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Questions to never ask at the end of a job interview

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Questions to never ask at the end of a job interview

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That final question could leave a poor impression (Picture: Getty Images)

You’ve nailed your job interview, pulling out relevant examples of your experience and selling yourself as the perfect employee.

But things still could go downhill.

Alongside a first impression, the lasting impression you leave your interviewers with can make or break your chances – and in many scenarios, this is when the floor is opened for the candidate to ask questions of their own.

You may think it wise to Google what to ask in an interview, but boilerplate queries can show disinterest.

Additionally, coming across as too assertive or blunt can signal you’re not the right fit for the company; just cast your mind back to the many former contestants on The Apprentice whose arrogance got them fired before the final for proof of that.

Here, Careers and Education Expert, Robbie Bryant from Open Study College, reveals the top questions to steer clear of at the end of an interview, as well as some more unique phrases to wow with instead. 

‘What are you looking for in a candidate?/How can I impress you?’

‘This can typically be found in the job listing or on the company website and asking the question has become extremely common,’ says Robbie.

Interviewers will likely have spoken to multiple candidates, so they’ve heard the familiar go-to questions time and time again.

To stand out from the crowd, Robbie advises: ‘Pull something specific from the list of responsibilities and centre a question around this. For example, “One of the responsibilities listed was building relationships with key stakeholders, would you say that this was the most important aspect of the role and something I should be particularly focused on?”‘

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The answer will ultimately be the same, but your phrasings shows you’re serious about the role.

Avoid boilerplate questions interviewers have heard before (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

‘Can I work from home?’

Although the corporate world has changed dramatically since the pandemic, asking this question could limit your chances of success by suggesting you’re unhappy with office work.

If flexible, home or hybrid working haven’t been explicitly stated by the company and are a must for you, the job simply may not be the right fit. There are ways you can feel out the topic without explicitly bringing it up, though.

‘It’s all about the way a question is phrased!’ says Robbie. ‘Instead, ask more generally about the weekly schedule, work socials and office life.’

‘What can your company offer me?’

This is a no-no due to the tone of the question, which implies you’re either a demanding person to work with or haven’t researched the role.

‘Of course as a potential employee you will be curious about any employee benefits,’ explains Robbie.

‘But to uncover this information, if it’s not available online, I would say “Which company policies are you most proud of?”.

‘This will give you a good sense of the type of benefits on offer while still seeming genuinely interested.’

Plus, it gives the interviewers the chance to show off a little – and who doesn’t love to emphasise their positives?

‘Is the salary negotiable?’

Salary questions are often necessary, but hold your horses on asking them at interview.

Robbie explains: ‘I would recommend completing the interview first, then sending a follow-up email to thank the interview for their time and asking what the next steps are.

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‘There can often be several interviews before an offer and if you are a desirable candidate it’s best to wait until a later stage, when the company has really bought into you, to start negotiations. Timing is key.’

‘Why should I work for you?’

‘You want to find a great match as an interviewee, but remember that ultimately you are being interviewed, not the other way around,’ says Robbie.

If you’ve applied for the position, you presumably want to work there, so it can make things awkward if you’re essentially looking for the job to be pitched back to you.

Instead, perhaps consider asking ‘What do your employees love most about working here?’ or be more specific and ask about factors that drew you to the role like company culture.



Robbie’s ultimate tip for interview questions

‘Don’t over-prepare a set list of questions that you think will impress the interviewer,’ he says.

‘The best tactic is to really listen and be engaging during the interview, then ask follow up questions based on the conversation.’

‘What time will I finish every day?’

Your goal in an interview is to come across as an enthusiastic and committed team player, something that’s particularly important in the early stages.

But as Robbie says, ‘wanting to know what time you will be home everyday shows a lack of interest.’

If you want to know about the work life balance, subtlety is vital so you don’t look like a clock-watcher.

Robbie recommends a similar tactic to the above, asking what the company’s employees would say is the best part of working there.

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‘The answers will help to paint a good picture of the work environment,’ he adds.

Phrases like ‘work hard, play hard’, ‘fast-paced environment’, ‘we’re like a family’, or ‘must handle stress well’ could be red flags if you’re worried about burnout, but it all depends on the context of your industry and what you’re looking for.

Yet even if you end up deciding it’s not the place for you, don’t discount yourself with poorly-worded questions.

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


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