4 Questions that Will Cost You the Interview

By Aja Frost

“Are there any questions you’d like to ask me?”

It’s easy to write off this part of the interview as being less important. After all, it’s just a formality, right? You’ve already impressed the hiring manager with your amazing answers, enthusiasm, and poise.

But this section can actually make—or break—your chances of getting the job. Here are the four questions you should never ask—plus what to say instead if you actually need more information to gauge the company. (Spoiler: You always need more information.)

  1. Don’t Ask: “What’s Your Turnover Rate?”

It’s completely understandable to want to know how many employees leave the company each year. After all, a high number usually indicates there’s something wrong with the culture or environment.

But asking this question makes hiring managers bristle.

Instead Ask: “How Long Have You and the Rest of the Team Worked Here?”

No one will be offended by this question, and you can use it to determine how long your future co-workers (who are the most similar to you, anyway) have been sticking around.

  1. Don’t Ask: “How Often Do You Promote People?”

You should definitely factor in the potential for promotion when deciding whether or not to work somewhere. However, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re only taking this job so you can hop up the ladder.

Instead Ask: “Are There Professional Development Opportunities?”

The answer will quickly tell you if and how much the organization invests in its employees. In general, a company with a good-sized professional development budget likes to help its employees grow—and promote from within.

(Pro tip: To see how quickly current and former employees have moved up, take a peek at their LinkedIn profiles!)

  1. Don’t Ask: “What Are the Hours for This Role?”

With many companies offering flex work options, it makes sense you’d want to know whether you’ll be able to set your own schedule—or even work from home.

However, unless the position is part-time or they specifically mention their flex policies, just assume your hours will be the good ol’ 9 AM to 6 PM. Bringing it up makes you sound like you’ll be watching the clock from day one.

Instead Ask: “What Does a Typical Day Look Like for Your Team?”

While the most common response to this is, “There’s no typical day.” It’s usually followed up quickly with, “But, most days we get in around 9:30 and start…”

  1. Don’t Ask: “What Would You Change About the Company?”

Even though this is a legitimate question, you’re never going to get a genuine response; plus, you’ll put your interviewer in an uncomfortable position.

Instead Ask: “What’s a Challenge You Think I’ll Face in This Role?”

By phrasing it this way instead, you’ll discover what you really want to know—what will make your job difficult!

In addition, you can use the interviewer’s answer to write an impressive thank you note.

For example, let’s say she responds, “Well, you’re going to be the middleman between our designers and developers, and those guys are constantly clashing over how usable versus appealing our products are.”

You can now include a line in your thank you along the lines of, “Because I’ve designed and developed, I know how to communicate with both sides and am confident I can help unite the the teams to make a really strong product.”

Now that you know what you should and shouldn’t ask, you’ll be able to ace the interview from start to finish.

4 Questions That Will Cost You the Interview