Questions Not To Ask In An Interview (As An Interviewee)

By Maddie Lloyd - Apr. 6, 2021

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Oh, the job interview. It’s a time for showing off our skills and why we’re the best person to hire, while trying to convince someone to give us a job. We even spend hours, maybe even days, pulling our hair out and stressing to prepare to answer the most common interview questions.

But then you get to the interview, and after answering questions like “What’s your greatest professional strength?” or “What motivates you?” the interviewer flips the script and asks, “Do you have any questions for me?”

Here’s the deal:

The questions you ask can either make or break your interview. You want to make sure that you ask thoughtful questions that show your excitement for the position, and that you know which ones to avoid.

Here are the 10 questions you should never ask during a job interview:

1Can I Do This Job From Home?

This could be a good question to ask once you’ve gotten a job offer, but until that time comes, it’s best not to bring it up to employers.

Yes, working from home in your jammies snuggled up with your cat is an amazing experience unparalleled by any other, but asking to work from home implies that you don’t work well under supervision, you don’t like to work with other people, or that you have a complicated schedule to work around.

If this is a telecommuting or remote position, it would probably be stated in the job description. Occasionally, employees who have been with a company for a long period of time are given the option to telecommute, but it’s not something you should ask for during your interview.

2How Many Hours Will I Be Expected to Work Each Week? Will I Need to Work Weekends?

Asking questions like these will make employers think that you’re hoping to work as little as possible, or that you’re just straight-up lazy.

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A better question you could ask would be “What does a typical day working in this position look like?” The answer will go into your general responsibilities, and, yes, your expected work hours.

3How Long Will I Have to Wait to Get Promoted?

You probably think that this makes you come off as eager and ready to succeed, but in reality, it just makes you look like you’re not excited for the position at hand and that you’re just waiting to move onto something better.

Instead, you should ask questions like “What are some of the opportunities for growth with this position?” or “What do I need to do to be considered successful in this position?”

Questions like these show that you’re ready to work hard in the position you’re interviewing for, instead of making it seem like you’re just waiting for a better opportunity to roll around.

4What Exactly Would I Be Doing Everyday?

Did you even read the job description? If you bring up this question in a job interview, the employer is certainly going to think that you didn’t. That’s a fast and easy way to get yourself removed from the hiring process. So if you really don’t want this job, go ahead and ask!

Instead, you should ask questions about the nature of the job. If you’re still unsure after discussing the position with your interviewer, you can ask something along the lines of “What kinds of projects would I be actively engaged in, and what are the most important goals for this position?”

You can also inquire about how your work will be measured, standard KPIs, and what priorities you’ll have. This will answer the heart of your question without seeming ignorant.

5What Does Your Company Do?

You should really do this kind of research before the interview. Asking a question like this will show the interviewer that you haven’t done anything to learn about the company, which will imply that you have no genuine interest in the position.

Things you should know about the company include:

  • What products or services they produce and/or provide

  • Who their target audience is

  • Roughly how large they are/how much they make

  • How many locations they have and where they are, generally

  • Who their biggest competitors are

  • What challenges are they currently facing

If you make it through the interview unscathed, go home and look up the company website as soon as possible and learn about their history, their mission, and their services. But while you’re there, don’t ask any questions about the company that you could have easily found on their website.

6When Can I Take Time Off for Vacation?

You haven’t even been hired and you’re already trying to plan for your vacation? Well, that’s one way to show employers that you don’t really care about actually working for them.

Seriously though, asking about time off before getting a job offer only shows employers that you’re not going to be a fully committed employee. Save the questions about leave and benefits for after you get the job offer.

7What Is the Salary for This Position?

This isn’t a question you should bring up to an employer during your first interview. In, fact, many interviewers will probably ask about your salary requirements if they’re thinking of hiring you.

When asked about your salary requirements, give a range based on salary research you’ve done for the job title, region, and experience level. Aim on the high end of the spectrum, but leave it negotiable.

While you should certainly be armed with a ready answer to questions about salary, you shouldn’t be the one to bring it up, especially in the earlier rounds of interviews.

8What Type of Health Insurance Does This Company Offer?

Again, wait until you receive a job offer before you start asking questions about salary and benefits. On the other hand, if there’s a specific benefit that you require from a job, like a particular type of healthcare or childcare services, bring it up with human resources rather than the interviewer.

Questions about what’s included in the benefits package and what perks you can expect are offputting for hiring managers and recruiters. They’ll assume that you mostly want the job for the money, vacation time, retirement plan, and insurance (which, sure, you do).

But the point of an interview is to emphasize enthusiasm for the role and a high level of competency for succeeding in that role. Your conversation should be mostly employer-focused; everything you say should be aimed at selling the hiring manager on the value you can offer the company.

9Do You Check References?

Asking this question will probably make your interviewer think that you don’t have a solid list of references, which could also make them think that maybe you’ve been fired, or maybe you’re just a sketchy person.

Do everything you can to secure a strong list of references. But if for some reason you have a problem doing so, wait for the interviewer to bring it up before sharing any information about your reference situation.

Because you’d better believe that if you ask if they’ll be checking references, they’ll 100% be checking yours.

10Did I Get the Job?

This is just a rookie move. Asking if you’re going to get the job during an interview puts employers on the spot and makes you seem like you lack patience. Plus, it also just makes you look like you have no understanding of how to act in professional situations.

If you really want to know when you’ll learn your fate with the company, you can ask them questions like, “Do you typically do multiple rounds of interviews with candidates?” Otherwise, just learn to be patient.

Other Questions to Avoid Asking

  • Do you drug test?

  • What’s your sign?

  • How long are breaks and how many breaks do we get?

  • Can I bring my dogs/kids to work?

  • What is your policy for warnings?

  • Are you going to monitor my internet usage?

  • How late can I come in?

Good Questions to Ask During an Interview

In short, the worst questions you can ask during an interview are those that are focused on you and your needs. Remember that an interview is part sales pitch and part exploratory meeting (for both you and the interviewer).

You certainly want to learn more about the company and the role through the course of your interview, but always with an eye to how you can fit into the existing structure and provide unique value.

In that spirit, let’s briefly look at some good questions to ask during or at the end of an interview:

  1. What are the biggest challenges for someone in this position? This is a great question to ask because it achieves both things we just talked about — it gives you insight into the day-to-day life on the job while also portraying you as a candidate who cares deeply about addressing those problems from day one.

    If the challenges sound uninteresting or overwhelming to you, then you’ve just found out this job isn’t a good fit. And if the issues the company or department is facing sound exciting and like something you’d enjoy working on, then you’ll be able to speak confidently on those subjects for the rest of the interview.

  2. What are the expectations for the first 30/60/90 days in this role? Asking about what tangible results an employer would like to see from someone working in this position can tell you a lot. You might get bogged down in the responsibilities listed in the job description and miss the forest for the trees.

    A question like this shows that you’re thinking big picture while also informing you about what the ultimate aims of your department are.

  3. What does collaboration look like in this role? This question immediately sets you apart as a team player who’s already thinking about how the role fits into a grander scheme.

    When you ask about the people you’ll be working with and in what capacity, the hiring manager or recruiter will have an easier time envisioning you already working alongside existing employees.

  4. What do you like about working here? A question like this or the even more focused “can you tell me about the company culture here with examples” are great for sussing out what things are really like. Of course, interviewers are also making a sales pitch for their company, but the goal here is to achieve some insight into the culture.

    By asking for examples of how corporate values play out in reality, you’ll get a more complete picture of the work environment. Plus, asking a question like this shows that you care about fitting into the existing culture enough to learn more and adapt.

Final Thoughts

When an interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for me?” it’s not an invitation for you to ask about all the time you’re going to get off or how much money you’re going to make.

Instead, use this opportunity to learn about the specifics of the job and show the interviewer that you have a strong work ethic and you’re excited about the possibility of working for their company.

Remember that an interview is also a time for you to determine if the position would be a good fit for you, so make your questions work to your advantage and figure if it’s going to be your dream job.

Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.
Maddie Lloyd

Author

Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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