Asking the wrong questions during a job interview is just as bad as asking no questions at all. I've heard a lot of strange, off topic, and inappropriate interview questions. Not only does this leave a bad taste in the interviewer's mouth, but it can play a part in determining a candidate's priorities and fit for the role. Below I have compiled a list of a few commonly asked questions to AVOID.
1. What is this position? Or what does the company do?
Job hunting can be daunting. Many job seekers send out 10-20 resumes per day. You can't blame them for wondering which position they'd applied for by the time they receive an interview callback. Don't sweat it, but definitely don't wait to do your homework. It is difficult to make a case as to why you are the best fit for a role, when you don't know what that role fully entails. Take the time to research both the role and the company. Bonus points if you know the company's history, motto, or mission prior to the interview.
2. Are there other positions available?
Everyone has to start somewhere. Applying a lesser role, just to get a foot in the door, seems logical. There is nothing wrong with letting the interviewer know your intention of growing within the company. However, don't mention that you really wanted another position, or that your passion is to move into another department. Certainly don't mention that you'd applied to another position, didn't get a callback, and ask the interviewer why. Yes, that has happened in one of my previous interviews.
3. Do you drug test or perform a background check?
These are red-flag questions, even if you're just asking out of curiosity. When it is time, you will be told what needs to be checked. Are you worried about what your previous boss might say? Unless you listed your prior manager's personal number as a reference, prospective employers are very unlikely to speak to that person. Most companies have a third party verification process to confirm your timeline of employment.
4. How many vacation will I receive? Do you offer health insurance?
Don't start off by asking about the company's benefits, pay, or promotions. Unless there is a major determining factor that needs to be addressed, save those questions for later (when you've been offered the position). If you are really itching for information, try asking for a copy of any benefit related documents on your way out. Don't waste the interviewers time by making them regurgitate HR information. On the flip side, speak up if you have a 2 week Disney vacation planned a week after your start date. There is nothing worse than having to let a new hire go because they were not upfront about their availability.
Now that we have covered what questions to avoid during the interview, I will leave you with 4 solid questions to keep in your back pocket.
1. How does the company define and measure success, and how does my position contribute to that success?
2. What does the long term path for my position look like? How will I grow?
3. What is the most important thing I could accomplish in the first 60 days?
4. What do you enjoy best about working for the company?
It is hard to go wrong when asking thoughtful questions about the company, future goals, and expectations. Keep in mind, you will likely come up with questions as you perform your own research. For further interviewing guidance and assistance, please reach out to me!
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