At the end of a typical job interview, most employers like to turn the tables and allow candidates to ask their own set of questions about the company and the job before the session comes to a close. It’s always a good idea for candidates to take advantage of this opportunity and ask for additional information, but some questions during this portion of the interview are wiser than others. Here are a few topics you should avoid.
1. Questions about minor perks.
Where will you park if you commute here by car every day? Are there gyms or daycare centers located on site? Will your workstation be a cubicle or an office of your own with a wall of windows? These are all reasonable questions, but they don’t really need to be addressed during your first-round interview. In your initial conversation with your potential employer, keep the subject focused on your credentials and larger details about the position and how the company works.
2. Questions about “promotions and raises” instead of “opportunities for advancement.”
Questions like: “How soon will I be promoted?” or “when will I receive a raise?” are perfectly legitimate, but not when they’re framed like that. Adjust the question to focus on what you have to offer (your ambition and enthusiasm) not what you have to gain (money and reward). Try asking: “What opportunities will I have to move forward here?” or “where can this company take my career in five years?”
3. Poorly framed questions about flextime and scheduling.
You have a right to know how much time your employers will expect you to contribute each week. And if flextime and working from home are important to you, you’ll need to be upfront about your needs and expectations. But put this topic on hold until after you’ve received an offer. Bring up the subject only if your employers ask a direct question, like: “How many hours a week are you willing to come into the office?” In this case, answer honestly.
4. Presumptuous questions about the salary for the position.
During your job interview, there’s no need to fawn, grovel, or act like any salary at all would be a gift. Obviously, you intend to provide your time and talent in exchange for fair compensation. But there’s a time and a place to open the floor to salary negotiations, and that time happens after you receive an offer, not before. During your interview, put questions about compensation on hold for a while.
5. Questions that reflect ignorance rather than curiosity.
What’s the difference between ignorance and curiosity? This is a very narrow grey area, but when you ask the interviewer about this company’s inventory management software, customer service philosophy, business model, back office accounting methods, or basic mission, make sure your question reflects your own professional experience. Be ready to place the answer you receive into an existing context, a framework of knowledge you already possess. Of course you don’t know everything—nobody does—but before you speak, review your words to make sure you don’t sound too naïve, untrustworthy, or untrained.
6. Questions that show you haven’t been paying attention.
As your interviewer speaks, take notes. Write down important points if you can, and if not, just take notes in your mind. But pay attention to every detail, and don’t ask you interviewer to repeat something she just spent ten minutes explaining to you.
Show Up to Your Interview Prepared
No matter what position you’re pursuing, don’t be caught off guard when your interviewer asks you if you have any questions. And by all means, don’t just sit there in silence. As with any challenge, practice and preparation can smooth the path to success. And a great resume can lay the groundwork for a focused and meaningful interview conversation. Visit MyPerfectResume for a resume builder that can accelerate your job search and lead to more offers.