Don’t blow an interview by asking foolish questions

by | 03.12.20

The easiest way of blowing an interview is by asking foolish questions. By this I mean questions that will make the employer think that you are not interested in their job you are only interested in what you can get out of the job. Or questions that will make the employer feel uncomfortable. I know that the reason we all work is in order to finance our lifestyle, improve our lives and to put bread on the table. I am also aware that work should fit your lifestyle. An employer though is not interested in any of that their mission is to recruit the best person for their job, someone who will give 100% to the role and ideally someone who will help the growth and success of the organisation. Here are some interview questions which should be avoided at all costs if you want to be offered a job:

Never ask about salary or benefits

By asking about pay and benefits the employer will immediately be irritated. This question is telling them that you are not interested in their job, you are only interested in what you will be getting out of their job. Leave it to the employer to bring up salary and benefits. This may not happen until you are offered the job.

Do not ask about salary review

This is worse than asking about salary. All salary reviews are based on performance, no-one automatically qualifies for a pay increase. By asking when you will be getting a rise before you have even been offered the job you are jumping ahead of yourself. And making yourself look like a greedy greg.

Avoid asking questions which start with “why”

Why can be considered an impertinent word. By asking a question which starts with why could be perceived as you interrogating the employer or questioning their method of working. No one likes a smart aleck so avoid asking this word at all costs.

Never ask if the hours of work are flexible

Cheeky question. Unless you are told the hours of work for the position are flexible then they are not. If you can’t work full time and by full time these days I’m talking 9am until 6pm, you shouldn’t be applying for full time roles. No employer is going to alter their trading hours to suit you. All the rest of their staff will be working set hours, so they are not going to make you an exception

Do not under any circumstances ask about promotion

Why would an employer want to discuss promotional prospects at an interview? You haven’t started the job yet, actually you haven’t even been offered the role. Promotion is earned, it’s never promised without an employer believing you deserve it and have the skills required to hold a more senior position

Never warn an employer off checking your social network profile

Before you start looking for a job you really must clean up your social network profiles. I promise you most employers will check you out and if yours is inappropriate in anyway, and I seriously mean any way, it will lose you a job offer. No one wants to employ anyone who can’t behave themselves in social situations, misbehaviour is best kept private


Do not under any circumstances ask what the day to day duties are

Didn’t you read the job specification? By asking this question you will be out the door quicker than you went in. Its probably the worst question you can ask. It really shows no interest in the role, you can’t be bothered to read and understand the job description so why should they offer you the role.

Never ever ask what the company does

By asking this question you are actually telling the employer you have done no research, you are a lazy disinterested person and are only at the interview because you are chasing a wage packet. It is absolutely crucial that you research the company before you attend the interview and understand what the company you are looking to work for does.

It would be very silly to ask what other jobs the employer has

Do not appear to be an opportunist. By asking if the employer has any other jobs basically you are saying you don’t fancy the job you have applied for and have only come for the interview to see if there is anything better available. You are also telling the employer when you ask this question that you are unfocused and fickle.

Never ever ask if the employer is going to take up references

Any potential employer will definitely take up references, no-one is going to not check you out. By asking this question you are indicating that there is going to be a problem with your references. If this is the case you are best rather than asking “ do you take up references” to put up your hand and explain why it could be that you will not get a good reference , that way at least you will show yourself as a decent , honest person.

Avoid asking about maternity or paternity leave

If you ask this question you are basically telling the employer, you are planning to start a family in the very near future. Not a good thing to tell a potential employer. This may be what you are planning but now is not the right time to share. By saying this all you are going to do is panic the employer and all they will be thinking is “I don’t want to be refilling or covering this role again in the near future”.

Another question not to ask is how much holiday you will get

By asking this question it looks as if you want to book time off before you have even started the job. At this point you should not even be thinking about holidays never mind trying to book one. You have not been offered the job yet. Normal holidays are 20 days a year and statutory holiday. Anything else is a bonus, so you know the answer to this question really.

A big no go question is do you get sick pay

Planning on being ill, are you? Why would you ask this question? Are you trying to alert the employer that you have health issues? Nothing will put an employer off more than when they hear someone constantly pulls sickies. Sick pay information will be in your contract or employment which you will get if you are offered the job. Ask about sick pay and your chances of getting offered the job are zero.

Never suggest that an employer should finance professional training

If an employer is providing a study package it will be advertised in the job description. Employers usually only offer finance professional qualifications if they are essential to the role and they are recruiting for a trainee. If you want to improve your qualifications then its down to you generally. It’s a great thing to do because it will help your career and hopefully improve skills, but I’m sorry usually you have to pay for the courses yourself and do it in your own time.

During my time in recruitment I have seen people lose job offers by asking these questions. In fact I could list more if had the time and didn’t think I’d bore you silly. But the advice here is think before you speak and give thought to how the employer will react to what you have asked . In an interview situation you should be trying to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job and not giving them reasons for not employing you.

Good Luck

Angela Burton