4 questions you shouldn’t ask during a job interview

During or at the end of a job interview you will be expected to ask questions, and if you don’t you will probably come across as uninterested in the role. Whatever you ask during the interview should be relevant and important to you and the employer.

Here is a list of the 4 questions you should never ask in an interview – assuming you’d like to see a job offer!

1. What products and services do you offer? 

Having little idea what a company does shows you care little about the role.

If you ask this question you are basically telling the employer that you haven’t bothered to do any research into what the company does, who their customers are, and what their plans are for the future – you know nothing Jon Snow!

If you don’t know what the company does then why are you even applying in the first place?

An employer wants to hire someone who is passionate and knowledgeable about the role and the business. This type of question is not a very good opener and should never be asked if you want to stand any chance of success in an interview.

This article by the Guardian explains how to research a company before the interview.

2. When will I be eligible for a promotion? 

An employer is looking for someone to fill a particular gap in their workforce, at least in the short term.

As eager as you may be to move quickly up the ladder, the employer may not be too pleased to hear that you plan to exit the role as soon as you can. Although you may feel that your ambition could prove a winner in the interview, this kind of ambition is not going to help you at all.

Unless otherwise stated in the job advert, the employer is looking to hire someone to a permanent position, and at the very least would hope that a new employee would be committed to the role for a good period of time – i.e., years rather than months. If you indicate at this stage that you will instantly be pushing for a promotion, you are not going to be of help to the employer who is looking to find a more permanent solution to the vacancy.

If you do have the desire to be promoted quickly within the organisation, make sure you keep this to yourself. Once you are in the role and have proved your worth, you make your intentions known by showing an interest in positions with more responsibility – but be careful not to spring into action too quickly and come across as overconfident.

Keep in mind also that if your CV was deemed to be suited to a higher role, you are more likely to have been rejected in the first place.

Read this article by Fast Company to learn some alternative ways to ask about career progression.

3. Do I get sick pay and how much holiday will there be? 

Asking questions about sick pay entitlement and the amount of holidays you get per year could ring alarm bells for the employer. Are these questions that important to you, or would you rather ask the interviewer something related to the daily tasks?

If you really want to know the answer to these questions you should consider first, what is the most important aspect of the job you’re applying for? To achieve job satisfaction you should focus more upon the daily tasks and routines, as this is what you’ll be spending your time doing each day.

An employer could easily assume that you want to know about sick pay because you are prone to having a lot of time off due to illness. Everyone gets a cold from time to time, but if you are someone that is constantly off work due to poor health, you are not going to be a reliable employee.

If however you do have a medical condition that requires some adjustments and/or a holiday booked that’s just around the corner, let the employer know once you’ve received a job offer so they can make any arrangements necessary.

“Company benefits [and salary negotiations] should never be discussed until an offer has been extended, the same principle applies to sick pay and holiday entitlement. It’s best to avoid any question that sounds like you assume you already have the position – unless, of course, your interviewer brings it up first.”

Capital Staff

4. How well did I do? 

Asking the interviewer for feedback could make them feel awkward and harm your chance of getting the job.

No matter how well you feel the interview went, this question should never be asked. It puts the interviewer in an awkward and difficult position, and something in which they wouldn’t be ready to answer as you’ve put them on the spot. It shouldn’t be asked in seriousness or as a joke – or it will likely backfire!

If the interview didn’t go as planned and they decide to be blunt and honest with you, then you could be left looking embarrassed and disappointed. On the flip side, the manager might decide to give you a great review which could leave you feeling betrayed if they don’t hire you. Perhaps worse than either of those outcomes, your question may be met with an awkward silence or nervous laugh – an indication that you’ve made the person feel uncomfortable, which won’t go in your favour.

Instead, you should just finish the interview by thanking them for their time and that you look forward to hearing from them soon. In addition, confirm that you would be happy to discuss anything further via phone, email or in person if they wish. If you later hear that you didn’t get the role, there’s nothing wrong with emailing the company to thank them politely for their time and to ask if they are able to provide any feedback to help you in the future.

“Now is simply not the time to ask this question. Yes, it’s good to demonstrate you are enthusiastic, but there is a line that can make you appear desperate, and asking this question definitely crosses that line. Plus, it puts the interviewer on the spot. Hiring managers may find this question rude. Almost nobody is in a position to make a firm offer until they’ve finished interviewing everyone and have followed up on references, and asking this question reveals a lack of empathy for the interviewers’ challenges and a lack of respect and understanding for the entire interview process.”

Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “The Humor Advantage”, in Business Insider

Further reading

Preparation is the key to a successful interview

6 job interview tips for success

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