Great news! You’ve spent hours on a fantastic CV and cover letter, and now you’ve been shortlisted! So while you’re doing your interview prep, you should also be thinking about a few questions to ask the interviewer yourself. But it’s important that your questions are really well thought-through and insightful. Which is why you’ll definitely want to avoid these…
Think this will get the conversation flowing? We think not. This question actually suggests that you haven’t done any research or preparation for your interview, and will give the interviewer the impression that you aren’t actually interested in the job at all.
Instead, try: I understand that your organisation did X last year. Can you tell me a little more about this?
Rule of thumb: Never ask anything that you could have learned through research.
This is another one to avoid like the plague. By asking this question, you’re telling the interviewer you’re not committed to the role. It also undoes all the hard work you’ve put into your cover letter and CV to get you to this stage. Even if the role you’re applying for is the first rung on the ladder towards something bigger and better, it’s important that you come across as passionate and positive. Remember: know your audience. They are focussed on finding someone as close to perfect for that role as possible. Ask about moving to a different job in the interview and you may as well strike off your own name from the list.
Instead, try: What opportunities for growth are there in the company?
Rule of thumb: Focus on showing off your passion and drive for the position you are actually applying for, it’s far more impressive.
Planning your first absence in your interview will never look good. The same goes for annual leave. It’s normally best to avoid these subjects in the actual interview. You’re there to knock their socks off, not negotiate time off!
Rule of thumb: Unless you have extenuating circumstances, leave this one alone.
Many people spend most of their waking hours in the office, so your organisation’s social scene can be really important. Having said that, your interview is not the time, nor the place, to be investigating this particular detail. On the other hand, asking about the team and the working environment is a great way to show you really care.
Try: Open-ended questions about the culture of the organisation.
Rule of thumb: Keep things professional at all times.
Tempting as it is to ask, this one can send off completely the wrong signal. You may think it’s harmless, but it actually puts the interviewer in a really awkward position. They have a lot to think about, and it’s unlikely that they’ll want to share all their thoughts with you at that stage. Don’t go fishing for compliments, but instead close by telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them. It’s also a good idea to send a follow-up email thanking them for meeting with you.
Try: When can I expect to hear from you?
Rule of thumb: At the end of the interview, you want to be finding out about their ideal candidate, and trying to show how you fit that description. Never ask anything that will put that in jeopardy.
Other questions you’ll definitely want to avoid:
Can I use Facebook at work? Do you monitor my browsing history and emails? How long will I get for my lunch? Do you fancy a drink after this? Do you perform background checks?
And a couple of great questions to ask:
Can you tell me more about the ideal candidate? What are the organisation’s plans for the future?