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Asking Questions in a Job Interview: Do's and Don'ts

Aug 10, 2012 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

Interviews are stressful. And sometimes the most stressful part is at the end, when the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them. Sometimes knowing what to ask can be difficult, especially when you know that you’ll be judged as much on your questions for them as much as on your answers to their questions. Here are a few tips for asking questions in a job interview.

Do your research ahead of time

Interviewers will view it more positively if it looks like you read up on the company before you came. Read news articles, check out the corporate website for recent news, and find out about the most recent developments. Ask questions that show you’ve looked into them and are excited about the direction the company is going in.

Don’t ask obvious questions you can find out from their website


The exact questions you should ask will depend on the job and what you want to know. But it’s usually safe to stay away from specific questions about salary and benefits.



On the other hand, if you ask questions that are easy to find by simply browsing the company website or the materials provided to you in advance, you pretty much tell the interviewer that you came to the interview unprepared. This wastes your time and theirs.

See Also: Are You Sabotaging Yourself In job Interviews?, Online Degrees in Human Resources

Do ask open-ended questions

Try to avoid questions that have a simple “yes” or “no” answer. You want to encourage conversation, and these questions tend to be conversational dead-ends. Instead, ask questions that require a more considered, in-depth, or thoughtful response.

Don’t ask about salary, benefits, or vacation time

This is always considered a red flag by interviewers—it indicates you care more about the personal benefits to you than you do about the company itself. Of course, this may be true—and there’s nothing wrong with that—but it’s not something you want to advertise in a job interview. Wait for the interviewer to bring it up, or save it for when they’ve decided to hire you.

Do ask about the interviewer’s background within the company

Nobody likes to be cross-examined—but it’s not a bad idea to ask the interviewer a few questions about their own experience working with the company. Asking them something like “what do you like best about working with this company?” can help you pick up a few vital clues as to what it would really be like to work there.

Don’t ask no questions

This is potentially the worst move you could make. It shows you have no interest in the company, haven’t done your research, and haven’t thought deeply about whether or not this job would be a good fit for you. Always come prepared with questions, and listen during the interview to pick up ideas for more.

Do ask about the company culture

Asking a question like “what would you say is the culture or spirit of this company?” is a good move—it shows you’re interested in discovering how you would fit in. Asking something like “if you could change anything about the corporate culture, what would it be?” is also a good decision. It allows you to tactfully discern whether there are any potential problems you might face later in the workplace—and develop a more realistic sense of what the atmosphere is like on a daily basis.

The exact questions you should ask will depend on the job and what you want to know. But it’s usually safe to stay away from specific questions about salary and benefits—while trying to get a realistic sense of what it’s like and whether you’ll fit into the corporate culture, as well as the types of opportunities this job could potentially provide you. Ask thoughtful questions based on research, and you should be able to ace this part of the interview.


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