Interview Etiquette: 5 Questions You Should and Should Never Ask in an Interview



When you’re interviewing for a new job, don’t forget that you’re not only the interviewee, but also the interviewer. To fulfill both of these roles, there are important questions you should ask as well as avoid in order to follow proper interview etiquette. Asking the right questions can help you determine if the job is a good fit for you. And, avoiding the wrong questions will help ensure that you get the job. So, here are five questions that you should ask, and five questions that you should never ask, in a job interview.

Five Questions to Ask in a Job Interview

  1. “Can you describe a typical day for someone in this position?” This is a good first question to ask in order to learn about the position and the employer’s true expectations.
  1. “What is the history of this position and how many people have held it?” This is a great second question that helps delve deeper than the first so that you find out about the company structure and clues as to the reasons for the last person leaving the position. You can learn a lot depending on whether the interviewer is vague and indirect or direct and specific in answering this question.
  1. “What were the major strengths and weaknesses of the last person who held this job?” This is a good way to find out about the employer’s priorities while also tactfully learning about what may have happened to the last person without asking directly. How this question is answered will tell you a lot about the dynamics and expectations of this workplace.
  1. “What are the biggest challenges in this position?” If the interviewer is straightforward with you or vague, the answer will tell you a lot about the downsides of the job without making you look unprepared to face a challenge.
  1. “What is the evaluation process for this position and what are the criteria?” The answer to this question will tell you about the priorities of the employer as well as a great deal about how the workplace operates.

Just as there are good questions to ask, there are questions that an interviewee should never ask in an interview. This is not only about specific questions not to ask, but also how not to ask a question. The result can either reflect poorly on you or fail to provide the information that you need to assess the employer, the position, and your fit for the job.

Five Questions to Avoid Asking in a Job Interview:

  1. Don’t ask closed-ended questions: The best interviews are conversations rather than just question and answers. When you ask closed-ended, “yes” or “no” questions you inhibit conversation limiting what you can learn about the employer and the position as well as what the interviewer can learn about you.
  1. Don’t ask “will I have to?” questions. This projects a poor attitude that makes you look like a non-team player. It can also make you look bad even if the question is important but you have phrased it poorly. For instance, “will I have to work nights,” or “will I have to work weekends?” are poor ways to phrase questions that have importance. This can be drawn out in a much better way by asking Question #1 of the five questions to ask.
  1. Don’t ask “Me” questions. This goes hand-in-hand with the above taboo as many people use personal circumstances or interests to explain a “will I have to” question. For instance, “will I have to work weekends, because I have weekend visitation with my children?” This is not only too much information, but it also makes you seem a little self-absorbed.
  1. Informational questions: Do not ask questions that can be easily answered by doing your homework before the interview. The interview time is limited, and you don’t want to appear lazy or squander it with questions you can gain answers to through basic research.
  1. Any question that shows you haven’t been listening; listening skills are important for any position and vital for healthcare and human services professionals. When you ask questions that have already been answered in the interview, it raises potentially insurmountable red flags with the interviewer. If you can’t focus enough to listen during the interview, what are the chances that you will miss vital information on the job?
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