It’s the end of your job interview. You’ve brilliantly answered all of your interviewer’s questions and have showcased your experience and skillset in such a way that they would be fools not to hire you. You’re ready to call your girlfriends to celebrate your inevitable job offer when your interviewer asks you one final question: “Do you have any questions for me?”
Hopefully, you’ve come prepared. Having smart, thoughtful interviewing questions to ask is a great way to show your potential employer that you are a serious candidate. By the same token, asking the wrong questions can sink your chances of getting hired. Below are 10 examples of questions that you should never ask in an interview.
1. What does the company do? You should always do your research on a company before an interview. This includes finding out what the company does, who their competitors are, who the important senior leaders are, and whether they’ve been in the news lately. Asking a question as basic as what the company does will only highlight your lack of preparation.
2. How soon can I get promoted? Hiring managers love to see ambition in their potential new employees, but asking how soon you can get promoted signals to your interviewer that you are not really interested in the job for which you’ve applied. If you are concerned about your growth potential at a company, you can ask something like, “What is the typical career path for someone in this role?”
3. How soon can I take vacation time? Perhaps you have a trip already planned or you haven’t had a vacation in two years and are ready for a break. Your interview is not the time to discuss such things. Wait until after you’ve been offered the job to talk about things like vacation and other benefits. If you are unhappy with the offer, you can always try to negotiate a better package.
4. Do employees get discounts? Everybody loves a good employee discount, but asking about this during the interview might make your interviewer think that you are only in this for the free goods. Employee discounts and other perks should be discussed only after you’ve received an offer.
5. What does the position pay? Salary discussions are often a part of the interview process, but like most things, it’s all in the timing. Avoid asking about compensation in the early rounds of interviews. Employers will typically broach the subject once they feel confident that you would be a good fit for the job. Only raise the compensation discussion when you’ve received an offer or when you have received strong signals that an offer is imminent.
6. Can I leave early if I get my work done for the day? While productivity rules the day in many companies, employers will undoubtedly be turned off by a candidate who seems to want to get in and get out. Employers are looking for team players, strong work ethics, and people who will go above and beyond. You won’t be doing yourself any favors by implying you’re only willing to do the bare minimum.
7. Can I work from home? Working from home has become a popular benefit companies offer. However, putting in face time is still the norm and unless this is an absolute deal breaker or necessity, you shouldn’t ask about their work from home policy during your interview. If you’re really curious, try to bring it up indirectly by asking questions like, “How would you describe the company’s work culture?” or “At my last job, some of the team members worked remotely. Does anyone work remotely here?”
8. Can I bring my pet to work? You love your dog. And why wouldn’t you? He’s adorable. Many companies, particularly start-ups, are open to allowing people to bring their pets to the office. But, most places still follow a traditional “no pets allowed” policy. If the company is pet-friendly, they will let you know.
9. Will I need to take a drug test? Asking this question will raise some serious red flags and give the impression that you have something to hide. Do not ask this question under any circumstances.
10. Not asking any questions. When a hiring manager asks if you have any questions, they’re doing so to evaluate how you think and to gauge your level of interest in the position. If you have nothing to ask, they may get the sense that you haven’t put any serious thought into the process and that you may not be interested in the role.
Most importantly, remember that interviews are not a one-way street. Asking questions is the only way you will know if this is the right job for you. If you’re stumped about what to ask, having some standard questions in your back pocket can be helpful, such as “What do you like best about working here?” or “What do you anticipate the next steps to be?”
Natalia Marulanda is a former practicing attorney who currently works on women's initiatives at a law firm New York City. She also runs The Girl Power Code, a blog dedicated to empowering women in the workplace and in their daily lives.
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