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Questions You Should Avoid Asking During an Interview

As career experts, when preparing our candidates for interviews, we typically stress the importance of preparing well thought out questions to ask the hiring manager. In general, the more questions you ask, the more prepared and interested you will seem. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every question is a good one. Asking the wrong thing may come across as inappropriate, inconsiderate, entitled, or even disinterested. Here are a few questions you should steer clear of next time you’re given the opportunity to interview with a company:

What does your company do?

Though fairly obvious, not knowing what the company does shows A) a lack of preparation for the interview, and B) a lack of consideration for the interviewer. Employers tend to hire people who are ready to get the ball rolling and make contributions to the company immediately. Though it is true that in most cases, when starting a new job, there is a training and learning period, it is also true that employers want to hire people who don’t need to be directly educated on the company’s objectives; something that could’ve easily been done through research prior to the interview. Employers want someone who shows initiative and has taken it upon him or herself to research the company. A better question to ask is, “I see that your company’s mission is x, y, and z. What do you believe to be the qualities that make your employees successful in accomplishing company goals?”

How much/often do we get paid? Do you get paid for overtime? What benefits/vacation time do we get?

Discussing compensation is something that should be done when the hiring manager brings up the topic; definitely not during a first or second round interview. Hiring managers look for candidates who are interested in the position because they want to contribute to the company, not someone who is blatantly more interested in the pay than finding out more information about the company and the opportunity. The same sentiment applies to questions regarding benefits and vacation, which are usually the last things discussed as part of the benefits package. A more subtle way to inquire about company perks is to ask questions pertaining to company culture, teamwork, and the best things about working at the organization.

Can I do this job from home?

Interviewers don’t just look at qualifications and experience when selecting a candidate for a position; especially when interviewing a large pool of candidates. To narrow down their list of candidates, they will look for other qualities that make some candidates stand out – in good and bad ways – more than others. They also seek out applicants who are personable and compatible with the rest of their staff. When you join a company, you typically join a team. Employers may be turned off by or get the wrong impression of candidates who ask this question in the first or second round of the interview process. If your particular circumstances do require you to work from home, you should ask about setting up some sort of arrangement later in the interview process, after the hiring manager has had a chance to evaluate your strengths and see all the value you could bring to the organization.

Will I have to take a drug test? Does this company monitor Internet usage?

While there is no direct connection between these two questions, they both may raise some red flags in the eye of the interviewer. Asking a question about drug tests may suggest that you have something to hide. An inquiry related to internet monitoring may lead the hiring manager to question your productivity levels, compromising your eligibility. Both questions are unprofessional and should be avoided at all costs.

To avoid putting your foot in your mouth and landing yourself in a potentially awkward situation, it is best to avoid asking these questions. If you arrive at an interview prepared, professional, and courteous, you shouldn’t have a problem leaving a positive, lasting impression. Remember, the way you present yourself is just as, if not more, important than the stats on your resume.

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