Questions ‘not’ to ask during an interview

Questions ‘not’ to ask during an interview

As promised, following on from my post last week, I want to carry on with the theme concerning what you should not do during an interview.

Last week I talked about not criticising your boss or previous employer in an interview, not lying about your work experience and not being closed or non-engaging with the interviewer amongst others.  This blog is very much an extension to that theme, and covers questions you should not ask during an interview (for a list of good questions to ask, see my post here on the topic).

I think this is a great topic to explore further as there is so much content on the internet about what questions are acceptable to ask, and hardly any about what you should not ask.  Everyone wants to do well in an interview so they can hopefully secure a job offer at the end of it.  Asking any of the questions below though, will in my view, jeopardise your chances of doing well.


Don’t ask these questions


  • What does your company do ? This is big no no in my view, as it shows a complete and fundamental lack of both preparation and research on the company you could be working for in the future.  How would you feel if you were interviewing someone for your own company, and they turned up and knew nothing about your business? (read my other blog on Company Research)


  • How much is the job paying ?  I would not ask this question at a first interview with an employer, it should be something you discuss with the Recruitment Agency prior to turning up.  Leave the discussion on salary to your Recruitment Consultant – that is what they can advise the potential employer on.  If you are applying to a job advert through the paper or an online advertisement directly, make sure you take a note of the salary before the interview.  Where there is no mention of a salary banding, then it would be wise to get clarity during your first interview, so you are not wasting anyone’s time


  • How quickly can I get promoted ?  A good question on the face of it, but this sets the wrong tone in my opinion, as you are being interviewed for the role as it is now, not where you might be in the company in 3+ years time.  It is positive to come across ambitious and enthusiastic, but I would not advise being so blatant as to ask this question.


  • What do you dislike about the company ?  Not one for a first interview either.  This may imply to the interviewer you are only trying to find out negatives about the business rather than the positives.  This question also could put an interviewing panel on the spot and create a deafening silence, which is not a good thing to do. 


  • Will you offer me the job now ?  Like above, this could put the interviewer in a difficult situation, as interviewers like to keep their thoughts to themselves on applicants until they have seen all the candidates.  It could also come across to an interviewer that you are desperate for work by asking such a question.


  • Why is the salary so low ?  Not only does this put the interviewer on the spot, but it may imply you were not interested in the job from the start, or if you were, may leave once you find a role paying more money.


  • Why is your benefits package so poor ?  No business is the same, and every company will have different benefits available, depending on whether they are a large international business or SME, and the benefits may also vary depending on the seniority of the position.  It is not a good idea to compare and start negotiating what you have currently with what the company is offering in the interview – leave this to your Recruitment Consultant to discuss on your behalf.  It is much easier to openly discuss any deal-breakers with your Consultant rather than the employer directly.  If you are applying to a direct application, wait until you receive the offer in writing before you consider your next move.


  • What are you disciplinary and grievance procedures ?  Alarm bells would be ringing here if you were to ask this question.  In my view, you leave it wide open for the interviewer to assume (correctly or incorrectly) that you are the type of person that has been disciplined before (and they will dig further to find out), or someone who could be a potential problem for the business in the future.


  • What is the company policy on sickness ?  Whilst it is a valid question as there should be a policy in place, I don’t believe this is a good one to ask during an interview.  You could leave an interviewer thinking you either intend to go off sick often (maybe to have more holidays), or there is some issue that means you would require a lot of time off work.


  • Why should I work here ?  You could be seen as coming across arrogant and self-important if you ask this, or you haven’t really thought through why you are there.  It is not the interviewers job to tell you why you should work for them – you should be able to judge this for yourself based on job content, people you are meeting or have met so far, and your research on the company


  • When am I likely to receive a pay rise ?  Money of course is an important element in any job, and one reason why we all have to work.  I would not ask this question during an interview though, as it implies you may not be happy with the salary range on offer, or you are only interested in the money element and nothing else.

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