3 Interview Questions You'll Be Tempted to Ask (But Absolutely Should Not)

When I was a recruiter, I was asked a lot of smart questions that made me say, “Wow, this candidate is on top of her game.” But I also heard a lot that made me wonder who the person had taken interview advice from—or if that person had ever sought out help at all.

The truth is that while hiring managers expect you to come with questions, there are plenty of topics you shouldn’t ever bring up. For starters, here are a few that might sound exciting to you, but won’t endear you to the interviewer.

1. “How Often Does the Team Hang Out After Hours?”

It’s only natural to want to work with people you’d have a drink with after work. Because as you know, the reality is that you spend more time with your co-workers than you do with most other people in your life. But asking a recruiter to talk about what goes on after-hours makes it sound like you care a lot about the happy hour scene. And again, you should care about the culture, but phrasing it like this doesn’t do you any favors—even if it’s at a company known for having a good time.

What to Ask Instead

Rather than asking to hear about how hard the team parties, try something like this: “I’d love to hear more about how the team works together here, how would you define the company culture?” This answer will often lead to discussion about fun traditions or weekly happy hours, but it makes you sound far more concerned about finding the right fit than the original phrasing.

2. “Do I Have the Job?”

OK, you might not be as blunt as the wording here, but back in my recruiting days, you’d be amazed at the lengths people would go to get me to say, “You’re amazing!” But here’s the thing: Even when you think you’ve forged a bond with your interviewer, it’s important not to start digging for compliments or reassurances that you’re going to keep moving through the process.

What to Ask Instead

Again, digging for compliments is a good way to turn a recruiter off. Instead, ask this:
“In an ideal world, what should the person in this role do to make his or her manager’s life easier?” By asking this, you’re not getting the answer to your question—sorry!—but instead you’re keeping the focus on what you can do for the company. And at the interview stage, it’s key to make it all about how you’ll be an asset. (The negotiation stage is when you get to start making it about you!)