When preparing for a job interview, it’s easy to spend so much time practicing answers for questions the interviewer might ask that you neglect to think about the things you’d like to learn about a prospective employer. Don’t make that mistake: come prepared with the right questions, and you stand a much better chance of figuring out if you’d actually be happy working for the company on a day-to-day basis. Just make sure you don’t ask any of these.
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1. “Do I need to work overtime?”
Work-life balance is important, but there are ways to figure out whether your future boss will expect you to burn the midnight oil on a regular basis, without making it sound like you’re waiting for the 5 o’clock whistle to blow, so that you can slide down the Brontosaurus tail like Fred Flintstone.
At Monster.com, Susan Bryant advises asking the interviewer, “Can you describe the environment here?“
“Listen to the adjectives the interviewer uses,” says Bryant. “What aspects of working there does he or she choose to talk about — the camaraderie among employees, the career development opportunities or the free breakfast bar?”
Especially watch out for too many references to unlimited vacation or free food — those perks can be great, but they can also be a sign that the company is hoping you’ll stick around for an unofficial second or third shift.
2. “When can I have time off?”
If and when you receive an offer, you should discuss any upcoming holiday or vacation plans and negotiate for the time you need. Don’t, however, bring this up in your initial interviews with the hiring manager or HR. The last thing you want to do is give the impression that you’re already thinking about when you can escape.
3. “What’s my salary?”
As much as possible, let the company lead the discussion of compensation. Do your research ahead of time, and come prepared with a salary range in mind — but let the interviewer broach the topic first. In any negotiation, it’s always best to avoid naming a figure first, if you possibly can. You might be pleasantly surprised to discover that their number was higher than the one you would have pitched.
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