especially if you are already employed elsewhere, but asking how long the interview will go on for will put you in a poor light before the interview has even really started. Nonverbal cues can be equally damaging, for example, looking at your watch, glancing at the clock or acting nervous when an interview takes some time.

Avoid this situation by confirming the timings with your recruiter beforehand, and try to keep your diary free before and after the interview.

Questions you should know the answer to

Don’t let yourself down by asking something that you should have found out during your interview preparation. For example, do not ask when the company was founded or who the managing director is. You can obtain this information on your own in advance of the job interview. Instead, do your research and ask more in-depth questions which can’t simply be researched online, for instance: “How would you describe the company culture?” or “Is there much opportunity for growth within this role?” A few more examples like this are listed in the following paragraphs.

“Would I have to…”

Understandably, you may want to gain clarification on certain areas of the role during the interview process. However, starting any questions on this topic with “Would I have to…” signifies a reluctant and negative attitude.

Try phrasing these types of questions in a more positive and proactive way, for example: “I’m keen to know if the role could involve… as this is something I have really enjoyed doing in previous positions”.

"Do you get along well with your colleagues?"

By asking this question, you will be trying to gauge what your potential colleagues are like to work with. Of course, this is an important consideration for you, but asking such a question may make you seem ignorant about professional conduct. After all, realistically a senior member of staff isn’t going to answer anything other than “yes” to this question, and rightly so. On the other hand, if you ask the interviewer to describe the company culture or the team dynamic, you will seem much more professionally astute, whilst getting the information you are looking for.

"How fast do you get promoted?"

You may be keen to demonstrate your ambition, but this type of question risks the implication that you want to run before you can walk, and are not fully dedicated to the role in question. On the other hand, if you can make it clear that you understand career progression involves hard work and focus, this will put you in a better light.

Ask questions geared around the opportunities for personal growth within this role, e.g.: “When the time is right, would I have the opportunity to expand upon my skill set and responsibilities within this organisation?”

Be careful with personal questions

Please make sure that your questions are not too personal. Questions about marital status, age or salary are taboo. Also avoid the question what your interviewer does not like about his job.

What you can and should ask, however, are questions focused on career and the company. For example; “How has your role changed since joining the company?”, “What are your favourite aspects of the job?”, “What do you like about being in this industry?” or “What was it that attracted you to this organisation?“

Of course, use your judgement – if your interviewer makes informal small talk unrelated to the opportunity, e.g. about your weekend plans, then by all means reciprocate. These questions allow you to build a rapport with the interviewer, just make sure you don’t overstep the mark.

“Do I get the job?”

Lastly, you may think this is a great “closing question” and one which will help you overcome any reservations the interviewer has about you, but it just sounds confrontational. What you can do, however, is discreetly gauge this by asking something like “Is there anything you need me to clarify or confirm?” If you feel like the interview went well, you could say something like “I’m still very interested in this opportunity and the prospect of working for this organisation, I hope the feeling is mutual”. It’s all about knowing the difference between enthusiastic and confrontational.

Basically, keep in mind that your questions should always be asked professionally and positively. This will enable you to get the information you want and to impress at the same time – and thus to increase your chances of reaching the next level.