Things candidates should and shouldn’t ask during a job interview
Mar 16, 2022
We’ve all been told that the secret to nailing a job interview is at the very end when your interviewer enquires, ‘is there anything you’d like to ask me?’ This is your opportunity to influence the direction of the interview and draw attention to some of your core experiences and competencies that perhaps have not yet been discussed.
But question asking in itself is not some magical panacea that guarantees you the job, and there are some things you definitely shouldn’t ask…
Do ask: Questions about the company’s strengths and weaknesses. Don’t ask: Can you tell me a little more about the company?
During an interview, an employer is more likely to tell you some things about the organisation that they don’t talk about publicly. This could include their business strategies and ambitions for the future, where they feel they are falling behind the competition and other important details.
By asking about this you seem engaged, but it also gives you the opportunity to talk more about where you could slot into the organisation’s dynamic.
However, don’t waste the interviewer’s time by asking them simple questions about the company that are readily available on their website, as that will make you look unprepared.
Do ask: What does a typical Monday morning look like? Don’t ask: What can you tell me about the role?
While you should have a good idea about what the job involves from its advert and the interview up to that point, job descriptions usually talk more generally about a role’s responsibilities and the position of the role in the overarching structure of the organisation.
This means you may have little insight into what a typical week in the job would actually consist of, so the ‘typical Monday’ line is a fantastic question to ask as it will enable you to decide if the job sounds like it’s for you or not.
Similarly to the above, you should avoid asking really basic questions about the job. Candidates commonly fall back on ‘could you tell me a little bit more about the job?’ as a default question at the end of an interview. The problem is it instantly makes alarm bells ring in the recruiter’s ears. You’ve been discussing the role for the last hour… it just seems like you haven’t been paying attention.
Do ask: What do you like most about the role? Don’t ask: What do you dislike about the role?
This question might not always be applicable, but there will be occasions where you’re being interviewed for a job by someone who used to do that role, or still does. This is always advantageous as you can ask them about why they enjoy/d about it, giving you a great snapshot of the role.
These kinds of questions also help to develop rapport with the interviewer, and who knows it could be that little bit of schmoozing and bonding that lands you the role.
Don’t be tempted however to then ask them what they dislike about the job. While you might think being so open and candid will win you more brownie points, it could also leave a bad taste in the interviewer’s mouth — you haven’t even got the job yet but you’re thinking about it negatively.
Do ask: About training Don’t ask: About other roles
Employers like candidates to be ambitious, so asking about training and development is a good way to score some points. Whether it’s training that directly relates to your role or ways you could expand your core responsibilities in the future, asking about this will only be a positive.
Don’t however ask about other jobs in the company, for example, if a different job role will soon have a vacancy. This makes it seem like you’re not really interested in doing the job you’ve applied for and are simply hoping it gives you a quick segue into something else.
Looking for more interview tips?
Check out our resources here.