Questions not to ask at an interview
Interviews can sometimes feel like awkward first dates. You go in hoping to impress, while being extremely weary of saying or doing the wrong thing. But sometimes our nerves get the better of us or we’re ill-prepared, and we end up asking questions we really shouldn’t. Make sure you steer clear of some of the more troublesome questions below, and have some powerhouse questions at the ready.
What are the salary/benefits for this role?
Unfortunately many job adverts don’t reveal salary. It can be frustrating to only know that it’s “competitive”, but if the recruiter isn’t willing to disclose these details, then it’s not for you to ask in the interview. While you have every right to know what you’ll be paid and what benefits you’re entitled to, there’s a time and a place for these questions – usually when you get a job offer and want to clarify the terms, or when you have a chat with the recruiter about the logistics of the role.
Don’t ask about drinking/party culture
Work culture is an extremely important aspect of any job. And sometimes work culture translates to drinking culture. You might find that the best way to get to know your colleagues is at the pub after five on a Friday, which is fine. But don’t ask the interviewer how common it is for all of them to go out together, or if they usually grab a drink after work. You can ask about office environment however – a more tactful, less direct way of getting to the bottom of how social the workplace is.
How quickly can I be promoted?
We admire your enthusiasm, and it’s always nice to see that a candidate is ambitious. But don’t ask questions that aren’t relevant to your immediate future at the company. Employers want to know that you’ll devote yourself to the job at hand, and that you won’t be waiting impatiently for the day you get a more important title or bigger salary. You can ask if there is opportunity for advancement though – this shows that you want to grow within the company, without going all Machiavelli on them.
Will I need to work late or on weekends?
If you’re working in the service sector or on a shift schedule then this might be a more appropriate question, as you’re trying to get your head around the days and times required of you. However if you’re interviewing for a traditional nine to five role, asking this will make it seem like you’re not keen on putting in more time and effort than what’s normally expected. Most likely you won’t be under any contractual obligation to stay late, but many employers will expect that you put in extra time where necessary (for example when it comes to meeting deadlines or finishing important projects).
Did I get the job?
This question is just opening you up to a world of hurt. Putting pressure on the employer to make a decision and acting impatiently will not reflect well on you. Instead, ask them what the next stage of the process is, and they’ll let you know what to expect (e.g. if there’s a second or third interview, a technical evaluation, etc). However if they feel you’re a viable candidate, they’ll usually volunteer this information before the end of your interview.
We’re sure you’ll do great at this stage of the hiring process, so try not to let interview-jitters get to you. You know exactly what not to ask now, so it’s unlikely you’ll jeopardize your chances with a poorly thought-out question.
If you’d like to read more tips on how to interview well, visit our interview advice section here.