14 Questions You Should Never Ask at a Job Interview

Scored a job interview? Congratulations! Want to stay in the running and make it past the first interview? Then avoid asking these alarmingly common deal-breaker questions. We all know how important it is not only to intelligently answer the hiring manager’s questions, but also to ask our own questions (so we seem engaged and interested). Some questions, though, should never be asked in a job interview:

How much does the job pay?
This is by far the top pet-peeve question for hirers. They want to think that you’re so in love with the job that money isn’t such a big issue for you. “Raising the subject of money during the interview stage may give the impression, rightly or wrongly, that all you care about is money, as opposed to working as part of a team and giving your heart, soul, and first-born child to the corporation,” says Todd Moster, a Los Angeles legal recruiter.

Salary is the elephant in the room that no one acknowledges during the interview phase, says Moster. You’ll get a chance to discuss pay once you get an offer, but you may not get an offer if you discuss pay first.

What is the benefits package?
Ditto. If you don’t love your career, it will show in your interview. Take a few minutes to take a free career interest test if you want to know your best career fit.

What are the hours? “This is the question that makes me cringe more than any other,” says financial-industry executive recruiter Paul Solomon. “Try 24-7, like every other position these days. Wall Street managers don’t want a clock watcher, so when I hear that question, I know the candidate won’t be the right fit.”

How much vacation time will I get? If you want to give the impression that you’re more interested in time off than working, ask this question. Otherwise, save it until after an offer has been extended, recommends Cathleen Faerber, managing director of The Wellesley Group, an executive search company.

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4 responses to “14 Questions You Should Never Ask at a Job Interview

  1. I don’t want the employer you describe. The advice in these 14 questions is why US corporations feel able to treat their US employees so much worse than they treat their employees in the EU and in other 1st world countries. Only in the US, do employers demand that a prospective employee commit (falsely if that prospective employee has any character at all) to putting his or her job before the rest of his or her life. And the fact that a good number of Americans do exactly that is the source of any number of social ills in our country.

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  3. Celia Collymore

    Hi Frances,
    I agree with these questions and think that on the first interview the candidate’s focus should be more on selling themselves by highlighting their knowledge, skills and abilitites and how these can be transferred/translated into adding value to a potential employer. The answers to many of those questions can be learned by doing further research and if an offer is extended, most of these details are provided by the HR representative from the onset or you will have the opportunity to ask those questions at that stage.
    I am excited that I am now connected to you, have the opportunity to not only follow you, but learn a lot from the information you share along with your experience and insights. Will be sharing with my mentee and friends.

  4. Hi Celia,
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment– I’m also excited to be connected! If your mentee or friends have any questions for me, please do have them send a note.
    All my best,

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