20 Questions You Can’t Afford To Ask During An Interview : Under30CEO 20 Questions You Can’t Afford To Ask During An Interview : Under30CEO
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20 Questions You Can’t Afford To Ask During An Interview

| August 28, 2013 | 15 Comments


The best interview is one conducted as a two-way professional conversation. You are not only there to prove yourself to the company, but further, to determine if you can do your best work there, if your goals are aligned with those of the employer, and if your career objectives can be accomplished through the organization. At the end of your interview, you should anticipate being asked, “Do you have any questions for me?” Never decline.

By refusing to pose a question, you show the interviewer you have not done your homework and are uninterested in the company’s initiatives. Do not pass up the perfect opportunity to prove your inquiring mind and potential role within the company. However, be careful what you ask! We’ve come up with 20 questions to avoid asking.

Tell me more about what your company does?

It’s your job to do your homework before the interview. Research the position ahead of time and NEVER ask a question that can be answered by Google.

How often do we get paid?

This makes you sound desperate, not eager. Are you interested in the position or the paycheck? At least during the interview, show how interested and excited you are about the work you’ll be doing.

What happened to the person before me in this position?

Maybe they got hired, maybe they got promoted – but you don’t know. You’re not renting an apartment and trying to figure out why the previous homeowners left. During your job interview, it’s best to stay away from questions like that unless the information is offered freely.

Tell me more about your background?

Asking your interviewer about their background can be considered too personal for some. Avoid offending or making them uncomfortable by skipping this question.

Do you monitor Internet usage or work email?

A company isn’t interested in someone who’s worried about these sorts of things. You’ll come across as someone who spends hours on Facebook during the workday instead of a person who uses their time effectively.

What’s the starting salary?

This is a make-or-break question for many people, and it’s undoubtedly important. However, surely that information is already provided elsewhere or it’s negotiable — upon being offered the position, that is. As tempting as it is to ask, wait!

If I’m hired, when can I start applying for other positions within the company?

If you haven’t even settled into a position with the company yet, how could you be looking to move already?

How quickly can I be promoted? How long before I get a raise?

Your salary conditions have yet to be discussed and you’re already looking for more power and more money. You may think this tells the employer that you’re eager but, in reality, it makes you look money-hungry and unwilling to prove your way to the top.

I heard (gossip gossip gossip). Is it true?

Don’t ask questions about rumors, such as “Is it true your CEO was fired because she was having an affair with her assistant?” That will tell the interviewer you’re more interested in gossip than you are about how your qualifications fit the job opening.

How many sick days do you allow?

This tells your employer that you either get sick often (which isn’t good for business or their health insurance coverage) or that you’re looking to see how much hookie you can play. Either way is a lose-lose.

What does your organization do?

You shouldn’t ask questions about the company that you could learn by just doing a little research, such as “What kind of products do you manufacture?” Before an interview, your job is to learn as much as possible about the company by perusing the company’s website and reading journal articles and news reports about the company.

Can I work from home if need be?

You’ve hardly been hired and you’re already looking to escape the office?

Will my work follow me home?

Obviously no one likes to leave the office, go home and do more work. But by posing this question, you’re implying that you are lazy and unwilling to go the extra mile to complete quality work – no matter how long it takes.

Am I expected to work weekends?

Again, this makes you sound lazy and unavailable. Employers want to know you’re an open book, excited and ready to dive in head first.

What kind of health package/benefits do you offer?

You’re not an employee yet. Although this is important information to know, if you move along in the interview process as a serious candidate for the position, benefits will be discussed with you. Wait until you’re offered the position before you start asking about benefits. See human resources for these kinds of inquiries, not the interviewer.

How lenient are your workday hours?

Anything similar to “How late can I be?” or “How many hours a week am I expected to work?” is foul territory. You haven’t been hired yet – these things will be learned once you’ve gotten the job.

How many vacation days do I get?

Again, you’re not even an employee yet and you’re looking for a getaway on your company’s dime?

How long is lunch?

Not only is it odd that this is already on your mind, it’s extremely irrelevant to the job position.

Will I have to take a drug test or do a background check?

The red flag has officially been raised. Suggesting there could be a problem with your criminal background or that you’re apprehensive about taking a drug test as a condition of employment will be detrimental to your interview.

Do I have to be at work everyday?

Anticipate that the answer is yes from the time you interview until your first week of work.

Since you’ll now be avoiding the above at all costs, try something safe like, “While researching your company, I learned that ________________. Can you tell me more about that?” Or show genuine interest in a recent project they’ve taken on that you would like to hear more about. Do your research, prepare and be yourself — you’ll nail it.

By Kayla Bibeau, of Fueled.  An award winning iPhone application development firm based in London.

Image Credit: thecampuscareercoach.com 

About the Author: Fueled

We are Fueled, a digital product design and development incubator globally recognized for its work in the mobile space. At Fueled, we don't just build apps; with teams of designers, developers and strategists based in New York, Chicago and London, we create visually stunning products that redefine the technical boundaries of today's mobile development standards. We've built award-winning iPhone, iPad and Android apps used by millions of people for clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies to up and coming startups including Barney's, Coca Cola, UrbanDaddy, JackThreads and MTV. We hold ourselves to the highest standard of usability, stability and design in every project that we touch.

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Category: Career Advice, Entrepreneurship

  • Erica Denise

    I am interested to know some questions that an interviewee should ask the interviewer.

  • C Chicano

    Kind of odd that this is in under30ceo, because they seem like employee job interview questions, instead of getting a business proposal, or finding executive talent, etc.

    Are these questions that candidates commonly asked in the past? They seem pretty obvious to be bad questions, like “how long is lunch” when it is called the lunch hour (they usually tell you if it is shorter).

    Why didn’t you put in these 2 not to ask the interviewer: “can you unroll your sleeves so I can see those hot smoking guns?” and “which days of the week do you wear this little red dress to the office?”

  • Tabitha4456

    wow good info ;p

  • http://Under30CEO.com/ Jared O’Toole

    Thanks C. At Under30CEO we focus on young people succeeding. This can mean a business or via a career they love.

    Whatever it is you’re looking to do we want to help 20-somethings get it right.

    We have been publishing a lot of career focused content along with topics like health, fitness and travel in the past few months.

  • http://jglimited.tumblr.com/ Jason P.

    Do ppl actually ask these questions? That’s crazy

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  • http://www.softship.com/ Ava Cristi

    Viable questions can be anything related to the duty of the position you’re aiming for, like what is your main responsibility or what kind of projects will you be taking part of. You can also ask about their regular routines in the work environment. It’s a pretty good idea to already learn about their business culture.

  • http://www.callboxinc.com/ Belinda Summers

    Some interview no-nos. Thanks for enumerating those Kayla. At least everyone would be aware what to do in their next job interview. :)

  • Paul R.

    While not at the initial interview, I did specifically ask about vacation and time off during the interviewing process. I told them straight out that I was at a stage in life where time off was equally as important to me as money. And yes, I got the position, negotiated salary, and additional vacation on starting.

  • Tyson Hartnett

    I recently asked the hiring recruiter what the turnover rate was. Good question, or not? it is a sales position, so I wanted to be prepared for what the environment might be.

  • djlewis

    I don’t think asking about working hours in a typical week is an unreasonable question. There will of course be some weeks where it’s crunch time and you need to put in those extra hours to move product, meet a deadline, or whatever it is that your current project entails and you should be willing to rise to meet those challenges.

    However, your life is not just your work and people need to know if they will have time to manage their other obligations. If you go into the job expecting a 50hr work-week in order to maintain family and other necessities and it turns out to be 70hr spread out over 6 days of the week nearly every week then you’re going to burn out pretty quickly. I’ve worked at a job where it was necessary to be at work 7 days a week nearly every week often until 10 or 11pm to meet the deadlines I had. I had no other obligations at the time so it was doable but that’s not something that a person with a family should reasonably be expected to do. If you quit your current job and wind up stuck in a place working 7 days a week you are not going to be happy. You should not be expected to go in blind with respect to the working conditions.

    If an employer balks at you wanting to know if you’ll be able to effectively balance your work and home-life then that is not an employer that I want to work for.

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