Tomorrow is Ask a Stupid Question Day, and while your elementary school teachers may have told you that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, they probably weren’t thinking about your future job interviews when they said that. Because make no mistake: when it comes to interviewing, there is definitely such a thing as a stupid question.
But, don’t let that scare you. Stupid interview questions are pretty easy to identify, once you know what to watch out for. In short, they’re the ones that make you look like you don’t know, don’t care and don’t care to find out. If you could learn the answer to your question with some basic research, it’s not a good question to ask an interviewer.
Stupid interview questions make you look like you don’t know, don’t care and don’t care to find out.
Avoid these, and you’ll be off to a good start:
1. What does this company do?
Again, your pre-interview research will tell you this. Before you meet with a hiring manager, you should have read up on the company, combing its website and social media feeds, as well as reading any recent news about the organization.
2. “What other jobs are available here?”
Susan Joyce at Job-Hunt points out that this kind of question indicates “lack of interest in the current job.” No one wants to hire someone who’s already looking to move on, even within the organization.
3. “How much does this job pay?”/“When can I get a raise?”
The salary negotiation phase starts after the employer has extended an offer. Start the conversation before that, and you run the risk of looking like you’re only in this for the money. (You are also in this for the money, don’t get me wrong. But initially, it’s better to focus on the job and whether it’s a good fit for you.)
4. “How much vacation do I get and when can I take it?”
Again, you shouldn’t accept an offer until you understand everything about the compensation and benefits, including paid time off. But you don’t want to start by asking when you can leave the office. The hiring manager will get the impression that you’re already focused on vacation, before you’ve even landed the job.
5. “What was that? I wasn’t listening.”
During job interviews, you take in a lot of information in a short period of time. It’s natural to need clarification on the details. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s OK to tune out and ignore what the other person is saying.
Job interviews require top-notch listening skills. Be ready to be attentive, to follow up on any points of confusion, and to focus on building understanding right from the start. Actively engage with the conversation, instead of letting the information wash over you, and you’ll stand a much better chance of retaining what you hear. You’ll also leave a much more favorable impression on the hiring manager.
Want more? Check out, 5 More Questions You Should Never Ask During a Job Interview.
Tell Us What You Think
What’s the worst interview question you’ve ever asked (or answered)? We want to hear from you. Share your story in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.