Never, Ever Ask These Questions at an Interview

John Krautzel
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You already know that preparing for a job interview involves selecting a professional outfit, printing copies of your polished resume and practicing impressive responses to common questions. You’ve probably already thought about some questions that you want to ask the interviewers when you’re given the chance, but did you think about questions you should avoid? Never ask these five questions at a job interview.

1. Can You Tell Me About Your Company?

Don’t expect the hiring manager to describe the company’s products and services or explain the history of the organization. Do this research on your own prior to your job interview so you arrive prepared and show your sincere interest in the organization. Review the company’s website, read reviews of its products, search for new articles about the organization, and learn about the top managers. Rather than asking for the company rundown, ask about a typical workday for the position of interest.

2. How Many Vacation Days Do You Offer?

Avoid asking questions about paid time off, health and dental coverage, retirements plans, or tuition reimbursement during your job interview. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate what you can do for the organization, not a chance for you to inquire about what the company can offer you. Discuss benefits and other job perks after the organization shows interest and extends a job offer. Replace this forbidden question with one about the company culture.

3. Do You Drug Test Applicants and Employees?

When an applicant asks the hiring manager about drug testing, it sends up an immediate red flag. Even if you’re just curious, asking this question send the impression that you have something to hide. Rather than making this inquiry, ask the hiring manager whether the organization conducts periodic employee performance reviews.

4. What Is the Salary?

Similar to discussing employee benefits and company perks at the job interview, salary is another topic that’s best to save until later in the hiring process. If you ask this questions during your first interview, you give the impression that you’re only concerned with money. Discuss salary at a second interview, after the job offer is extended or when the hiring manager broaches the subject. Rather than inquiring about salary, ask about advancement opportunities within the organization.

5. How Long Is the Probation Period?

You may alarm the hiring manager if you ask about the probationary period. It sends the impression that you doubt your own skills or that you’re nervous about the work involved. Replace this question with one about training opportunities provided by the organization.

Asking your own questions at a job interview shows that you’re interested in the position, but certain inquiries can give hiring managers the wrong impression about you. Don’t send the wrong message; never ask these five questions during an interview.


Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Daniel T thanks for your comment. Sure can hear your frustration. Are you doing any research prior to the interview? Check the company site? Try searching for the a salary range on www.salary.com? What about trying to check them out at www.glassdoor.com? LinkedIn? There are many places that you can search for salaries. I would probably have to agree with the HR for saying that's an inappropriate response. Sorry. You need to offer up a salary range - something that will give you a living wage - so that they know that you are really interested in the position/company. A response like that says that you really don't want the position or you would have done your research prior to contacting them. The job world has changed so much just in the last few years and it continues to change. Companies expect that you would have done your research prior to submitting your application.

  • Daniel T.
    Daniel T.

    Waste time interviewing for a position with an inappropriate salary because you're not supposed to insult them with questions about salary and perks? Every meeting w/ potential employers I've had, even if it's only a preliminary phone screening, they ALWAYS ask what I'm looking for in a salary. I've taken to saying "I see no advantage for me in answering that question. Make me an offer." I've been told that is also a horribly inappropriate response. This is what we're told: It's an employers market: Shut up and smile. If you don't like it, drive an Uber.

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