Questions you should NEVER ask in an Interview Session.

Interviews as we know them

An ideal interview session is a two-way street (Forbes), at least that’s what it should be. For the employer, this helps them to determine if the interviewee is the best fit for the job and on the part of the candidate, it helps their understanding of the job requirements and if it is best suited to their goals and fits their career path.

Unfortunately, employers are perceived to hold the cards and call the shots. Candidates need to understand that declining to ask questions is no show of modesty and asking questions has nothing to do with arrogance. On this issue, the contrary is the case, and here’s the truth you need to know.

Why you should ask Questions as an Interviewee

Now before you imagine that this heading is in contrast to the title, it’s not. Read again. Asking questions as an interviewee is just as necessary to you as it is to the recruiter. It is important to understand that you must be prepared in advance to ask questions that will enable you to make the best decision as regards your job. Asking questions gives you a better idea of the company’s goals, culture, and leadership style as well as if they are in line with your ideals.

Listen to the Stats

When a Career Builder surveyed more than 2,500 employers for a study completed in December 2012, it found that 32% of hiring managers reported that not asking good questions is one of the most detrimental mistakes job candidates make during interviews. Not having questions could potentially make you look uninterested in the position or show a lack of confidence.

So, if you have intentions of landing that job, prepare in advance and have a couple of intelligent questions to ask. However, if you discover that you are not interested in the job during the course of the interview, then you don’t have to ask any questions.

Ask Good Questions!

Also, declining to ask questions is simply missing an opportunity that you’ve done your research about the organization you wish to work for. Asking good questions leaves the interviewer with a good impression of you.

Understand that as much as it’s good to ask questions, you don’t want to appear too ‘forward’ or jump into touchy competitive areas just to appear savvy. You are better off sticking to questions bordering on the organization’s mission or vision.

Now you know you should ask good questions as an interviewee especially when given the opportunity, which is usually the case. The next question is, what questions should you ask and which ones should you avoid?

Questions an Interviewee can ask

  • What would you say are the three most important skills needed to excel in this position?
  • What specific qualities and skills are you looking for in the job candidate?
  • Does the company offer continued education and professional training?
  • What particular achievements would equate to success at this job?
  • How can I best contribute to the department?
  • What distinguishes this company from its competitors?
  • How can this position contribute to the success of the organization?
  • What is the ideal communication style with your staff? Do you meet regularly with your team, rely on email, use status reports or work primarily through other means?
  • What is the typical career trajectory for a person in this position?

Questions an Interviewee should NEVER ask

  • Never ask questions about the interviewer’s background.
  • Never ask if you can change the job details, the schedule or salary.
  • Also, never ask “what does your company do?”.
  • Never ask how quickly you can be promoted.
  • Avoid questions about anything based on hearsay.

Back to the interviewers, interviewers should be careful not to ask questions that make the candidate uneasy or get defensive. Here are some questions the interviewer should never ask.

A Tip for Recruiters as well

  • Avoid personal questions like, ‘’do you have kids?’’.
  • Do not ask a candidate when they graduated. Rather find a tactful way of asking about their degree and subsequent experience.
  • Do not ask where a candidate lives. It may come off as or misconstrued as discrimination. Alternatively, you can ask if they are happy with the location of the office so you can give them a chance to talk about proximity.
  • Never ask a candidate why they should be given the job. It’s quite cliché but it does come off as confrontational and makes the candidate feel a lot of pressure.
  • Never ask a candidate about their religion as this will certainly come off as discriminatory.


Remember that the aim of interviews is to find common interests. For the interviewer, it is all about finding a candidate who is best suited for a particular position and aligns with the visions and goals of the organization. For the interviewee, an interview gives you an opportunity to display an appreciable level of knowledge and also helps you find out if the job matches your interest.

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