So far your job search strategy has worked well. Your hard work and networking is paying off and you have landed a job interview for in your dream company. You think you have interviewed well so far and done a pretty good job answering the questions from the interviewer. Just before the job interview ends, the interviewer asks you a pretty simple question – Do you have any questions for us? Of course you do.
Right about here, the words of a Frank Sinatra song comes to mind – “and then I go and spoil it all, by saying something stupid like…” the following kinds of questions. Trust me; these are questions I have heard that just derails the entire process and could jeopardize the job offer. I get it – we are nervous and so things just fly out before we have a real chance to think through them. These 7 stupid questions we ask in the job interview, do not always come out like this word for word, but are in the ball park of what not to say.
What exactly does your company do?
When job seekers ask this kind of question about the company in the job interview it demonstrates a lack of company research. As part of the preparation for job interviews, job seekers should research basic company information such as the products or services the company provides. You cannot interview well without knowing what the company does. Yet, you would be amazed about how many times it gets asked.
Who would I speak with about taking longer lunch breaks because sometimes I will need to run personal errands or take care of family issues?
I’ve heard this kind of question more often than I care to remember. There is nothing wrong with getting clarification about a work schedule in the job interview. In this case, however, you do not want to sound as if you will be making up your own schedule to fit your needs rather than meeting the requirements of the company.
Is there any plan to get a union here at this company?
This was a question a colleague shared with me. Again, this is something that can be researched before the interview. You may very well not get a job offer if the recruiter gets the sense that you will organize employees into collective bargaining units.
How long do I have to work in this position before I can ask for a raise?
Your focus should be on getting the job offer for the position for which you are interviewing. If growth within the company is of interest to you, consider rephrasing the question. For example, “What are the opportunities for advancement for employees in this position?”
Can you guarantee me that I will still have a job here by next year?
No one can guarantee that a company will exist for any specific time in the future. You should be skeptical of anyone who might attempt to make you such a guarantee. Although stability may be a concern, it could make you seem desperate. This type of question actually is heard pretty frequently from people who may have been laid off or downsized. Try to get a sense of the organizational stability via company research, industry trends or general press or media.
What will you look for in the background screening? I am concerned about what you will find.
This question will be particularly worrisome to the recruiter if a job seeker raises it in the job interview. You can certainly ask about the next step in the hiring process, but to plant any seeds about what they may find in a background screening is not a wise move. Having said that, complete any background questionnaire honestly and clearly.
I did not get along with my last two supervisors; can you tell me more about my supervisor?
The age old rule is to not speak badly in the job interview about former employers or former supervisors in the job interview. Although the statement you are making may be true, it can also ruin your chances of a job offer. You don’t want the recruiter to see you as the problem employee who is unmanageable.
The actual words of that song I referenced in the opening is “..and then I go and spoil it all, by saying something stupid like…I love you.” Your goal is to ask questions that will get the employer to say – We love that candidate. Let’s make an offer!