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The Questions You Should Never Ask at a Job Interview

Domino pieces forming question mark on wooden

Interviews are very delicate things. This is probably the first time you’ve met the person opposite you, so you’re having to feel your way and judge the mood in the room. It’s a two-way conversation as you work each other out. They ask you questions and you get to fire some back.

Asking questions can show you’re engaged and enthusiastic, but it’s a fine line. Ask something tactless, inappropriate or just plain daft and you’ll be straight out the door with a very red face. To stop you from putting your foot in it, here are the questions you should never ask at an interview.

  • What will I have to do in this role? – Did you not read the job description? If you have to ask, you probably shouldn’t be there. While you might have specific questions about processes, you should know what the role entails almost as well as they do.
  • How much will I earn? – It’s the elephant in the room.They’ll give you a chance to discuss pay if you get a second interview or a solid offer, so don’t be the one to point out that elephant.
  • How many hours will I be expected to work? – It’s probably in the job description, and if not it can wait until next time.
  • How flexible are the hours? – Asking how flexible they are suggests that you’re not. If you want the job you have to fit around them, not the other way around.
  • Are there any other jobs going? – That sounds like you’re not really interested in this one and are already fishing around. This is the one you want, remember? Let them know you want it.
  • Do I get a staff discount? – You don’t want to sound like you’re only in it for you. Chances are they’ll tell you about the perks in their own time, so don’t come across as greedy.
  • How soon can I expect to get promoted? – So you want their job now, do you? Asking in a general way about how the department is structured can give you a better idea if there’s any career progression.  Don’t annoy them by getting ahead of yourself.
  • How flexible are you on holiday time? – They don’t want to know you’re already mentally booking your flights. Asking about holiday time is for further down the line at a second interview, if you must – chances are they’ll volunteer the information anyway.

Enthusiastic, not pushy. Keen but not greedy. On the whole you can save the finer details until they ask you back or make you an offer. The time to negotiate is not as soon as you walk in the door, it’s when you know they’re interested.