Getting Started Job Interview Tips

Ace the Interview: Avoid These Questions!

Ace the Interview: Avoid These Questions!
Written by Miranda Pennington

The most stressful part of an interview for many people is when you’ve recapped the job responsibilities and your experience and the hiring manager leans back and says, “So, do you have any questions for me?”

The recruiting whiz kids over at Careerealism have compiled a list of red flag questions that would make any employer think twice about your application—all you have to do is remember to ask anything else.

“Are you going to check my Facebook?”

Recent court cases have actually begun to tilt in favor of applicant privacy, but it’s always better not to ask something that makes you look guilty. Before you go in for an interview, double-check your privacy settings and make sure you’ve vetted your friends list. Consider locking your Twitter and Instagram if you tend to be very free with your words there too!

“What are the company perks?”

If the company that’s interviewing wants to hire you, odds are they will tell you what perks to expect! Hold off until you’re filling out hiring paperwork with HR to ask about things like tech discounts or mileage reimbursements. A roundabout way to uncover the same information is “What do you love about working here?” or “How do you find the workplace culture?”

“Will I have to work evenings or weekends?”

Again, wait until you have a job offer and see what your contract says. Nobody who “really wants a job” would ask this question—at least that’s how your prospective employer is likely to see it. Even if you know you’ll have childcare or transportation concerns, until the ink is dry, at least create the illusion that the company’s productivity comes before your own!

“What exactly does your company do?”

You would be better off kicking your shoes off and taking a nap mid-interview than asking this one. Who applies for a job—or worse, schedules an interview!—without learning at least a little about the company they’re visiting!? Believe me, I’ve been in that frenzied state of applying to e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g, and when I got the exciting interview call or email, I had to quickly Google and find out who on earth I’d just agreed to meet with.

Do your research! Have a recent recent article that mentions the company or one of its clients ready to refer to, and have specific questions about this job in this department. They don’t have to be particularly soul-searching, but they should be focused and reflect actual curiosity on your part.

Now make sure your buttons are buttoned and your shoes are shined, and go ace that interview!

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.