If you’ve ever been on a job interview, then you’ve definitely come across that dreaded item on the ‘potential questions you are going to be asked’ list. We are, of course, referring to the question that asks the interviewee if they have any questions to ask the interviewer. Again, if you have any experience in such a professional scenario, then you have probably met said question with a list of pre-prepared items, scribbled down on a list before the interview itself. Now, what you may or may not know, is that there are right and then there are wrong questions to ask at a job interview. You might be hailing from the school of thought which says there is no such thing as a wrong question—but while this all-inclusive concept might be fine and dandy for an educational setting, it has little to do with the professional one.
As such, in order to prevent any embarrassing, awkward, or otherwise damaging situations, which might lower your odds at nabbing that job, we’ve scoured the Internet, in search of wisdom from the recruiters themselves. Here’s what we managed to come up with, in terms of the right and the wrong questions to ask at a job interview.
RIGHT: Should I be hired, whom will be reporting to?
Why is this question right? For a number of things – but, first off, it’s important to note how it is formulated. The first part of the inquiry sidesteps a misfortunate case of presumptuousness. By starting your query with ‘if I am hired’, you are letting your interviewer know that you are by no means presuming that the job is in the proverbial bag. Then, the remainder of the question indicates genuine interest in the inner workings of the department and company you are hoping to be a part of. By displaying such interest, in the organizational structure of the firm, you are giving your interviewer the opportunity to reveal insight into the kind of mechanism you would be finding yourself involved with.
WRONG: What’s your policy on days off?
Why is this question wrong? After all, knowing when you can enjoy a little ‘me’ time is only normal – it’s every employee’s right, right? Right… but not right off the bat. Companies looking to fill new positions or to bring new talent to their teams are likely to be facing a task overload. This is not to say that you should assume you would be getting hired to take care of everything around there, or to be overworked. However, a potential new employee should be willing to demonstrate their interest in getting the job done, first and foremost. And while days off are to be expected, if they are your first point of interest, perhaps you should be considering a sabbatical and not a new place of employment for the time being.
RIGHT: Can you tell me more about the company’s philosophy?
Why is this question right? Some may think it goes to show that the interviewee has come to the interview unprepared and without having done ‘their homework’ of researching the company before they applied. In fact, though, it is not only a good question to ask, but also a useful one. There is nothing more insightful than having an employee explain a concept like the company’s philosophy. Your interviewer will most likely appreciate the opportunity, as well as your interest in the company.
WRONG: When can I expect to get a promotion? (possibly the uncrowned king of wrong questions to ask at a job interview)
Why is this question wrong? Because, for a company, a new hire is all about the position they are going to fill. The company is experiencing a lack in that specific position, with that particular department. If they are willing to hire you, it’s going to be because you are genuinely interested in doing that job, receiving training for it, and maximizing your expertise in that specific area. This is not to say that promotions are impossible, but they should definitely not be a topic for conversation during your job interview. Also, as one career expert explains, it makes little sense to ask this question at such an early point. They might promote from within, but you might never be considered for such a move up. Conversely, they might not even have a specific policy for promotions and by asking that question you are putting your interviewer on the spot not once, but twice. As such, in the words of the same afore-mentioned recruiter, don’t put the cart before the horse. Stick to asking questions about the position at hand – and see where that road takes you before anything else.