interview mistakes

The job interview is the perfect time not just to answer questions but to ask them too. If you’re considering spending the next few years of your career with an employer, you must have all kinds of questions about the role, responsibilities, working culture and more.

But while the interview can give you a great insight into a job and a company, there are certain questions that just shouldn’t be asked. Whether they’ll come across as unprofessional, irrelevant or just plain rude, here are the things that the best job seekers avoid saying – and the much better questions you can ask instead to get the info you want.

‘When do I get a raise?’

Salary is a valid thing to ask about – after all, you wouldn’t be doing the work if you weren’t paid for it, and everyone wants to be well compensated for their hard work. By asking about raises and bonuses in the interview though, you’re getting ahead of yourself and might come off as aggressive. Bear in mind also that raises and bonuses are given depending on performance, so it’s almost impossible for your interviewer to say whether you’ll get a salary boost before you’ve even been offered the job.

A better question you could ask on this topic is ‘On what basis are performance reviews carried out?’ or ‘Does your company promote internal advancement? If so, can you give me an example of how this happened?’

‘What does the company do?’

Asking for basic details about the company you’re applying to is a major misstep as you should already have done all the research you need. If the interviewer can’t see evidence that you take enough of an interest in the company to do a simple Google search, they’ll seriously doubt your commitment to the work.

Any questions you ask about the company should be relevant things you couldn’t find out yourself for whatever reason. You could ask about their strategies and goals that might not be public knowledge. You may also want to know more about the company’s values, history, awards, community work or working culture.

‘Have I got the job?’

This is the burning question, but it doesn’t mean it’s right to ask so directly at this stage. Even if you gave an outstanding impression, the interviewer may still need to talk with colleagues and interview other candidates before giving the green light. There’s nothing wrong with being confident, but asking right away if you have the job comes across as either impatient or oblivious to the way things are done in a professional setting. You can get some insight by asking ‘When do you hope to make a decision?’ or ‘How do I compare to the other candidates for this role?’

‘What’s your policy on lateness?’

You might (or might not) be surprised at how many job candidates bluntly ask about an organisation’s tolerance for bad behaviour. Whether they ask about sleeping on the job or how closely the company monitors internet usage, questions on these lines will be setting off alarm bells inside the interviewer’s head. Because why would you ask how likely you are to be fired for taking drugs, unless you thought it was likely to happen to you?

We can’t suggest an alternative here – just stay away from the topic of discipline altogether as it will have a negative impact on the interview (and don’t plan to do anything that would get you in trouble at work!)

‘I don’t have anything to ask…’

Out of all of these though, almost the worst question you could ask though is none at all. You’re bound to have at least some questions for your interviewers, no matter how much you might have covered in discussion. Rather than staying silent, ask something like ‘What qualities do you think would help someone succeed in this position?’ or ‘What are this company’s goals for the coming years?’ Have a think beforehand about what you would want to know before starting work, and you should be able to come up with a few more.

Do you have any thoughts or contributions for today’s Blogtopus? If so, post a comment below.

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