How to Blow the Interview With Bad Questions

When the job interviewer asks if you have any questions, tread delicately.

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Michael Wade
The moment arrives in the job interview when the interviewer leans forward and asks: "Do you have any questions?"

This is one of the most dangerous moments for the job applicant.

What the question (often) really means is: "Do you have any simple questions that I can easily answer and which will not make me reconsider my tentative decision to offer you the job?"

Because of this, the applicant should avoid asking:

  • "What is the benefits package?"
  • "How much vacation time would I get the first year?"
  • "To whom do you report?"
  • "How do you like working here?"
  • All of those have a potentially lethal impact. Any question that might make the interviewer uneasy is a question that might lose the job. Asking about benefits or vacation can come after an offer is made. Any questions about office politics should be delayed until one is actually on the job and, even then, brought up delicately.

    Some employment advisers suggest asking questions that reveal the applicant has done some research on the organization. Those are fine, provided the questions are softballs tossed slowly across the plate. Inadvertently embarrassing an interviewer may eliminate a job offer that was just on the verge of fruition.

    Michael Wade writes, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.