Having well considered, thoughtful questions at the end of an interview can easily set you above other candidates.
But poorly thought-out questions can just as easily damage your relationship with a potential employer, head of career insights at Indeed, Jay Munro told Yahoo Finance.
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“One of the very attractive qualities of a candidate is someone who shows eagerness to do a job and to put in the effort and the work and also who shows a bit of humility,” he said.
Any question that works against those attributes should probably be avoided for that reason.
Munro highlighted three questions that candidates should think hard about before asking.
1. How long do I have to do this role before I can get promoted?
“That can set off some alarm bells,” Munro said.
While it’s a legitimate question to want answered, the way the question is phrased that can be damaging.
“It could indicate that you don't really want to do that job that you applied for because you want to do the next level up or a different role within the organisation,” he said.
“It's fine to want to know that type of information – a lot of people are career driven nowadays – but it could just be [a matter of rephrasing it as]: 'What are some of the opportunities for growth at ths company?' that you ask instead.”
2. What’s the salary?
You should steer clear of this question for a number of reasons.
Firstly, this would have ideally been canvassed in a screening phone call, or would have been available on the job advertisement. If an applicant has come to an interview for a job that they already know is paying less than they would like, they’re potentially wasting both their and the interviewer’s time.
“That doesn't reflect on you in a positive way for future transactions if you were to apply again.”
Additionally, it can also make you look as though you’re only interested in the money and not the actual job.
To an employer, Munro explained, “That could be a risk that the candidate might not stick around or might not be focused on actual productivity or being a top performer.”
3. How did I do?
Munro said this one causes a bit of debate among recruiters and interviewers. Some think it’s an acceptable question that displays curiosity and an eagerness to improve.
However, others disagree.
“For a lot of people, it puts them on the spot and can create an air of unease or discomfort which is memorable for the wrong reasons,” he said.
“My best advice is that if you want feedback, then wait until afterwards when you're in contact again and then ask over email or phone: ‘What did I do well and how could I have performed better?’
“People don't like being put on the spot and I think it's important to remember that.”
Interview tip: Make sure you listen
While not a specific question, Munro said it’s absolutely critical that you make sure you don’t ask any questions that make it clear you weren’t listening during the interview.
“It's really important to develop listening skills and actively use those in the interview.
“There will probably be a lot of talking about yourself as an interviewee but it's really important to keep an ear out for those little points you need to remember and not embarrass yourself by asking them to answer over and over again. “
Do I always need to ask a question at the end of an interview?
Up there with asking a bad question is not asking any questions at all. Candidates need to come to interviews prepared with questions and talking points to show they’re interested in the role and have done their research.
“Sometimes they [interviewers] do give a lot of information and it's hard to think of questions to ask but this is why it's so important to do that research,” Munro said.
That doesn’t just mean checking out the company website, it can also mean finding out what’s being written about the company in the media and financial statements.
“I think a lot of the challenge is that when we go into an interview we think our questions have to be about the job that we're applying for when it doesn't. They can be about the company,” he continued.
“Ideally, you can ask a question that demonstrates your excitement and also sparks that passion that the interviewer has as well. That would be great and really memorable.”