5 Embarrassing Questions You Should Never Ask In An Interview (+ 2 Bonus Tips)

5 Embarrassing Questions You Should Never Ask in an Interview (+ 2 Bonus Tips)

You just got called for an interview and you’re pumped: you really want the job, and you’re keen to make a fantastic first impression.

If you’ve been in an interview before, you’ll know there is usually an opportunity to ask the interviewer your own questions. However, it pays to remember that not all questions should be asked – especially if you’re just meeting the person for the first time!

Some questions may come across as rude or shallow, and even ruin your chance of landing the role completely.

If you’re prepping for a first interview, here are 5 embarrassing questions you should never ask (plus 2 bonus tips)….

What’s the pay?

There’s a time and a place for every question, and a first interview isn’t it when it comes to questions about money.

The first interview is the “get to know you” phase. And if the first words out of your mouth are about how much you will get paid, what does it say about your priorities?

When salary is important to you, save the question for a little later in the process such as a second interview or before reference checks. Ideally, you don’t want to wait until the last minute either. If you ask for more money when you’ve already received a contract they may agree, but they’ll likely feel blindsided which isn’t a great way to start the relationship.

Do I get free parking?

Free parking can be a great perk, but a first interview is not the time to find out if you can get it.

Any question that revolves around “What’s in it for me?” may cause the interviewer to veer towards a candidate who is more focussed on “What can I bring to the role?” instead.

Save questions about benefits for later, such as if you find out that you’re the preferred candidate and they’re ready to start reference checks.

Can I work part time?

Another “What’s in it for me?” question to avoid in a first interview is whether they will accept part time hours.

You should only ask this question in a first interview if you don’t want the job unless they offer it. Otherwise, aim to demonstrate your worth before you ask for flexibility.

If you decide to ask about flexible working, be tactful in how you phrase it. To say “If I get the job, can I work part time?” sounds presumptuous. Instead you could say, “Would you consider offering the successful candidate part time hours, or a remote working arrangement?”.

Is there someone higher than you I need to meet with?

A sure-fire way to kill momentum in an interview is to ask the interviewer if they are the decision maker. It’s insulting, and can come off as impatient and rude.

If there is someone higher you need to meet with, they will tell you.

How fast can I move up?

Nothing says an employee won’t last long in a role if they focus on how fast they can get out of it.

If the role is beneath you, don’t apply. If you’re happy to get in at that level, be comfortable interviewing at that level.

There is plenty of time to find out about career progression and other opportunities after you have aced the role they’re hiring for.


Questions you can ask

By now you’re probably wondering “Well, what can I ask!?”

Here are 5 questions you should ask in a first interview:

  • What’s the reason for this vacancy?
  • What are your expectations for this role?
  • What do you love about working for this company?
  • What are this company’s values?
  • What is the culture like here?

Each of these questions shows the interviewer that you’re keen to learn about the role and the organisation, to decide if you’re the right fit for it.


Bonus tip # 1

Never bag a previous employer. Don’t rip into management or colleagues, and don’t speak negatively about processes or policies you didn’t agree with in a previous role.

There’s absolutely no reason for it, and it makes you look bad. Employers want positive people, and will look for those traits in an interview. Canberra is also a small town, and it’s possible they know the person or company you’re talking about.

If asked why you want to leave your current role, stick with positive responses such as “I’m seeking a new opportunity” or “The role doesn’t align with my career goals”.

Bonus tip # 2

Last but not least, don’t lie if you get asked a question and you don’t know the answer. For example, “Have you used this software before?” or “Have you seen our company values?”. If you haven’t and you didn’t, don’t lie.

Getting caught in a lie, or even being suspected of lying, during an interview is very embarrassing and can certainly leave a bad impression. We all know the saying fake it till you make it, but keep it within reason. A lie is still a lie. Most employers will value honesty and a candidate being emotionally intelligent enough to admit when they don’t know everything – because no one does!