The 5 Worst Questions Interview Candidates Ask

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The interview process can be a slippery slope. While it can be the opportunity to really sell yourself, you also pose the risk of royally messing up your chances at getting hired. Plus, you don’t have much time to state your case: 33 percent of recruiters claimed to know within 90 seconds whether or not a candidate is a good fit for the position. Scary, right?

There’s one major hiccup many candidates make, however: Asking the wrong questions. While you should definitely have thoughts at the end of your interview, there are a few questions that not only turn hiring managers off, but also give you a way-one ticket to Rejection Land. So, which ones should you avoid and what are some alternatives to consider? Check out the following below:

“What do you do?”

Asking what a company does isn’t exactly great interview practice. First, it shows you didn’t do research on the organization. Second, it illustrates your lack of interest in the company, its goals, mission, history, and where it stands today. A viable candidate does their homework beforehand. An unqualified candidate expects others to do the work for them. In an employment market where there are always other options to fill a position, a hiring manager may dismiss you for the next guy in line.

Instead: If you’ve done your research but aren’t sure about a certain practice or how particular operations work, go into specifics. So, instead of “What do you do?” say, “I’d like to learn more about the marketing team and what its day-to-day tasks entail.”

“How much will I get paid?”

Money can be a touchy subject. While you’d like to know how much money you could potentially be making, you’re not in a position to ask in the first few rounds of an interview. Even after, you should tread lightly and do your research: 18 percent of employers will eliminate candidates whose salary expectations are too high. Don’t play the money card until it’s been played to you first.

Instead: As a rule, avoid this question until after you’ve received an offer. If you’re curious about ranges, check out industry averages or salary resources likeGlassdoor.com, which provide you with company estimates from current and former employees.

“How much time off do you provide?”

While vacation time is important, asking how much time off you’re going to get before you’re hired may show that you’re already “working for the weekend.” That is, you’re ready to jump out the door before you’ve accomplished the work that bodes a vacation. While it’s important to understand vacation policies, framing it in this way illustrates indifference, not dedication.

Instead: Many employers will list vacation policies on their website. Check that out first before you ask about time off. In addition, if you’ve read about how the company promotes alternatives like flexible work options, you can definitely say something like this: “While researching the company, I read about your flexible work options. I’d like to learn more about that. Can you provide me with some insight or direct me to a resource online?”

“Can I use Facebook (Or Twitter or Instagram) at work?”

Social media is all the rage these days. With 89 percent of job seekers using social networking sites, it may seem like something you should always have access to. However, every company is different. Some are more lenient with social networking tools while others have strict policies. While you may want to use social networking as a way to perform tasks, a hiring manager may believe you’d use Facebook, or any other platform, as a means to waste time or not follow through with projects.

Instead: Ask what tools the company uses to be productive. This can pave the way to a social networking conversation that will allow you to find out if the company uses social media to connect with customers or if these platforms are used internally to respond to questions.

“How did I do?”

This is the ultimate job interview no-no. Asking how you did may sound like a way to connect with the interviewer, but it also shows that you don’t have enough confidence in yourself. Confidence is key in a job interview. It asserts that you have the knowledge and experience to do the job right — without formal reassurance — and that starts by proving yourself in a job interview.

Instead: Show you’re interested in continuing the conversation by asking the following: “What are the next steps in the hiring process process?” This not only shows you’re interested in the position, it also gives you some insight into what you can expect next.

While job interviews are definitely a tough bridge to cross, make your job search a little easier by avoiding these questions! You’ll have a much better experience, and a more favorable outcome, when you do so.

What do you think? What are some other terrible job interview questions candidates ask?

About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author ofLies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.

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