A job interview is a two way street. The employer wants to establish if you’re the right fit for the company. You, on the other hand, should be trying to work out if these are the kind of people you want to work with, and if this environment will allow you to flourish to the best of your ability.
Don’t just sit there mute and shake your head when asked if you have any questions, but at the same time refrain from asking something that might jeopardise your chances of getting the job.
So, how do you navigate this minefield?
Here are our five top tips for interview questions you must avoid if you’re serious about the job.
Don’t ask the interviewers what the company does
Do your homework thoroughly beforehand. If you don’t know by now what the company you’re interviewing for does, should you really be here at all?
You want to show the interviewers that you are not only knowledgeable and keen to join their team, but that you would be an asset to them. So ask relevant, intelligent questions about the company or your potential role such as:
Can you show me some examples of projects that I’d be working on?
How do you see this position contributing to the success of the organisation?
Make it clear that you’ve done your homework. They will appreciate an engaged conversation and value your inquisitiveness.
Don’t ask questions that a simple google search could have answered
You want to demonstrate to the interviewers that you aren’t just another candidate for their job. You want them to see you as someone who will add value to their team and that you have the passion and drive to succeed.
Ask questions that are personal to you and make yourself memorable for the right reasons. Make them focus their full attention on you with questions such as:
How do I compare for the job in comparison with the ideal candidate?
Do you have any concerns about me or about my qualifications that may prevent you from selecting me for the job?
Don’t ask the interviewer personal questions
You don’t want to come across as weird or creepy. It’s ok to make polite conversation, but keep away from hot topics like ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, children, age or lifestyle choices.
Keep it professional and keep it relevant. Something along the lines of:
Why do you like working here?
If you are still trying to figure out if you and the company would be a good fit, ask about their experiences working here or about their career path to date (if relevant). See if it’s in line with your plans and future career aspirations.
Don’t ask how quickly you will be promoted
Ask this question and you will look arrogant and no one wants to work with an arrogant person. Instead be enthusiastic and demonstrate that you will add value to the company, focus on simply getting the job at this stage. You can always find out about promotions when you actually start.
If this is of serious concern to you, then frame the question in such a way as to keep it broad and not specific to you:
Does the company offer professional training?
What are the three most important skills needed to excel in this position?
What is the typical career trajectory for a person in this role?
Don’t ask about background checks, their drugs policy or if the company monitors email
Don’t be that shady candidate. Assume that they will, or have, run background checks on you. Assume that they have a no-drugs policy. And why would you be sending dodgy emails at work anyway?
Just avoid asking any questions that make you look suspicious or that you have something to hide.
In general asking questions is a great way to highlight your suitability and enthusiasm for the role. Asking unacceptable or inappropriate questions will only leave them with a bad impression of you, and that is not going to get you the job.