10 Questions to Avoid in an Interview


Now that you know the ten winning questions to ask on an interview, let’s discuss the ones you should avoid altogether. In short, it’s best to stay away from “me” questions. An interview is your opportunity to learn more about the position at hand; it’s not the right time to make demands or requests. After all, you want to stand out for all the right reasons.

Stay away from these ten deal breakers:

1. What perks can I expect?

Most job descriptions include a small list of benefits that are included with the position. It’s normal to be interested in additional incentives, but phrasing a question like this only makes you sound self-absorbed. It’s better to say something like: How does the company show appreciation for meeting goals and exceeding expectations? This phrasing makes you sound like a candidate who will go above and beyond for the betterment of the company, not someone who wants the job only for health insurance.

2. What does your company do?

You should already know the answer to this question well before you step foot through the door. Research is important. It’s one of the best ways to maintain a competitive edge against other hopefuls. If the job description wasn’t clear about the company, be sure to ask whomever contacts you for that information before your interview.

3. Can I be paid [insert request]?

This is a huge No-no on an interview. You should never bring up salary unless the person conducting the interview does first. If you start talking about wages before you’ve been offered the job, than you may come across as cocky and overly confident. The appropriate time to discuss payment and any options regarding money is after you have been offered the job. If salary is brought up, you may avoid discussing this topic by saying you are open to negotiation and discussing salary after you have been offered the position.

4. How long is this interview going to take?

Your chances of getting the job can really plummet if you ask this question. It sounds rude, and it makes you appear impatient. A good rule of thumb is: the longer the interview, the better. People make their first impressions shortly after meeting someone, so if you’re still answering questions and bantering with your interviewer, and the clock has been ticking away, your chances of getting the job are good.

5. There are no weekend requirements, right?

There is nothing wrong with wondering how much time the position will require. If the job description mentions weekend hours, you better be ready to work weekends. However, if the description is unclear about what days make up the workweek, you should approach the question from a more diplomatic standpoint. Try asking if there are going to be opportunities to work overtime or weekends. Or, simply ask if the workweek is the standard Monday through Friday.

6. Have you considered telecommuting for this job?

This question is more suitable for someone who has already held the position for awhile. You have yet to work a day in the office, and you sound like you don’t want to give it a shot. Chances are, the company has researched the most effective way to accommodate their needs and those of their employees. On an interview, you should keep these types of critical suggestions to yourself. Unless the interviewer or the job description mentions telecommuting, or any other options for work environment, you should assume that there’s a reason the company wants you in the office.

7. Can I come in later than the time in the job description?

This is a tricky one. It’s understandable that not every schedule works for everyone. Based on the way your interviewer handles your other questions, you can probably gauge how by-the-book the company is. Chances are, if everyone starts promptly at 8:30 AM, you must too. If you intuit a more relaxed office vibe, you could query whether or not the starting time is flexible. If it’s impossible for you to come in at the allotted time, it’s best to let the interviewer know, so he or she can determine if you’re still in the running.

8. When can I take a vacation, and how much time do I get?

Save these questions for after you’ve nabbed the job. Someone who is on an interview to learn about a position, but is already thinking about taking time off, will signal a red flag to employers. Be patient and ask this question after you’ve been offered the position. You can always decline it, if the vacation time is non-negotiable and doesn’t meet your needs. Remember, employers know that candidates are interested in this information. Use your interview time to learn about the work you’re going to do, rather than the perks you may receive.

9. My boss will have at least the same level as education as me, right?

Some questions are just plain silly. Employing agencies do their best to match the right candidates with the right openings. By asking this question, you are insinuating not only that you strictly associate formal education with ability [your interviewer might have less schooling than you,] but you are also suggesting that the company doesn’t hire appropriately. Asking this question, can you guess who might not be a good fit?

10. How can you determine if I’m the right candidate in such short time?

This question sounds relevant, but it’s actually off topic. Interviews are conducted to gain more insight about a candidate. They also work to introduce you to specific details about the position. Your resume illustrates your qualifications, and your interview introduces you from a more personal level. Employers spend time weighing their options and they use both tools to deliberate over who will be best suited for the opening. Now, this question has been demystified. Spend the remainder of your interview asking direct questions about the job you want.

If you stay away from these questions, you can avoid being seen in a bad light. You can learn how to appear more confident without the controversy by clicking here. For some added emphasis on what questions to avoid, watch the video below.

What Not to Ask at the End of an Interview

Good luck!

What are some other questions you would avoid asking in an interview? Don’t be afraid to say them here.

For more posts by Sara Kosmyna.

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  1. Sharon
    Posted April 25, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Can I just bring you to the interview with me? That just seems so much easier!
    Great article!

  2. Cami
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    I love the rephrasing of the first question. I’ve always wondered what would be a more appropriate way to say that.

  3. Meghan
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    Great advice, thankyou!

  4. Kate
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    I’ve recently been wondering about question #5: “There are no weekend requirements, right?” I just got hired for a job that I just realized may have me work weekends. I didn’t think of this before or during the interview, but now I know a better way of asking when I start! Thanks =)

  5. Rhovena
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    yeh im gunna have to take you on interviews haha deffinetly

  6. Maraheb
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Great article, it is really beneficial for those who have interviews and don’t know what to do or say!

  7. Mary
    Posted April 27, 2011 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the information. I will keep that in mind next time I’m in an interview.

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