Five questions you really want to know but should avoid asking at interview

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Four people dressed in business wear waiting along a wall for an interview opportunity.

We’ve all done it at one time or another: walking away from an interview cringing and wishing you hadn’t said this or asked a question that way. Sometimes when you’re on the spot, it can be tricky to keep a cool head. The mouth does not necessarily always speak the words that the mind instructs!

Many interviewees assume interviews are a one-sided affair and simply an opportunity for new employers to interrogate prospective employees. The reality is that interviews today are rarely question-answer style meetings. In days of old this was certainly the norm, but in 2024 it’s the exception rather than the rule. We fully expect an interview for both temp and permanent roles to take on a more conversational approach – not dissimilar from a first date! This is a chance for both parties to find out what they need to about each other and ensure a fully informed decision is made.

That being said, just like a first date, there are some questions you just can’t ask straight away! Here, we explore what some of these might look like and why it’s not a good idea to plunge straight in.

1. What’s the salary?

This is the obvious one of course. If you’ve been introduced to the company through a recruiter, you will probably have an idea on remuneration. However if not, and if the job ad didn’t disclose it, you may not know the remuneration and benefits. While it’s certainly a significant consideration in every recruitment process, it’s not a question you should be asking at interview, especially at the initial stages. If however, they ask you about your salary expectations, you can feel free to disclose this along with the more appropriate question, “Does this fall in line with your budget for the role?”

2. Can I work from home?

Flexible working may well be an option for your prospective employer, but unless they bring it up, don’t ask. It simply doesn’t bode well for their potential new starter to be asking about working from home before they’ve even sat at their desk. Wait to enquire about the option once you’ve established yourself as a promising employee and earned the trust from your peers and management.

3. What does the business do?

It goes without saying that if you haven’t completed your research on the business beforehand, it will be assumed that you’re not enthusiastic about working there. It also indicates a lack of initiative. Before your interview, we would recommend spending at least an hour familiarising yourself with their website and additional time looking at news items surrounding their company / industry.

4. How did I do?

Ask this, and things could risk getting awkward! A more appropriate question would be to ask them what the next stage of the process entails. Then leave it there. If they enjoyed meeting you, they will definitely ask you about your availability to come back. If you don’t hear from them within the timeframe they’ve indicated, it’s entirely acceptable to get in touch with them and ask for feedback.

5. Asking no questions at all

Asking no questions at all indicates a lack of creativity and resourcefulness. In all likeliness following your research, you will have thought about a couple of questions anyway, but if not, take the time to think about what matters to you most in a role, and carve out some questions from there. For example, asking about the personalities of the team and the business culture are entirely reasonable. Enquiring into the priorities of the role and foreseen challenges pertaining to the position are also valid queries.

If you’d like some further tips on how to interview, get in touch with us today. We also offer training to job seekers looking for extra help! Good luck!

Author David Morel Tiger Recruitment Team

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