By: Jacquelyn Smith
You’re in the hot seat. The tables have been turned. It’s your turn to ask questions.
This is your time to shine … or throw it all away.
It’s up to you!
You may be tempted to ask about salary, or vacation time, or perks — but you should refrain. Asking about these things will send the wrong message about your priorities and work ethic.
“Your job interview could lead to a position that could change your life. So it’s worthwhile being prepared with good questions — and avoiding red flag inquiries that could keep you out of the running,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job.”
Here are five common interview questions you want to avoid at all costs:
1. ‘What salary range are you offering?’
Before you step into the interview, conduct some research on what the company pays for similar positions, Taylor suggests. “If you can’t uncover that, at least determine what market salary is for that job by visiting sites like Glassdoor and Payscale.”
The reason this shouldn’t be asked, she says, is that the hiring manager will likely bring it up after finding out more about you. “Otherwise, you’re putting the proverbial cart before the horse and might appear to be a money monger.”
Often job seekers ask this question when they’re impatient, but it can backfire easily, Taylor says. “If the employer seems to talk about everything but salary, and several conversations have passed, then you have a right to inquire.”
2. ‘Can you tell me about your company?’
“You should already be familiar with the company because we’re not in the Dark Ages … and there are typically endless research avenues on the web; not just their website, but via LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and general keyword searches,” Taylor says. “The job description will likely have insight for you as well.”
Candidates may ask this question because they want to display their interest, but it actually demonstrates quite the opposite: that they haven’t done their homework.
3. ‘How long will it take to be promoted?’
No hiring manager wants to answer a question like this, especially when phrased this way.
“If the interviewer makes a wild guess or an ultimately empty promise, that could backfire for both parties,” Taylor says. “There are better ways to get at a similar answer, such as asking about the history of the position and how it has evolved; inquiring whether the predecessor is still at the firm; and so on.”
You may want to appear as a go-getter. But it’s presumptuous to ask. Your interviewer will likely be thinking, “First let’s see if this position is a good match.”
Also: You don’t want to give off the impression that you’re just applying for this job to get your foot in the door. They clearly need someone in thisrole right now, so focus on the job at hand.
4. ‘Can you tell me about benefits, such as vacation, medical, 401k, etc.?’
Similar to salary questions, it’s best to wait until there is clear and definitive interest in you before asking about benefits, says Taylor. “Otherwise, it will seem your heart is in the wrong place and that you’re more concerned with what the company can do for you, when your focus should be on selling your credentials after understanding firm’s specific needs.”
It may even be a conversation that your hiring manager will defer to HR. “You will get your cue when the time is right,” she explains.
“Candidates can believe they’re being thorough when asking this, or may just really be focused on having enough vacation or good medical coverage. Regardless, in this case, it should take a back seat.”
5. ‘Would you offer a flexible schedule?’
It’s one thing if a job listing includes this as a perk. But if asked out of the blue in a job interview, it’s a red flag that your work ethic is suspect, Taylor says.
“Job applicants can fall into the trap of asking this because, well, doesn’t everyone want work-life balance? However, if not already specified, this will raise eyebrows,” she says.
Instead, ask these:
• Who do you think would be the ideal candidate for this position, and how do I compare?
• How would you describe the company’s culture?
• Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications?
• What do you like most about working for this company?
• What are the challenges of this position?
• If you were to hire me, what might I expect in a typical day?