Are You Asking the Wrong Questions in Your Initial Interview?

John Krautzel
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While many applicants prepare for interview questions prior to a job interview, those who don't prepare the right questions to ask may be at a disadvantage. Spend time prior to your initial meeting with an employer researching the best questions to ask, and avoid inquiring about topics that could hurt your credibility and potentially damage your professional image.

The Basics

Asking basic information about the company shows that you did not take the time to research thoroughly prior to the job interview. You should know about the company's products and services, as well as information about its involvement in the community and industry accomplishments. Candidates who ask questions such as "What type of products do you sell?" or "How long have you been in business?" show that they are not prepared to take on an important role in the firm. These types of questions could also hurt your credibility as a professional, indicating that you are not too interested in the opportunity.

The Benefits

While it is important to know a salary range or benefits package, the initial job interview is not the time nor place to begin inquiring about vacation time, flex time, health insurance, raises or promotions. Applicants who focus more on the benefits of the financial package communicate that they are primarily interested in money versus an opportunity to positively impact the company. Save these type of interview questions for follow-up interviews or phone calls that are designed for negotiations and job offers.

The References

It is common practice for hiring managers to request references and even follow up with past employers. When a job candidate asks whether or not references are contacted, it may throw up a red flag for potential employers. Even if you don't have anything to hide or worry about, avoid inquiring about reference checks during an initial job interview.

The Opening

While you may be curious about why a position is open, refrain from asking why it suddenly became available during your first meeting with an employer. It may be that the previous employee was dissatisfied with the company or violated a procedure. The hiring manager may not be at liberty to divulge the reason for the opening and when asked about it, the dynamic between the two of you could turn a bit more awkward than what you had hoped for during the job interview. Instead, focus more on how your skills and experience match the position's requirements so you can show the hiring manager that you are the best fit for the job.

It can be tricky knowing what to ask at the end of a job interview. However, if you focus primarily on asking about ways you can further the company's efforts, sales and production, you are showing hiring managers that you are eager and ready to make an impact.

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