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The stress of applying to a new job can be difficult to juggle along with the expectations of acing an interview. Whenever I go into an interview, I know the only way I can be successful is to be prepared, though, and the list of questions you should ask is not as important as the few questions you should expertly avoid.
1. Anything relating to pay
So, I know there are people out there who believe it’s safe to ask about pay before getting hired. And I agree with that, too, but the appropriate time is once you’ve been extended an offer–not when you’re sitting across the table from a manager or top executive. Honestly, sometimes the person who is interviewing won’t even be the one deciding your pay, so not only have you made yourself seem like the paycheck is more important than anything else, but you’ve also wasted someone’s time. And smart people know, time is money, so you just cost them a couple of bucks (or hundreds of bucks, depending on their level of seniority). But yeah, don’t ask about pay. If it’s really that important to you, do some searches on Indeed or LinkedIn or Glassdoor. They’re usually able to at least give ranges for a few of the positions at any given company, so you can see if it’s worth your time. My husband once looked up a position before meeting anyone and realized he would be getting paid $10 than at his previous job and there was a lot of travel involved. He wisely decided to not waste his or the company’s time, because it wouldn’t be possible to make a living off the work.
2. Anything relating to basic company description
Do your homework! I cannot stress that point enough. If you have no clue what the company you applied for does, then they will know you have little interest in the position. Go to the company or organization website prior to your interview and read about what they do. Do they manufacture? Are they consultants to other companies? Do they prepare quality reports for products? Whatever it is they do, know it at least at a general level so you can maintain a conversation but also ask questions of your own when the time comes. Sometimes an interviewer will start by giving you an overview of the company, but you want to be ahead of the game. Look up the company and see if they have been in the news recently or have had any press releases come out about a cool machine or merger. It shows you care a lot about the company and not just yourself and that paycheck.
3. Anything relating to the interviewer’s personal life
Even if there is a good and comfortable vibe going on in the interview, there are questions you can ask and there are questions you should not risk. For instance, maybe the manager has gotten on a friendly level with you and asked about your hobbies or plans for the weekend. Feel free to answer, but do not feel entitled to ask the same questions to them. Their personal life is their personal life, and you might be placing them in an awkward position if you bring up their kids or relationships or side interests. Furthermore, it has nothing to do with your interview, with your position at the company and how you can help them. Time during interviews is limited and the more time you spend asking about them and their life outside of the office, the more time you’re wasting that could have been utilized discussing your goals and skills.
4. Anything relating to benefits
An interview is not a good time to ask how much health insurance costs. It’s also not appropriate to ask how much of your paycheck will be used towards life insurance or other benefits. Again, sometimes benefits is something you can Google search for a company, or if you know someone who works there, you can ask ahead of time. But if there’s no offer on the table, don’t jump the gun by asking questions about things that only affect current employees.
Hopefully, this helps some of you during your job search and before interviews. Feel free to email with any other specific questions! I’ve been through multiple successful interviews in my life for various jobs or positions, and I would be happy to share more advice 🙂