Tech & Work

Questions you should never ask in an interview

When an interviewer asks if you have any questions, that is not the time to see what you can get from a company.

A lot of people are solidly prepared to answer questions of a hiring manager during an interview. Unfortunately, many job candidates are not as prepared to ask interviewers questions. The questions you ask a hiring manager are very important and weigh heavily in their ultimate decision on whom to hire.

Making sure you are asking the right questions can be a tough task - candidates need to be aware that this remains part of the test, not just a fact finding mission for them. Creative staffing firm, Vitamin T, has seen some truly bizarre questions asked in interviews.  Some that might definitely send the wrong message to a prospective employer actually pop-up with alarming regularity. Susie Hall, president of Vitamin T, sent these examples of questions asked that she considers off-limit:

  • How quickly do I accrue vacation time?
  • How often can I work from home?
  • Do you pay for parking (cell phones, car allowance, sodas, gym memberships, etc)?
  • Can I bring my dog to work?
  • How often will I get paid?

Ms. Hall says, "Bottom line: An interview should be about what you can give to a company, not what you can get from a company. Save those questions for the offer stage, after your prospective employer has determined you're the right person for the role. 'Selfish' is not on the shortlist of any desired skills list I've ever seen!"

So, what kinds of questions should you ask? First, you should do your research on the company at which you're interviewing and ask questions about it, e.g., "I know that you're currently concentrated in the xyz product. Where do you see the company taking that in the next few years?" But beyond company specifics, you need to find out how good the fit will be for you. Ask questions like the following:

  • How would you describe the responsibilities of the position?
  • How would you describe a typical week/day in this position?
  • Is this a new position? If not, why did the previous employee leave?
  • Is travel expected?
  • Is relocation a possibility?
  • What is the typical work week like?
  • Will there be overtime?
  • What do you like about working here?


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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