Everyone knows you’re supposed to ask questions during a job interview. Each sit-down with hiring managers is meant to be a conversation, not an interrogation, and just as much as the company is searching for the ideal candidate, you should be searching for the perfect job opportunity.
That being said, there are rules for inquisitiveness, and in a terrific U.S. News & World Report post titled “Don’t Ask These 5 Questions On Interviews,” career expert Vicki Salemi shares some terrific advice for not putting your foot in your mouth.
First up on Salemi’s list: “When are you looking to fill this position?” As she explains, companies are generally trying to make hires as quickly as possible. The thing is, there’s a chain of approvals and background checks that needs to play out, and that can take a long time.
The second question to avoid, Salemi says, is “Why are you hiring?” What you’re probably looking to find out is whether growth at the company is strong, and whether there are opportunities for upward mobility, so instead, ask, “Why is this position open?” If the previous person was promoted, that’s a good sign. You might also ask how many people the firm is planning to hire in the next couple of years.
Third, Salemi warns about asking, “What’s the drug and alcohol policy?” It’s an obvious way to make yourself look irresponsible. No. 4 is only slightly less obvious: “What are the hours?” It’s a fair question, as work-life balance is very important, but during the interview stage, hiring managers are looking for people that are willing to get the job done at all costs. Don’t give the impression you’re not a hard worker — and, Salemi says, don’t think this question will really give you any clues about company culture.
Speaking of which, Salemi ends her list of no-no questions with, “Why do you like working here?” As with No. 4, you’re not out of line for wanting to know the answer, but you’re liable to hear the same thing over and over: “the people.” It’s the type of thing hiring managers always say, even if they don’t mean it.
Instead, preface your query with, “Other than the people… ” That way, you’ll find out about other benefits that might make the company more attractive.