- Don't Ask That!
The person that said “no question is a dumb question” certainly wasn’t referring to interviewing. Unfortunately, you can lose a chance at a job offer by simply asking the wrong question at the wrong time. Conversely, the opposite is also true. Let’s take a look at several questions you should not ask during interviews.
1. This first one isn’t really a question but it covers this topic quite well. Don’t ever say, “I don’t have any questions.” When you don’t have any questions, the interviewer will be left to conclude that you really don’t have any interest in the job or their company. The last thing you want an interviewer to think is that you don’t really care. We suggest, even if you already know (or think you know an answer to a question), ask it so you show engagement and interest in working there and the job.
2. “Can you tell me what your company does?” Why would you ask this? Of course, you would ask this if you didn’t do any research on the company before going to the interview. At a bare minimum, interviewers expect you will have “Googled” them to see what it is they do and how they represent themselves to the general public. Now, if you understand what it is they do but want them to clarify the segment of the market they target, then, it is an okay question to ask. Reason being, it shows insight into knowing their industry has multiple segments, etc. It’s always good to show business acumen.
3. “Do you have a work from home policy?” It is our belief this would be a differentiator for the position and would always be listed as one of the benefits. If it is not mentioned, you shouldn’t bring it up. The only thing this question could convey is negative thoughts in the mind of the interviewer. On the other hand, if working from home is a requirement of yours then you should ask it because you don’t want the job if it doesn’t offer some work from home option.
4. “How important is being on time and attendance?” This question would send up red flags everywhere. Of course, attendance and being on time is of high importance. You can’t be an effective employee without making these a priority!
5. “What do I need to do to get a raise?” or “When can I expect to receive a raise?” Questions like these that speak to compensation are always to be avoided. You should only talk compensation when the interviewer brings up the topic. And when they do, you should be excited because interviewers only bring up the topic when they are interested in what you have to offer.
6. “What amount of vacation should I expect to get?” Vacation is commonly accepted as being part of any compensation package. You can assume most companies will negotiate on their policy, if necessary. No need to bring this up early in the conversation. Better to hash this one out at offer time. Of course, if the interviewer brings it up then you need to tell them what you expect. Don’t ever be bashful in telling them what you have to have.
7. “Do you perform background checks?” or “Does your company require pre-employment drug testing?” These questions will immediately have the interviewer “jumping to the conclusion” you will not successfully pass these tests! Most companies have a policy to perform both of these; you should assume the answer to these is going to be yes and not give them any reason to be concerned.
8. “What are the criteria you use during your performance reviews?” Even if you are genuinely interested in finding out what is important to them, avoid this question or any others that refer to reviews. This can “plant a seed” of concern in the mind of the hiring manager about how well you will perform overall because you must be asking this question due to having performance issues in the past.
We can definitely think of a few others and are sure you can as well. This isn’t an exhaustive list but one that might address some questions that could be thought of being a good question to ask, on the surface, but if you really think about it, are really risky!
Good questions are always centered on the job itself and where the function fits within the overall organization. Be sure to avoid questions that scream “so what’s in this for me?” Interviewers are focused on what you can do for them so ask questions that help them better understand “what’s in this for them!”
About the author
Jim Shelton is a veteran of the recruiting industry and has been honing his craft since the late 90’s. His recruiting focus is Information Technology and Software Engineering. He enjoys helping people become the best they can be. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org