Questions to Avoid Asking in an Interview

There is no doubt that job interviews are a two-way process. Employers have the opportunity to assess your fit with the organisation, and employees also get the chance to uncover more information about the company they are considering working for.

The best way of doing this is by asking questions when offered the opportunity by the panel. This usually happens towards the end of the interview. This is a chance to find out more, but don’t fall into the trap of just asking anything.

Questions, like every part of the interview process, require careful thought. Follow this advice to steer clear of question areas which could undermine your credibility as a future employee.

Money

Salary is, of course, an important consideration for the majority of jobseekers, but asking detailed questions about remuneration is likely to create an adverse impression.

In most cases you will already be aware of the general salary range and other benefits associated with the position, so focusing on this issue at interview makes it look like money is your primary concern.

Employers want to see your enthusiasm for the job-not the pay packet. There is plenty of time to work out salary and benefit details when you get that all important job offer, so hang back and be patient.

Competitors

Asking about company competitors may seem like a good idea- after all you are showing interest in their industry- but it is more likely to come across as lack of research on your part.

You should already know who they are up against- a simple Google search or scan of industry publications will give an insight into that- so starting a conversation about this at interview is a real no-no.

The same applies to asking general questions about the company and its future strategy. Do your homework in advance and know the answers to these questions so you can incorporate them into your earlier interview responses.

Holidays

Asking about time off before you’ve even got started is never a wise move. Even if you already have holiday arrangements in place and are concerned about a potential clash, the interview is not the time to bring this up.

You haven’t been offered the job yet so asking about holidays may look presumptuous and may also suggest a lack of commitment or focus on your part. Seeking out the escape tunnel at interview stage should therefore be avoided. It is also best to steer clear of questions about flexibility around the company work schedule including potential for part-time or home-working.

Again, this can be clarified at a later stage as highlighting the issue now may give the impression your priority is working around the job, and not the job itself.

Promotion

While it is perfectly acceptable, and indeed advisable, to ask about training and development opportunities at interview, directly enquiring about promotion tends to be counter-productive.

Although you want to subtly get across your desire to grow and develop as an employee and that may well, in time, lead to a new role, this interview is about the current job on offer and not a future one.

Asking when you could expect to be promoted is likely to indicate arrogance and impatience on your part- qualities most employers seek to avoid. Focus on the here and now rather than the future.

Having avoided these topics, take time to reflect on what you do want to find out at the interview and prepare a list of appropriate questions. For more tips check our successful interview guide on the Interview Skills website.

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