Asking the right questions in an interview can give you a huge strategic advantage. Asking the wrong questions can cost you the job. Following up on our blog about smart questions to ask, here are some things you should not ask, especially in the early stage interviews:
- What’s the salary?
- Where would my desk/office be?
- Would I have to work overtime?
- Can I work from home?
- What’s your vacation policy?
- I have an aging parent/new baby. What is your leave policy?
- Is my health issue covered under your health insurance plan?
- Can I use a mac?
- Can I have an ergonomic keyboard (or special desk or chair)?
- What kind of perks do you get?
- Do you get a discount on your product?
- Do you think there might be layoffs here in the future?
- How soon could I be promoted?
- How often do you get raises?
- Can I have a tour?
- Can I meet your boss?
It is appropriate to ask about company culture as a way of showing you would fit in. You may say “What’s the culture like here?” or “What kind of hours do people tend to keep?” or “What is the leadership style?” Whatever you hear, use a story to show how you are a match to the company culture.
It’s also appropriate to determine where you would report to work (not where you would sit in the building, but actually where you would commute each day) and how much travel is involved. Try to ask these questions of the recruiter rather than during the interview. Often this information is in the job posting on the company website.
Never introduce the issue of salary. It can only hurt your chances of getting hired. Bring out your match to the job and ability to solve problems for the company in as many ways possible and for as long as possible so they are completely sold on you and eager to hire you, before the topic of money comes up.
As you get closer to being given a job offer, you will likely be given information on benefits including leave policy and health insurance. If the information is not offered, the right time to ask critical questions, such as health care coverage, is after you’ve been given a job offer. Even if you have a show-stopper requirement (for example, the health plan MUST cover a particular illness), do not bring it up until you have a job offer. If it’s critical, you may be able to negotiate it at that point.
Avoid “me” questions. Not only do they make you look picky and demanding, but they do not do anything to advance your candidacy. Small details such as your need for a special keyboard can be resolved after you have landed the job and are starting. Your top priority in the interview is to bring out your qualifications and fit, showing yourself to be pleasant and easy to work with. Don’t let any “me” questions get in the way of that goal.