9 Questions You Should Not Ask in an Interview


“Do you have any questions for me?” your interviewer will most likely ask you after an extensive and informative job interview. Ideally you will have thought of some questions to ask in advance. After all, you know that the quality of your questions can reveal a lot about your enthusiasm for the position at hand and desire to excel at the job should you be hired. That said, there are some questions that are better left unasked. Below are nine questions that you should not ask in an interview—at least if you want to build a long-term relationship with your potential supervisor/employer.

  1. Do not ask a question that could have easily been answered with a review of the Company’s website.

For obvious reasons, experts advise that a candidate should not ask a question in an interview that could have been answered an Internet search and skim of the company’s webpage. (Smith: “30 Questions that You Should and Shouldn’t Ask in a Job Interview”).  Although asking anything at all may seem better than having no questions, you should avoid questions that are readily answerable to anyone who reads about the company online. These questions may include anything from the company’s general mission statement to the company’s FAQs. If you are not sure if your question falls into this category, read everything on the company’s website first before thinking up potential questions to ask during the interview. That way, you can construct questions that will help you further your existing knowledge of the company. In fact, you may even “score points” with your interviewer doing your homework and asking questions that reveal thorough research and attention to detail.

  1. Do not attempt to negotiate major details concerning the position.

It’s never a good idea to ask an interviewer about the position’s schedule, salary, or general expected work (Smith) during an initial interview.  This guideline is all about context. It is one thing if your interviewer asks you when you would prefer to work, what you expect to earn, and how to feel about the demands of the job. If you are asked specific questions about any of these matters and feel that you cannot give an informed answer without asking your question, then use your best judgment. However, do not expect your interviewer to be open to tailoring the position just for you. Such requests can reveal a worrying need for control and unwillingness to follow basic instructions.

  1. Do not ask about on-line gossip or rumors allegedly about the company.

Do not divulge in petty gossip or ask about a rumor you read about online (Smith).  Such questions will do nothing to further your understanding of the company or the position. They only raise flags and make your interviewer question your professionalism and integrity. If you want to read up on the company darker past on your own time, that is, of course, your prerogative. But it is best to leave the dirt out of the interview.

  1. Try to keep it impersonal; do not ask too many questions about your interviewer’s personal life.

While it is fine and perhaps even welcome to briefly ask your interviewer how he likes working for the company and to partake in small talk, avoid turning the interview into the equivalent of an informal chat with a friend. Keep most of your questions related to the company or the position at hand.

  1. “When will I be promoted?” or “When can I expect a raise?”

Do not get ahead of yourself! While you most likely mean no harm at all with your question and are simply curious, asking such questions is skipping many, many steps. You still have to get through the interview and leave a good impression. If you are curious, you might try asking something a little less personal such as, “How is performance evaluated or benchmarked?”

  1. “If I am hired, is there professional mobility within the company?”

This question is another example of skipping several steps before completing the ones already before you. (Smith).  Your interviewer is most likely looking for someone who is willing to do precisely the work called for in the job posting, at least initially. He wants someone who is willing to settle into the company and complete tasks that are in demand. Worry about those tasks at the moment.

  1. “Do you monitor employees’ emails or Internet usage?” Or, somewhat similarly, “Do you require drug tests?”

If you are going to sell yourself as just the right person for the job, you do not want to raise any red flags right off the bat. Asking questions that immediately raise suspicions about your ethics is a good way to do just that. If you get far enough in the screening process, you will learn more about what is required of you, including all tests and company policies. Wait to ask specific questions at that time. Until then, avoid such questions altogether.

  1. “Do we get breaks and how long is lunch?”

Again, a good rule of thumb is to keep your focus on the job itself. By asking about breaks, vacations, or time off, you risk coming off as someone who will do as little work as possible, who cannot prioritize their work and leisure time.  (Green: “10 Questions You Should Never Ask in an Interview”)

  1. “How did I do?” 

It is best to learn how to be the judge of your own performance. (Green).  At best, you will put the interviewer on the spot. At worst, your interviewer will assume that you are needy and crave validation every time you complete a task, a trait that can cause tension in many work dynamics and is best avoided.


Works Cited

Green, Alison. “10 Questions You Should Never Ask in a Job Interview.” US News and World Report Money. U.S. News and World Report, 9 Nov. 2011. Web. 18 Aug. 2015.

Smith, Jacquelyn. “30 Questions You Should And Shouldn’t Ask In A Job Interview.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 5 July. 2013. Web. 18 Aug. 2015.

Jacqueline Hill, Esq.

This post was written by .

Jacqueline Hill is a partner at Lexacount Search, where she places top senior-level and other legal talent with law firms and corporate legal departments across the United States. She has been writing about careers, lawyers, attorney professional development, and the legal industry for more than a decade. She can be reached at jacqueline.hill@lexacount.com or 215-740-0104, extension 101.

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