It’s the typical wind-down for most interviews. “Do you have any questions for us?” It’s often a wasted opportunity for most job candidates. It may turn into that moment you lose the job. While you’re scratching your head wondering what went wrong, it could be you’ve asked one of the worst questions to ask in an interview.1
Here’s a list of questions career coaches say are the worst to ask.
How many other candidates are interviewing for this position?
If the potential employer doesn’t offer the information, don’t ask. You don’t want anyone to question your confidence. Instead, ask:
You listed the qualifications of an ideal candidate in the job description. What does X qualification look like for your company (or this position)?
Choose a soft rather than hard skill. This gives you an opportunity to assess whether you really fit into their company culture, while giving you the opportunity to respond to any points the interviewer shares with you.
How much will I earn?
If it wasn’t listed in the job posting, the employer plans to negotiate this. You don’t want to risk looking greedy. If you’re asked how much you want to earn, be prepared with a carefully researched answer. If the interviewer doesn’t bring up the subject, wait.
What are the hours?
Only ask this question if knowing the hours is vital to your ability to accept the job. For example, if you are Jewish or a Seventh-day Adventist, asking if the hours include Friday evenings and Saturdays may be essential to keeping your religious practice in line with your beliefs. At the same time, you must recognize the risk you are taking.
No employer wants a clock watching employee. And some employers fear resentment from other employees if they accommodate the religion of one employee. Asking this question may hurt your chances in the early interview stage.
Of course, you must ask this question if the employer’s expectations haven’t been clarified, and you receive an offer.
Why is this position vacant?
Once again, if the information isn’t offered, don’t ask. It makes you look nosy at best or gossipy at worst. Instead, ask:
What about the vacancy of this position is hurting the company the most?
This question shows your sensitivity to the company’s needs and gives you an opportunity to show your ability to resolve the issues.
Can you tell me more about the company?
Do you want to scream, “I’m lazy!” Ask this question. Instead, ask specific questions that came up during your research into the company and the position you’re seeking.
Some interview coaches claim the #1 worst question to ask in an interview involves pay or how many candidates there are. Others say it’s asking why do you have this job vacancy or waiting to interview time to ask for information about the business that’s found on the company website.
All four questions are serious faux pas. Each one gives a negative impression.
Please take this one thing away with you. Prepare! Research. Plan for success. Then you are less likely to blow your chances at landing a job for which you genuinely qualify.
How to Ask Questions That Get You Hired
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1Thank you to Lavie Margolin for posting #1 wrong question to ask the interviewer in LinkedIn’s Resume Writers & Career Coaches group.