Yes, There are Stupid Questions

By: Elias Cobb, National Recruiting Manager at Quantix

You know that old saying, “There are no stupid questions?”  The one teachers and parents always told us?  Well, they were wrong.  There are some stupid questions, especially when it comes to interviewing.  And in this case, I’m not talking about questions coming from the interviewer.  I’m talking about the questions the candidate asks when the interviewer says, “Do you have any questions for me?”

First, have some questions prepared.  I think that topic has been beaten into the ground.  Everyone should always have something to ask.  I’m sure you could Google multiple lists of good questions to ask.  Email me – I can give you a bunch.

However, there are definitely questions you shouldn’t ask.  Generally, I think these come out of a lack of preparation; where the interviewer did a great job of covering most everything, and the three questions you had prepared were covered.  Now what?  You know you HAVE to ask a question. 

Don’t do this:

1) Ask what happens if you break obvious rules.  For example, “what is your attendance policy?”  Don’t ask questions about rules, as it makes you look like you’re already planning on breaking them before you even get the job.

2) Ask about dress code.  Does it really matter if you get casual Fridays?  Is that going to keep you from taking the job?  I guess if it matters that much, ask away.  But if not, don’t ask.  It makes you look like you’re going to be a pain to deal with.

3) Ask about a bunch of perks and ancillary benefits.  Of course you should ask about medical coverage, PTO, bonuses, and the like.  That’s expected.  But don’t ask if you get an eco-pass, or if you get free soda in the break room.  Again, does it matter?  Are you going to turn the job down if you don’t get free soda?  Why ask? 

I guess the overriding concept here is this:  Don’t ask questions that have no bearing on whether you will take the job or not.  Do a smidge more preparation and have enough questions ready that you don’t have to fall back on asking off-the-cuff questions that might leave a bad impression.

And yes, I have had candidates ask these questions, and yes, they were rejected by the client.  Perhaps I have had other candidates ask them and get hired, and I never knew because it didn’t come up.  However, when the client manager specifically mentions these “abnormal” questions when giving feedback, you know it made an impression, and not a good one in at least a few cases.

If you need help in preparing some good questions, let me know.  I’m happy to help!

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