“Do you have any questions for me?” is the standard final question you can expect as your interview nears the end. If you’ve been properly prepping for the big interview, then you have been researching the company and you have intelligent and engaging questions ready for the interviewer in response. Remember, interviews should be a two-way street, a conversation. The company wants to know about you just as much as you want to know about the company. You’re both aiming for a win-win situation. Asking great questions can turn even the most hopeless interview around; conversely, asking bad questions can be a death sentence for what started as a great interaction. If you want to avoid asking bad questions, follow these tips:
1. Avoid Personal Questions
In general, it’s best not to ask personal questions or questions relating to any personal items (desk photographs, marital status, etc.). These can sometimes create awkward situations. Some examples of personal questions to avoid:
What is the astrological sign of the president/CEO?
Are you single?
Did you adopt your child?
Do you like being a parent?
2. If You Can Easily Google it, Don’t Ask it!
The interview is a crucial opportunity to sell yourself by demonstrating that you are interested in the job and eager to find the right career match (i.e. the company for which you are interviewing). Asking questions about information you should have picked up in your pre-interview research will make you look unprepared and oblivious. Here are a few examples of obvious questions you should already know the answers to:
What does your company do?
How many offices do you have?
Do you do business with companies that violate human rights?
3. Avoid Questions that Demonstrate a Lack of Interest in Work
Your boss is more interested in hiring a hard worker or high achiever than someone who is looking to simply pay rent and just get by. If you are interviewing for your goal position, whatever you do, you’ll absolutely want to stay away from these questions:
What will my salary be?
Will I have to work long hours?
How soon can I take a vacation?
What’s the vacation policy?
Yes, your salary and vacation time are important information, but you’ll want to save these questions for later in the interview process. These are questions that Human Resources will typically raise at the appropriate time and before you receive the offer letter. Be patient.
4. Avoid Questions that Demonstrate Self-Entitlement
No one wants to work with an egomaniac. Or the opposite, someone who needs constant reinforcement. Some questions that will lump you into this category:
When will I be eligible for a raise? A promotion?
Do I get my own office?
What happens if I don’t get along with my boss or colleagues?
I won’t have to work for someone less educated, will I?
How did I do? Did I get the job?
5. Avoid Questions that Point to Drama
When it comes to your future employer, drama queens need not apply. You don’t want to come across as having a pension for gossip or trouble! These questions will be sure to set off red flags for your interviewer:
I heard a rumor about the CEO/company/stock. Is it true?
Do you monitor emails and phone calls?
How many warnings do you get before you’re fired?
Is it easy to get away with stuff around here?
Instead, Try This Questioning Strategy
The best interviews are interactive, so ask open-ended questions that will get the conversation flowing. Ask Why questions—as they pertain to the goal of the position. Ask How questions—they will help you do your job if you get hired. Asking these types of questions will demonstrate to the interviewer that you have the right motivations and want to be successful in the role.
Don’t Wait Until the End to Ask Engaging Questions
Walk into an interview with your ears wide open and a receptive attitude. Be prepared to ask questions during the interview—it shows you’re listening. If you are really interested in the company and the position, you should naturally have questions anyway. If necessary, jot down questions before you go to the interview. You can also jot down questions during the interview as new information is revealed. These conversations are never predictable, and you don’t know the interviewer’s state of mind (Energetic? Tired? Excited? Apathetic?), so don’t expect a set script or plan of action that you can follow. Just use your resume to answer as many questions as possible and remember why you are there: You are the best candidate!