Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The questions to avoid in your interview

Written by Kaitlin Madden
For job seekers, asking questions during an interview is a cardinal rule. Doing so shows that you're interested in the position ("What would you want from me if I were to land this job?"), that you've been paying attention during the interview ("You said X, Y and Z. Can you expand on that?") and that you've researched the company ("I heard that you're expanding your core business. How has that affected marketing efforts?").

There is, however, a clause to the "questions" rule, which is this: Never ask any of the following during a job interview, or you'll jeopardize your chances of landing an offer.

1. How long has the company been around?
It's not that it's taboo to ask about the company's history, but you should avoid asking questions that could easily be answered on its website, says Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching, a Boston-based firm that helps recent college grads launch their careers.

Instead, ask questions that show you've done more-extensive research. Use the information you find to develop thoughtful, in-depth questions.

2. How are this quarter's earnings?
While it's good to ask questions that show you're familiar with the position and company, make sure that your questions are relevant to the interview and the position.

"It's OK to have a discussion that displays your knowledge of the industry and competition, but in the process, do not pry to make conversation regarding corporate strategy or you'll appear inappropriate," says Lynn Taylor, author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant" and CEO of Lynn Taylor Consulting, a career and workplace management firm based in Southern California.

3. Did you just get married?
"You will want to do a little background check on all of the people interviewing you so that you can gear your questions appropriately," Bolzan says.

"Just a few years ago it was a little creepy to mention you had checked out the interviewer's LinkedIn profile, but now it is expected. While you may find personal info when doing this research, never ask personal questions in the interview: dating status, family info, religion and -- for most roles -- politics, are all taboo," she says.

4. How often do you go to happy hour?
Sometimes, you might instantly hit it off with an interviewer. But regardless of how comfortable you begin to feel with the person, it's important to maintain a professional attitude. Questions about the frequency of happy hours or company parties are too casual for an interview.

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