Questions Not to Ask During a Job Interview

Remote Job Hunting

You’ve landed a job interview, now what?

Navigating job interviews can feel overwhelming. It sometimes feels like you have to do several things at the same time: show why you’re the perfect fit for the role, demonstrate your skills through words, explain things under pressure, assess if the role and company culture is the right fit for you, demonstrate your interest, and ask questions that will support all of the above

As you already know, preparation is key. You need to study the role, the company, and your information. Most importantly, you have to prepare to ask the right questions. These questions can show how interested and prepared you are, as well as how suitable for the role you are.

However, if you don’t ask the right questions, that can leave a negative impression and potentially keep you from landing that job.

We already talked about all the questions you should be asking and how you should be preparing for a job interview, so in this guide, we’ll focus on all those questions you should avoid asking, especially if you’re an experienced person looking for a new, remote job. We’ll also suggest what you can ask instead, to help you shine during your interview!

But First, This Is How to Start Preparing Your Questions

Before you think about what not to ask, you have to think about what to ask. Preparing questions for your interview is a crucial step in the interview process. Here are five steps to help you prepare your questions:

  1. Research the company
  2. Understand the job role
  3. Reflect on your career goals
  4. Consider the team and company culture
  5. Review and prioritize your questions

Once you’ve done that, you can focus on the questions you shouldn’t ask.

Questions to Avoid During a Job Interview

❌ Don’t ask “What does your company do?”

This question shows that you’re not prepared enough for the interview. While it’s fair to have specific questions about some products, how something works, or other details about the company, you can formulate the question in a better way, to show you’ve done your research and that you understand what the company is about.

✔️ Instead, ask:
  • I looked at your most recent launch and I’m curious to know about how different departments collaborate to launch a new product, can you tell me more about it?
  • What do you think customers love about your company?
  • I read about all your products/services but, is there one product/service that stands out for you?

Psst… also check out our guide to resume headlines to land more job interviews here.

❌ Don’t ask “What’s the salary for this position?”

We get it, money is what moves the world and you should be paid fairly for the work you do. Yes, many of us have a passion for what we do but, in the end, we need money to survive. Salary is a significant factor in job decisions but it’s better to avoid asking it outright in the first interview. What’s useful to know is how the company can also support you besides giving you a salary. Sometimes, things like benefits and future opportunities can also play an important role when deciding if you want to accept a job offer or not. Plus, it can also give you more tools to give a number, in case you’re asked to.

✔️ Instead, ask:
  • Can you tell me more about the total compensation package for the role?
  • What kind of benefits do employees at this company have?
  • What kind of professional development opportunities do you offer?

❌ Don’t ask “Does the company often lay off employees?”

Having job security is one of the most important aspects of accepting a job or choosing to look for a new one. You definitely should know if the company is offering you a secure position. After all, having a secure job can also lead to more job satisfaction and better productivity. But, if you ask this, it can seem negative or confrontational, which isn’t the impression you want to give during a job interview!

✔️ Instead, ask:
  • Can you share more about the company’s plans for growth?
  • In your experience, how stable is this industry?
  • How long have you been working at this company?
  • How long do people normally work at this company?

❌ Don’t ask “How quickly can I expect to be promoted?”

It’s great to be ambitious and to show that you want to grow within this company but this question might make you look impatient. Ideally, you want to show that you want to ‘climb the ladder’ but that you’re also going to fully invest your skills and time in the current role you’re being offered. Show that you want to contribute to the company in a positive way and that you’re patient enough to wait for growth and promotion opportunities when the time is right.

✔️ Instead, ask:
  • What does career progression look like for someone in this role?
  • How does this company support employees in reaching their long-term career goals?
  • Are there any learning and development resources or opportunities that the company offers to its employees?
  • Can you share an example of someone who advanced their career within the company?

❌ Don’t ask “Who was in this position before me?”

It’s definitely important to know why the role is open and how you would fit into the team. This question can easily backfire or make the interviewer uncomfortable, especially if the previous employee left under difficult circumstances. That’s why we suggest you focus on the role, instead of the person who left the company. This can also give you clues on the company strategy and the team you’ll be working with.

✔️ Instead, ask:
  • Why are you looking for someone for this role now?
  • Can you tell me more about the team I’ll be working with?
  • How do you expect this position will contribute to the company’s success?
  • How do you measure success in this role?

❌ Don’t ask “Do I have to work set hours?”

Especially for a remote role, it’s important to understand what the expectations of your availability will be. However, this question might make you look uncommitted. You can instead focus on how the team collaborates. Remember, this will also help you understand if the way they work fits what your expectations are, too. For this reason, it’s also important that you’re clear about how you like to work and how flexible you need work to be.

✔️ Instead, ask:
  • I know your team is spread around the world, how do you collaborate?
  • Is your company culture more asynchronous or synchronous?
  • What are the expectations for answering messages?
  • Do I have to be available at certain hours?
  • How do you work with people who are constantly traveling?

❌ Don’t ask “How soon can I take vacation time?”

We all love taking vacations but you don’t want to seem like that’s what you’re the most interested in. Rest and taking time off are super important and you need to know if the company will offer that, without it being perceived as you already planning to take time off as soon as you get the job. This could raise concerns about your commitment and dedication to the job. Especially if a company has an “Unlimited Time Off” policy, you should make sure you understand what unlimited means for this company and that people at the company are encouraged to take time off.

✔️ Instead, ask:
  • What’s the company’s policy on vacation and personal days?
  • Do you have a mental health day policy?
  • How often do you think people are taking time off at this company?
  • What are the expectations for someone who takes time off?

❌ Don’t ask “What happens if I don’t get along with my team or my boss?”

This question could signal that you’re expecting conflict and that can, definitely, raise a red flag for the interviewer. It’s important to know how conflicts are solved within the company and if there’s a culture of support or not, but you can reframe that question to help you actually understand how that works.

✔️ Instead, ask:
  • How does the team handle different working styles?
  • How does the team handle disagreements?
  • How do you make sure people can collaborate effectively?
  • How do you encourage positive team interactions?

You’re ready to shine in your interview!

Always remember that if you’ve landed an interview it’s because the company and the recruiters already want to know more about you. You already got their interest, now it’s time to shine. Using the right questions will highlight your skills, show your enthusiasm, and show that you’re the best fit for the role. By avoiding the questions listed above and going for the alternatives we suggest, you can convey your interest in the company and the role, your interest in knowing more about the team you’ll work with, and how you want to contribute to the team and the company. Also, don’t forget to check out how to answer the ‘tell me about yourself’ question, which can also help you get prepared for your interview.

Remember, preparation is key!

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