Interviews: five questions to avoid asking at all costs

Here are five questions you should never, ever ask if you want to have the best possible chance of landing your top job

You have made the interview stage and it is good practice to have some questions up your sleeve as part of your preparation; in fact, there will be things that you will need to ask to help you decide whether you would like to work there should you be offered the job.

1. What does your company do?

Who would apply for a job not knowing what sector they might be going into? It is down to you to find out beforehand and perhaps ask a more poignant question, such as what the priorities are for the coming year. Mentioning something you have read or seen in the press is always impressive; for example, if you have read that the company is planning to expand into the Asian market, you could ask how the role you are being interviewed for would contribute.

2. How many others are you interviewing?

It does not matter how many others are being interviewed – the whole point is that you have been selected and you have as good a chance as anyone else. Contemplating the competition does not give the interviewer confidence in you.

3. What qualities do you look for in your employees?

Let’s face it, this question is a total waste of time. You have probably spent hours reading the job specification and filling in an application form or rewriting a CV to match the criteria the employer has asked for; instead, ask something that shows your interest in the role, such as how the role will help the department to achieve its aims for the year.

4. If I am not successful today, would you consider me for another role?

This gives the impression that you are giving up before you have even given the interview panel a chance to consider you. If you are not offered the role for which you have been interviewed, consider asking the HR department to keep your details on file in case you might be suitable for another role at a later date. After all, you have been interviewed once and the company will have a record of your performance.

5. Does it matter if I don’t have all the skills you require?

A lack of confidence in your ability does not bode well. Most interviewers will simply say they need to consider other attributes and it is your job to convince them that you are the right person for the role. Managers need people who can contribute to their teams; therefore, talk about what you can do to help and steer clear of any shortcomings unless you are specifically asked. Even these can be turned into a positive – if you can’t be convincing, your interviewer won’t be convinced.

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