By Jim Wong, CPA | March 10, 2013


When you ask questions during an interview, you show your interest and curiosity and it shows respect that you did your homework before the meeting. The right questions in an interview can further your candidacy, demonstrate your qualifications, give you an edge over the competition, help you determine if it’s the right culture fit, and generate a positive rapport with the interview according to a recent article on PR Daily.

You have a limited time during an interview, and there is a lot of ground to cover.

But, there are some questions you should avoid. “Stupid questions usually come from candidates who are more interested in knowing what the company can do for them. They can be a result of laziness or even a lack of genuine interest in the job. They are stupid because they do not really focus on the purpose of the interview, which is to discover if the job is a good fit and get an offer,” says PR Daily contributor Denise Zimmerman.

She offers three primary categories stupid questions fall under.

Obvious Interview Questions
When you ask questions that can be easily looked up, it shows you are lazy and uninterested. “These sorts of questions reflect poorly on your preparation and professionalism,” says Zimmerman.

Examples of these questions are:

  • Who are your clients?
  • When was the company founded?
  • What products and services do you offer?
  • Who else works here?

Before you arrive at an interview, do your research about the company. Review the company’s website, look at its blog or published articles, and review executive LinkedIn profiles, suggests Zimmerman.

All-About-Me Interview Questions
These questions reflect you put your needs before those of your employer. An interview is the time to determine whether you are a good fit for a company. Once you have the offer, you can ask what the company can do for you adds Zimmerman. Questions to avoid in this category include:

  • Changes in schedule
  • Time off
  • Summer hours
  • Work from home
  • Raises or promotions
  • Anything related to salary or benefits

If you want to ask about growth and advancement, ask about the company plans and how you fit in suggests Zimmerman. “In this case, it is how you ask to gain the insight and answers you need,” she says.

No Interview Questions
It’s a bad idea not to have any questions for the hiring manager. It makes you look uninterested and unimaginative. Choose smart, informed questions such as:

  • What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 days?
  • What are the common attributes of your top performers?
  • What are a few things that really drive results for the company?
  • What do employees do in their spare time?
  • How do you plan to deal with XYZ competitor/economic trend/a challenge the company faces?

The best candidates use questions like these to assess how they would fit in with the company’s culture, and if their goals are aligned.

“Asking great questions tells an interviewer you want to make an informed decision,” Zimmerman says. “You will be judged as much on the questions you ask as you will the answers you give.”

There is increased competition for great jobs in today’s economy and the wrong question can kill the good impression you’ve already made. It’s important to pick thoughtful questions about the job and organization. The questions you ask a hiring manager weigh heavily in their ultimate decision on whom to hire.

This article originally appeared on Clear Focus Financial Search.


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