Avoid asking these common deal-breaker questions. No matter which interview process you are being subjected to at the time, there are always those pointed and direct questions that you would like to ask but that you know are forbidden.
1. How much does the job pay?
This is by far the top pet-peeve question for recruiters. They want to think that you’re so in love with the job that money isn’t such a big issue for you. Salary is the elephant in the room that no one acknowledges during the interview phase. You’ll get a chance to discuss pay once you get an offer, but you may not get an offer if you discuss pay first.
2. What kind of benefits package do you offer?
Asking about benefits makes it sound like you could care less about the job, and more about the perks. If you don’t love your career, it will show in your interview.
3. What are the hours?
If you want to give the impression that you’re more interested in time off than working, ask this question. Otherwise, save it until after an offer has been extended.
4. Can I telecommute?
Wait to inquire about telecommuting until you’re well established in your new job and have a good track record. If you ask the question in an interview, they’re going to wonder why you would want to get out of the office before you even see it.
If working from home is extremely important to you, starting your own business is a great career option.
5. “What kind of company is this?”
If you have to ask this, it shows you didn’t have the initiative and incentive to prepare for your interview. That doesn’t bode well for how you’ll handle the job itself.
Before you even write your resume and cover letter, you should know all about the company. “There’s no excuse for going into an interview unprepared and not being knowledgeable about the company,” says career coach Cheryl Palmer.
6. “What happened to the last person who had this job?”
Of course you might be curious, but don’t ask. What’s the difference? It’s not your business to know. Asking will just make you look nosy. The same goes for questions that probe into the personal life of the interviewer. You might have friendly, but these may be sensitive areas and have nothing to do with the job.
7. What do you like least about your employer?
Sure, you may have heard dirt about the company, but an interview is not the place to bring it up. It will make you seem like you focus on negatives or don’t think the company is representing itself correctly. A little research will give you the scoop about whether this is a company you want to work for.
8. “How much help will I get?”
If there is a team, you’ll be introduced to the members, says executive recruiter Bruce Hurwitz. “Asking about help gives the impression that you can’t do the job by yourself and the company will have to do more hiring just to keep you,” he says.
9. “Can I work at another job part time?”
Employers want someone who is devoted to the company, not someone who could burn out by juggling too much.
10. Do you do background checks?
Wave the background-check question in front of the interviewer. The hiring manager will start to wonder if they need to call security or if they’re sitting across from a felon.
11. What is your policy on drug use?
Believe it or not, this isn’t an uncommon question, says sales and leadership coach Dave Sheffield. “The funniest part of this question is that the interviewee sees nothing wrong with it,” he says.
12. How did I do?
Sure, you want to find out if you’re a contender after an interview. But asking that question puts an interviewer on the spot, and they’re rarely in a position to answer. Plus, it makes you sound unprofessional. An effective alternative would be: “So what are my next steps?”
13. Not asking questions at all.
By far the worst question is the one you never ask: Not asking any questions during an interview shows a lack of interest or comprehension, or can make you look desperate, someone who will take any job under any circumstances. Nobody wants someone nobody wants.
14. Race or Gender
While this may seem obvious to everyone, it still warrants mention because it is very easy present yourself in a negative manner by the type of question you ask. Questions about the race or gender of your boss or coworkers are inappropriate.
Even if you are a woman or minority, you should stay away from questions about diversity. Asking about the diversity of your prospective department or the company as a whole might indicate to the interviewer that you are uncomfortable working with people from different backgrounds or a different gender.