- On July 31, 2020
You can impress your interviewer if you ask good questions. End the interview on a positive note by showing your research and interest! Plus, you can get dinged by failing to ask any questions or putting the interviewer on edge with critical ones.
Forbes recently came up with a huge list of questions interviewees should avoid. Since I talk to interviewers and interviewees all the time, here’s a sanity check on that list.
- I agree that you should not ask questions about how you can benefit. Interviewers want to hire people eager to help the company and avoid people who prioritize themselves. It’s very normal to want to know about hours, salary, and promotions, but a better time to ask is when you have offer in hand, and leverage too. So during the interview, stay clear of these questions:
- How much does the job pay?
- What are the opportunities for advancement?
- What are your hours? [Similarly, don’t ask about telecommuting here.]
- Are you family friendly?
- What is your vacation structure? [In fact, don’t ask about any benefits.]
- Do not ask questions you can easily find the answer yourself
- What are the general responsibilities of the job?
- What is the company’s mission?
- Risky questions. Forbes includes the questions below on the verboten list, but I think they can be ok if delivered well (but better to avoid to be safe).
- What is your typical day like? (You may come across like you haven’t researched the company. Plus this is an uncreative question. You can do much better. See #4 below for some good ones.)
- Why is this job open? (You should ask your friendly recruiter this, not the interviewer.) Don’t ask about turnover on the team either since the question sounds critical.
- What requirements am I missing? What reservations do you have about me? Don’t go planting negative thoughts! Your goal is to make a smooth case why you make sense for the job, not to make things awkward.
- What questions SHOULD you ask? I recommend asking positive questions that incorporate your deep research about the company and show your interest in the company. You should have time for at least one question, maybe two or possibly three, so make sure they are good!
- Sample questions showing research and interest: “I see from [your SEC filing, WSJ or NYT article] that [you are launching ABC product or you grew X%]. That’s great! Do you think [insert question relating to the interviewer/the position/related business]?”
- Ask positive questions about the interviewer, e.g., “I see you [have a background in X]. Is that what brought you to the company/how did you choose to work here?” Or “What do you enjoy about the company, especially since [something specific about them]?”
Pro tip: try to make the interview smooth and conversational. Ask good questions throughout. You don’t have to save them up at the very end.