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the 6 worst questions to ask in an

The sun is out, the iced-coffees are flowing, the patios are packed. What better time to…interview? Yes! The early summer months are a great time to look for a new job or at the very least, to get out and build your network.

Consider this:

– Year-end goals are still a focus this time of year but the pressure isn’t on yet. You can be a solution!

– Most people wait until the end of the year to look for a new job and are in “summer” mode so the competition is less fierce.

Granted, some decision makers may not be in the office as regularly so the process can take longer but if you have patience, getting in during the summer months can have you a step ahead.

Imagine it: you’ve landed yourself an interview with a company that ticks all your boxes. You smoothly answer the questions asked, you’ve built a healthy rapport, things are going well.

Then the interviewer asks you if you have any questions. What do you do? Do you wing it? Do you start nervously asking silly questions so that you’re at least asking something?

As a former recruiter and business manager, I’ve interviewed hundreds of people. And the old saying of “no question is a bad question” is total BS. Interviewers are a prickly bunch; we’ve seen it all and have very little tolerance for what we perceive to be common sense (sad but true!). And truth be told, there are definitely bad questions.

But it’s ok. Here are a few to avoid and what you can and should ask instead:

1. Can I come in early/late/work flex time?

Questions that focus too much on specifics assume you already have the position. Not only that, they give the impression that you’re focused on the wrong thing- yourself and how many hours you intend to work. All employers want hard workers. Even if you’re not that, now isn’t the time to burst that bubble.

2. Can I work from home?

Unless the job description claims the position is flexible, as with the above, this question is presumptuous. Questions about work hours and flexibility are better received once you have a job offer. At this stage you can negotiate anything related to benefits, sick time, vacation days, etc.

3.How soon do you promote?SCM_web

This one is tricky because many people think it showcases their ambition to ask about a future position. And well, that’s partially true. But it’s a turn-off to someone whose goal is to fill the position for which you’re interviewing. A better question might be: Should the person in this position perform well, how do you see it growing in the future?

4. How much does the job pay?

Yes, you definitely need to know the answer to this Q but now is not the time to ask it. Doing so can make it appear as though you’re primarily interested in money, not the job itself. It’s considered bad ethic to ask this early on. It’d be like asking a first date how they feel about a pre-nup. Not a good time.

5. Who are your competitors?

While it may feel savvy, this question is anything but. Not understanding what the company does, who it serves and who it’s competitors are only “quiz” the interviewer. Worse than that, it only highlights that you didn’t do your research. A better question is: What are your companies biggest goals and initiatives for the next couple years? 

6. How long will this interview take?

Oh this is a doozy. Even writing it made me uncomfortable. Listen, if you don’t have time for the interview, you should cancel it all together. A good interview is typically a longer interview. Asking for a time limit makes you seem halfway out the door i.e. uninterested. A better way to gauge this is to ask when the interview is being scheduled, how long you should set aside for the interview.

Ok, so now that we got those out of the way…some great questions in addition to those above, are:

1. What does success in this role look like (check this article out for more details)?

2. What are the next steps in the interview process? And is there anything I can do to help move it along for you?

3. What are the biggest pain points in this department? (so you can offer yourself as a solution)

You’ve now got what you need. And if you need a pre-interview checklist, grab this free resource: Everything You Need to Know to Nail your Interview. 

Remember to be prepared but be willing to let the interview flow. If necessary, run through these question with a friend so you’ve got them sounding natural. And don’t be afraid to jot them down beforehand so you remember to ask.

Good luck out there!

Have some advice to share? What interview questions do we need to avoid? Let us know in the comments below!


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  • Scott May 28, 2015, 5:16 pm

    Excellent advice! Good work and THANKS.

    • Anne Omland May 29, 2015, 2:56 pm

      Thanks Scott!

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