Questions You Should Never Ask In An Interview

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz

Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certified

Interviews are fact-finding missions for both applicants and companies. It’s a great opportunity to come prepared with questions you may have about the job duties or the company which will help you decide if the position is right for you.

While you should always prepare questions for your interview, there are 8 questions you should never ask.

What are the salary/benefits?

You should avoid asking all questions relating to salary and specific company benefits. If the interviewers ask you what your salary requirements are, you may answer. But consider using terms like “negotiable” to avoid pricing yourself out of a position.

When interviewees are focused on the specific pay and benefits that come with a position, it indicates a level of detachment to the potential future company. The interviewee comes across as concerned for his/her own capital gains and not how his/her experience and skills can be an asset to the company.

Who is your competition?

While some positions, especially sales based positions, may have direct competitors, trying to determine that information in the interview will likely set off alarm bells for your interviewer.

Specific competitors are irrelevant at the early stages of interviewing. Asking your interviewer to provide that information may feel like a fact-finding mission. Additionally, this information may have been attained through a simple Google search. Avoid appearing unknowledgeable about the company and job by asking questions you could have figured out through a quick search on your own time.

Do you offer flexible work schedules?

Asking about flexible work schedule options or the ability to work from home before you even have an offer in hand may indicate to the potential employer you’re more concerned about your needs than that of the job. A healthy work-life balance can and should be attempted but early interview stages is not the time to negotiate what that looks like.

Later in the hiring process, the interviewer might offer information about flexible work options or altered schedules may be able to be negotiated as part of an official offer. Don’t start your interviews out by asking how the company can accommodate you.

Is there a review process/how soon are employees promoted?

Asking questions directly about the review process may show your interviewer you’re concerned with how and when feedback occurs. It’s also a specific policy related question that isn’t really appropriate for non-employees to ask. Wait until your orientation to discuss review procedures if they aren’t discussed with you in advance. Make the assumption most companies have appropriate review policies.

Asking about reviews often goes hand in hand with asking specifically about promotional opportunities. Again, asking about potential promotion or when one can expect a raise indicates an interviewee who is mostly concerned with how and when this position will benefit him/her.

You can ask questions about potential growth in the position, but avoid asking specific questions about what your promotional abilities might be.

When can I take vacation?

Avoid discussing previous time off scheduled or commitments until after you’ve received a job offer. Most employers will understand if you already have a pre-scheduled vacation and will make sure to accommodate the time off in some way, even if it’s not provided as paid time off.

Asking about vacation time during the interview is presumptive in that you come across to the interviewer as if you have the position and already need to request time off. It also may make interviewers feel as if you’re not fully committed to the opportunity or company.

How many other applicants are you considering?

Do not ask questions about how many candidates are being interviewed. It’s not your business and is typically an awkward question for an interviewer to field. It’s understandable that you have an interest in the interview process itself. Feel free to ask questions about the expected interview process or what the company’s timeline is, not about how many qualified candidates they have.

Did I get the job?

While some interview materials out there recommend ending the interview by “asking for the job”, don’t. Asking an interviewer directly if you’re the top candidate puts them on the spot. Most times, there are other individuals to be consulted before deciding on a final candidate and being asked that question just ends the interview on an awkward note.

By asking for the job, you’re also asking the interviewer to provide you immediate feedback. Oftentimes interviewees pose this question as “is there anything I could have done to better illustrate how I qualify for this position?”. The interviewers are not there to provide you coaching and counseling on your interview skills.

Asking no questions

Avoid the pitfalls of inappropriate questions but ASK QUESTIONS! Show the interviewers and company that you’re interested in the job and their organization by asking the right questions. Focus on the job duties and the skills the company needs and is looking for, not on how the position will benefit you in the short-term.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz
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Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz is a PHR certified HR professional with a broad range of expertise including recruitment, performance management, employee relations and talent management. She leverages her years of experience in HR to bring functional change to organizational leadership and direction to management structures and employees. Robin aims to empower the employees and managers she works with by providing coaching and counseling services.

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