7 Questions That Can Stop Your Interview Cold

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“Well, It Seemed Like a Good Idea to Ask at the Time…”

An Exclusive Guest Post for CareerJuice by HR pro & staffing expert Scott Singer


Scott Singer is a human resources professional and staffing expert with almost 20 years of in-house corporate HR and staffing firm experience. He has expertise in the intricacies of the hiring process, corporate staffing strategy, and the ins and outs of the HR department, which he’s sharing with job hunters on his blog, No Charge for These. You can email Scott at scottcsinger@gmail.com.



    Job interviews are minefields. You’re being judged so intensely, it’s almost like being on trial. The interviewers analyze, scrutinize every answer you give. They’re even assessing your personality for God’s sake.

    Okay, you survived the hour-long interview. It feels like your time on the hot seat went well. When the interviewers ask you if you have any questions for them, you think you’re home free. Just dazzle them with some of that spectacular intellect of yours by asking some insightful queries.

    You’d be surprised how many interviews go south at this point. For the first time during the interview, the candidate is in the driver’s seat – and asking careless questions of your interviewers (like any of the seven below) can be just as dangerous to your chances of landing the job as is texting behind the wheel:

    1. Question: What is the salary range for this position?

      Why it’s so dangerous: This is the atom bomb of candidate questions, guaranteed to derail just about any interview. It’s presumptuous of the candidate to bring up salary, and most interviewers find it plain distasteful. It demonstrates a lack of tact. I realize the hypocrisy – most companies aggressively ask for your salary history and expectations – but that’s just the way it is. Avoid bringing up the topic; it’s radioactive. You can’t win.
    2. Question: Are you required to carry a cell phone?

      Why it’s so dangerous: The question carries a hidden negative implication, and some interviewers may assume that the candidate doesn’t want to be reachable after office hours.
    3. Question: When does the company conduct its merit cycle?

      Why it’s so dangerous: Conveys the message that you’re already looking ahead to getting a raise you haven’t yet earned. Also implies that you’re trying to brace yourself to wait for more money in case the offer is too low.
    4. Question: Does this position offer the opportunity to work from home?

      Why it’s so dangerous: Where on earth did you get the idea that it offered the opportunity to work from home? Was it indicated in the job advertisement? If it wasn’t, then it’s not an option. In fact, the interviewer you’re meeting with would probably like to be working from home right now, but can’t because her job requires her to be in the office. Interviewing you.
    5. Question: What is the company’s maternity / paternity leave policy?

      Why it’s so dangerous: You thought you were just asking a quality of life question. Instead, you’ve planted the seed in your interviewer’s mind that you already plan to be absent for a substantial period of time from the job you haven’t even gotten. Never mind what the Family Medical Leave Act says – they’ll be thinking about all the deadlines they’ll miss if they hire you. Ask HR about this one after you get an offer.
    6. Question: What can you tell me about the company?

      Why it’s so dangerous: Did you do research before coming to this interview? Any research? It’s expected that you know this before even walking through the door. I’m genuinely shocked how many candidates ask this question – they look lazy and unprepared.
    7. Question: Are you seeing anybody?

      Why it’s so dangerous: Yes, I’ve had candidates ask interviewers on dates. Put that libido in check – it kills your chances for the job, and you probably won’t get the date, either.



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