You already know that you should take advantage of your opportunity to ask questions during an interview, but if you really want the job, there are also questions you should definitely avoid asking.

We’re not talking about the obvious no-no questions, like “So, did I get the job?” and “How did I do? When do I start?” We’re talking about questions that will make you look ill prepared, lazy, unqualified, opportunistic or downright suspicious—questions that will send your application right into the trash the minute you leave.

Job Fit

You definitely need to determine if the position you’re interviewing for is a job you can do and a job you would enjoy doing. But there are questions you shouldn’t ask when making this determination. First, don’t ask, “What are all the duties of this job?” The interviewer will tell you what you need to know, and will assume you’ve seen a posting about the job. Besides, you should have done your research about the job before the interview. Also, don’t ask, “Do I really need to have X skill to do the job?” The interviewer will cover the important skills, so you don’t need to bring up something you will only have to say you can’t do. Finally, never ever ask, “What does this company do?” If you don’t know that ahead of time and you let the interviewer know that you don’t know, you might as well go home.

Culture and Company

Yes, you should be asking questions about the company and its culture, since you'll have to consider whether you’ll be happy working there. But you should not ask questions about information you could easily find in an Internet search. This will just show that you haven’t done your research. You should also not ask questions based on gossip, like “I heard the CEO was being investigated for …” or “Someone told me managers here do this …” These kinds of questions are usually about irrelevant issues and will only make you look like a gossip, which is not good. Feel free to ask about industry information that is substantiated and pertains to your work or the organization’s standing in the market, but be careful.


It is important to consider your future with the company when deciding if you want to take a job there. But when you’re interviewing for that job, it’s because that is the job that needs to be filled. Do not ask, “When (or how soon) can I be promoted?” Or, “when will I be able to apply for other positions inside the company?” The hiring manager doesn’t want to go through the trouble of hiring someone for this position only to have him vacate it as soon as possible. Of course, most companies like to promote from within, or offer positions to people inside the organization before they are posted publicly, but this interview should be focused on the open position and not how quickly you will get out of it. The interviewer will quickly discount you if she thinks you aren’t interested in staying in the position.

Personal Privacy

Finally, you should at all costs avoid asking the questions “Do you do background checks?” “Do you do drug screening?” and “Do you monitor email and Internet use?” These questions only raise red flags for the interviewer and make them wonder if you have something to hide, at which point your application goes right into the NO pile. If they’re interested in you and something comes up in your background, they will ask about it. If they do drug testing, they’ll let you know. And most companies monitor email and Internet usage—it’s their property and they have a right to. The questions are pointless and will only raise suspicions about your trustworthiness.

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