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What questions should not be asked in an interview?


If you search for questions to ask at an interview, you will get loads of different ideas. But what about the questions you shouldn’t ask, the ones that put up a big negative sign for the potential employer? Here are a few examples of the things you really don’t want to ask and why.

What does the company do?

While an employer might not expect you to cite the last financial results to two decimal places, they are going to expect you have done some research on them. Because they want you to want to work for them, not just have a job. So while you might ask questions about specific parts of the role or areas of the company, you definitely want to be able to talk about the company and certainly know what it does.

Questions that seem like hiding something

There is a whole range of questions that can make you seem like you are hiding something. There may be legitimate reasons for them, but it is worth being choosy about when you ask them or if you ask them at all. An example would be questions about drug testing – do they test, when and how much notice do you get? While this might be for a genuine reason (a prescription drug that fouls up tests), it can seem like you have something to hide.

Do you have any other roles?

This is another one that will strike a negative tone in many interviews. Companies want you to be the best candidate for the role you are an interview for – not just to get some job, any job within the company. By asking if there are other roles, you are making it seem like you aren’t too interested in the one you are applying for. If they later say you didn’t get this role, then you can ask the question as it then seems that you are really keen to work for the company.

Questions that make you seem untrustworthy

No-one intentionally wants to seem a bit shady but there are questions you can ask that give this impression. These are usually things to do with monitoring of daily work as if you are looking for chances to cut corners or do something nefarious. To avoid questions about people tracking you at work, security cameras or work checking. And don’t ask about things like how long before you get sick pay!

How do I get the bus here from x?

This shows poor preparation because when you apply for a job, they expect you to have done some research about how you would get to work every day. And there’s a good chance that the upper management holding the interview might use a car to get to work. But even if they are an avid bus or train users, the interview isn’t the place for this. Get transport tips on your first day unless you are working for event Job agencies, in which case, you can ask about transport tips when you get the job for the specific first event location.

Questions that make you seem a pain

There’s a line between enquiring if the company offer flex time or telecommuting and asking for an office with a window rather than a cubicle. So it is a good idea to check these questions and see which you really need to know at the interview stage, and which make you seem like you will be a pain to employ. You can ask to see the personnel manual or other terms before accepting the job offer if you want to know about some of these areas before you commit to the role. But maybe don’t ask about them at the interview.

Do you use ‘x’ software?

This is one to avoid because it can backfire big time. If you ask if they use ‘x’ software of which are competent and proficient and they reply that no, they use ‘y’ instead, then you have to admit that you aren’t so good at this. Which puts you on the back foot in the interview. Best to leave questions about what software, systems or tech is used until you either have to answer it or you start the job.



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