Thursday, July 28, 2016

What Not To Ask In Job Interviews

July 28, 2016

During job interviews, you will often be given the opportunity to ask the interviewer if you have any questions.

A famous aphorism we hear a lot is, “there is no such thing as a dumb question.” But when you are an interviewee in a job interview, is that always true?

There are questions you might want to ask but try to remember, not every question is appropriate during the job interview.

Here are some examples of what to NOT ask:

1. When can I take my first vacation?

Believe it or not, we’ve had an instance of somebody asking that very question at a first job interview.

Why it’s wrong: It makes you sound like a mercenary or, worse, a clock-watcher that cares less about the work and more about getting more personal time. Also the focus is immediately shifted to what can this company do for you instead of what you can do for this company that other candidates can’t or won’t.
How/when to ask: Wait until you’re hired. When you are doing all the human resources paperwork you can ask questions about all of the employer’s benefits and vacation policies. One suggestion is to ask it in the form of “can you tell me how vacation time is requested?” And be sure to ask other questions.
It is always a good idea to ask a lot of questions during the human resources orientation.  By the way, when asking these questions take notes on a pad of paper (or, yes, even a tablet and notepad on your smartphone are acceptable).  This not only gives you the appearance of looking professional but during orientation, you are probably going to bombarded with a lot of information all at once. Having notes gives you something to refer back to later when you have time to really absorb everything.

FYI: The person who asked that question did not get the job.

2. "What would my salary be for this job"

Of course this is the question to which you really want to know the answer. But you shouldn’t ask it now. There’s a much better time.

 Why it’s wrong:  Asking about salary gives the impression of being a mercenary. Certainly, the unspoken truth that everybody in the room knows is you wouldn’t be sitting there listening to all those questions unless there was the possibility of some money down the road for you.
At this point in your professional relationship, the interviewer probably wants to talk about you rather than the company. If you have the opportunity to ask questions, pick ones that help focus on your skills and abilities. This question should wait for later.
Thanks to Herman
How/when to ask:  Absolutely be ready to talk salary after you are given the job offer. Think about what you’d really like for a salary for a particular position. When you get the call offering you the job, the answer to this question can be a crucial one in making your decision on whether to take the job.

The “Exception:” Here’s a caveat about not asking this question at the job interview. As the interviewee, it is wise to hold back on this question, however always be prepared to start talking salaries if the interviewer brings it up first. Sometimes you will be asked this because the company wants to know if they can afford you. Other times it might be to get you to commit to a figure. So, before going into the interview, be ready with an answer, only don’t be the one to ask the question.
If you are asked your idea for a salary, and you are unsure, there are two easy answers to use. One is to ask a question, such as, “can you tell me what someone starting in a position like this typically makes?” That swings the onus back on the interviewer to give the first number. The other is to provide a range, such as “I was thinking about something between $18 and $22 an hour,” or whatever you feel is a good fit for you. By giving a range, you allow yourself some flexibility when you get the job offer and you know a little more about the duties and activities you are expected to perform.

3. Would you like to see my letters of recommendation?

You’ve got some good letters of recommendation or other references that you think will help make your case for the job, so you want to provide them to the interviewer.

 Why it’s wrong:  Never ask a question where you don’t like 50% of the answers. If the interviewer answers, “no, thank you,” you’ll feel rejected.

How/when to ask:  This is one question you never want to ask. You should, instead, consider making a statement, such as, “here are some references which might help you make your decision,” and then hand them over without asking. Most people will reflexively accept something handed to them and the interviewer will probably take them from you.
If, however, you ask the question, it gives the interviewer the opportunity to say, “no.” There’s enough rejection in the job search process, why ask for one more?
Another good opportunity to “play” your references letters are in the middle of an interview when you’re asked a question like, “how would your last supervisor describe your work?” If one of your recommendation letters is from that person, it’s a perfect time to pull out a copy and hand it over. That way, it’s not just your word, it’s from somebody who has nothing to gain and is in writing, which makes it seem that much more ingenuous.

4. Do you look at social media (or credit scores) when deciding on the final candidate?

Why it’s wrong:  This question is too leading. It would make anybody listening to it wonder why the question is being asked and possibly assume that something is wrong.
Thanks to Daily Dose
How/when to ask:  This is one of those as an interviewee you probably will never ask until you’ve been actually hired. Many employers will ask your permission if they can check your credit score, social media, references, etc. on the application you initially complete for the position. If they don’t ask, it doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t check those things, but you don’t want to upset the apple cart by asking about it.
If you’re really worried about it, by the time you get to the job interview, it’s more than likely already too late. The good news is if they have checked something

5.  Any question that makes the interviewer think you haven’t been paying attention.

The stress of being asked question after question by a stranger sometimes feels like an interrogation, and it can be difficult to remember exactly what the interviewer told you before and during the interview. This is why it’s a good idea to practice your interviewing skills, and one thing in particular to focus on is listening to clues the interviewer is giving you about the job.
One example might be the interviewer compliments you on the formality of how you dressed for the interview and says that it is exactly what the company expects every day. It’s a bad idea to ask at the end of the interview if casual attire is okay.

Why it’s wrong:  Questions like these make the interviewer think you’re not a serious candidate. Also , remember, being a job interviewer can be a tedious task and when an interviewee asks a question that gives an impression of detachment, it’s just going to work against you.

How/when to ask:  If you do get stuck for a question to ask, ask ones that are likely to be always safe, such as, “where do you see this position five years from now?” Even if the interviewer touched on the changes expected in the position, it’s unlikely that a specific time like five years is discussed. The interviewer will then have an opportunity to get into specifics and you’ll look like you’re completely engaged.

These are some of the tips we have used at Community Business College to help our students get the jobs they want. There are a lot more and, like anything, good practice makes better results. We offer a successful job search six-week class which can be taken on our campus or online. -

You can also get expert assistance on putting together a job application package through the Community Business College Groupon resume deal -

Thanks to


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