Maybe I Shouldn’t – Questions You Should Never Ask at Your Interview

To ask, or not to ask?

It’s an important consideration when you’re in the midst of a job interview. On the one hand, asking good questions just might land you the job. Thoughtful, relevant questions:

  • give your interviewer a chance to learn more about you and your potential fit for the job;
  • highlight your preparedness for the interview;
  • convey your genuine enthusiasm for the position.

But on the other hand, asking the wrong questions can be an immediate deal-breaker. Here are four you should maybe definitely never ask in an interview:

“What does the job pay?” (or) “What are the benefits?” (or) “How much vacation time will I receive?”

In an initial interview, any question you ask related to salary, benefits or time-off could raise a huge, red flag with your interviewer. It makes you appear more concerned about what you’ll get than making a meaningful contribution in the position.

Unless the interviewer brings up the topic, wait until you’ve actually been offered a job to discuss pay and benefits.

“What are the hours?”

Employers don’t want to hire clock-watchers who are just waiting for their work day to end. So although your reason for wanting to know works hour may be legitimate (i.e., you’re trying to figure out child-care logistics), it’s best to wait until you’ve been offered the position to broach the subject.

“Who is your biggest competitor?”

In an interview, you want to show how well you’ve prepared. That preparation includes researching the employer’s competition. So although this question seems smart and relevant at first glance, the answer is actually something most interviewers would expect you to already know.

A better option? Formulate a question about a specific competitor, to show that you’re well versed on who the employer competes against.

“Questions? No, I’m all set.”

Not having any follow-up questions is just as bad as asking inappropriate ones. If you don’t ask relevant questions of your interviewer, they will likely assume one of the following:

  • you don’t give a hoot about the job;
  • you don’t understand the role or the industry;
  • you’re so desperate, you’re willing to take any job at all.

Make sure your interviewer draws the correct conclusions about your candidacy, by asking the right questions in your next interview.


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