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5 Questions You Should Never Ask in an Interview

interview, question, goal

Times are tough (and apparently, my writing is pretty cliche).

Many are in the marketplace looking for employment, scouring the internet, sending out applications, and hopefully getting interviews.

But what do you do when you get to the interview?

I’m going to give you five questions that you should NOT, I repeat, absolutely should NOT, ask during an interview:

1. I’ve never really heard of your company. What is it you guys do, exactly??

Might be a good idea to come in prepared with the research already completed on your prospective employer. At least it would have been a prospective employer, had you not botched the interview with this question.

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2. Hmm, I noticed you have eleven paid holidays. Is there any chance you might change that to twelve??

You might want to ask that question, and stand up to leave at the same time … right before the interviewer shows you the door. Woops!

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3. How long is lunch? I usually take two hours.

Lunch may be the least of your worries at this point. Plan on taking lunch for as long as you’d like after that interview question, because you probably aren’t going to be employed any time soon.

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4. That’s great that you have a 401k plan with company match. I notice it’s only up to 5% of your salary. Is there any way you could match it up to 10%, I’m a little behind on saving for retirement?? You understand, right?

I know, it shows that you’re interested in saving for the future, but your employer may see it as you being greedy for more.

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5. I just have one minor infraction on my record. Is there any way we can work around that ‘breaking and entering’ felony??

You can probably just head to the exit at that point. Unless of course, the company is in fact hiring ‘breaking and entering’ felons during this round of interviews.

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6. I’m throwing in a bonus question: You look at the interviewer who is a 25 year old hiring manager. Are you even old enough to work in your position??

Ah, age discrimination at its finest. And that one goes both ways – against young and old alike. You may not think the person is old enough for that position, but he or she is old enough to scratch your name off the list of people being hired!

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What silly questions have you heard while interviewing?

If you can admit it, what silly questions have you asked in an interview?

Comments

  1. hilarious! I dont think i have asked silly questions as much as I made a silly statement. I was interviewing with a Dept of Justice agency and alluded to their hqs as Dept of Homeland Security. Somehow, i still got the job. Embarrassing!

  2. LOL, good one!

    Though nowhere near as funny as yours, I was actually asked “can I use a dictionary” on a language assessment/screening/test. But that saved me a lot of time actually, because I quickly marked off “lacks language skills” and “lacks logic” in one swoop.

  3. My ex used to tell the interviewer “My children come first.” Rarely got hired for anything. I used to coach beginning teachers and told them to always have an answer for this :
    “Why should I hire you over the rest of these applicants ?”

  4. PS Todd, your twitter link has a few extra letters, not working :)

  5. I don’t recall if I’ve asked dumb questions, but as a frequent interviewer, I’ve heard some dumb answers. When asked why you want to work for the company, never say, “I just really need a job.” Awesome, can’t wait for that enthusiasm to spread through the organization! I’ve heard the “what does the company do” question a lot. And once, when I worked at a place that paid monthly, I was asked if we could change that to bi-weekly so it would match the frequency of her mortgage payment. Oy.

  6. Err, I meant MJ (not Todd). And I was referring to the small “t” twitter icon, I have confirmed that your other twitter follow me link works :)

  7. I actually had an employer ask me to question a potential interviewee regarding their reproductive plans……this employer was AN ATTORNEY.

  8. MJ, please tell me your 6 questions are part of some of the questions we read about as jokes. Did you actually know of people who heard those questions from a real, live, thinking person? I’ll answer my own question. A ‘thinking’ person would never ask any of those.

    But to answer your questions – no, I’ve never been asked any silly questions and I don’t think I’ve ever asked any questions that blew my chances. A dull life indeed. ;-)

    Kate

    • Some of these are actual questions. And I’ve had a lot more crazy questions asked over my years of interviews. Including “I’m on probation, and don’t have a car, will that be a problem?” Yep, actual question.

      Your life isn’t dull, based on your blog!

  9. Ooooooh…now I see what I did wrong. I thought it had to do with asking for the first week off if I were hired.

  10. LOL do you follow Pete Howorth! He has got quite a few stories to tell when it comes to interviews! hahaa

    This was good! Thanks!

  11. I recently went through the rounds of interviews as a prospective employee. I didn’t get asked any strange questions and I did well avoiding the above when asked if I had any questions.

    Though I did toss in one strange question at the interviewer. I asked him “Are you Happy?” Of course he assumed I was asking if he was happy at the company, but I was more interested in how he answered the question. He immediately responded in a positive manner. I sure as hell didn’t want to work at a company where the hiring manager was unhappy, so I accepted the job offer when it came.

    A few weeks later, I saw the hiring manager and he complimented me on my question. Said he had never heard that one before, but it made a great impression on him.

    • Very good question to ask the interviewer, my friend. I like that. May have to do that.

      Congrats on the job!

      BTW, I’m getting a few clicks coming over from your site every couple of days, so thanks for that.

  12. Kricket says:

    Great advice on what not to ask or say. If I ever go for an interview I will be sure to refer back to this blog entry and give you honorable mention when I ask “How’d I do?” at the end of the interview.

  13. Judy Berman says:

    I’ve heard interviewers talk about others who have applied for the same job I was applying for. Appalling. (Even more so, when you consider the interviewer knew the person they were talking about.)

  14. sunshine says:

    Good thing you put this all together MJ…especially like #4! Haha, I would say the best way to get around job interviews is be self employed if all possible! ;)
    Love your post!

  15. I once spent an interview deflecting questions about my bike route. The interviewers were more concerned about the streets I would ride my bike on to get there than they were about my skill set or goals. What the eff?

  16. I once went for a big job interview where there were SEVEN people on the panel of interviewers. I was so incredibly nervous, my hands were shaking and everything. The main guy in charge was the Managing Director and he politely asked if he can call me ‘Nisha’ or if I prefer ‘Ms. Moodley’.
    I replied: ‘You can call me whatever you like.’ with the biggest nervous smile on my face LOL. I still facepalm myself when I think about that!

    • That’s a great answer, Nisha. I love it. We’ve all been on the interviewing end, so we should remember having said those kinds of things ourselves as interviewees. Right?

  17. Hilarious!

  18. LOL. I once interviewed with an Asia bank where the manager asked, “Are you married?” The HR person jumped in, “You can’t ask that.” So he followed it up with, “Do you plan to have kids?”

  19. ha! 2 hr lunch break. More like 2 hr finish-up-the-last-100-pages-of-your-book break. That questions is for noobs, anyway. Everyone knows that the only acceptable 2 hr break are bathroom breaks! =)
    Great post. This is my first time at your site and I’m definitely coming back!

    • Thanks Ellie. Look forward to more comments from you. Love your sense of humor.

      Your comment reminds me of a time when I was looking for one of my employees in a factory. When I finally caught up with her – after 4, yes four, hours – I asked her why she wasn’t at her workstation. She just looked straight at me and said, “I was constipated, if that’s any of your business!”

      Hmm, why yes, my friend it is my business, though I think I could have done without the explanation.

      :)

  20. During one of my very first interviews, I did something similar to #1. I knew what the firm did but the interviewer asked me a more specific question regarding an aspect of the firm’s work and instead of trying to skirt around the fact that I wasn’t familiar with that aspect, I said something mortifying like: I am not familiar with that. Ugh…and I was too nervous to try and back-track and I spent the rest of the interview trying to figure out a way to “fix” what I had said which totally caused me to lose focus. Needless to say, I did not get the job. Still makes me cringe each time I think about it!

    • So sorry, I thought I responded.

      I’ve definitely had those moments during interviews. I’ll never forget one interview where there was a panel of twelve people around a table asking me questions. I did get the job, but it was like an hour and a half straight with no breaks. Very interesting and I know I struggled at different times.

  21. At an interview where the office manager was doing the interviewing, she asked me if I liked to bake and would I be willing to bake cookies and desserts every week? This was the FIRST question she asked. My reply? “Are you kidding me? Are you serious? Yes, I like to bake and I’m good at it, but I’m not anyone’s baking slave and I only bake when I’m in the mood”. From then on the interview went downhill fast. I didn’t want the job and I was definitely not what they were looking for. A year later I told the owner of the company why I wasn’t interested in working with his group. He had no idea that his office manager conducted such an interview. He admitted his office staff was all about eating sweets!

    • Wow, that’s a new one. And I was just about to ask you if you’d bake me some cookies and send them to California every week. I guess I better not ask, huh?

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