Don’t say or ask dumb questions – if you want the job.
If you want the job, then don’t ask these dumb questions, or have dumb answers! Yes, I’m a little frustrated right now because I just wasted a morning interviewing some idiots that looked decent on paper. So while I still want to smack them, I thought I’d write some helpful tips for fun to capture my sarcastic teaching side!
Yes, I heard it said there are no dumb questions. Let’s refer to that as an example of a dumb statement and move on. Of course there are dumb questions, and dumb statements. That’s why we say “think before you speak”. An older more mature interviewer, like me, has been around the block a bit, and yes we can be cynical. So don’t shoot yourself in the foot right from the get go – unless you want me to tell you with a smile “we’ll be calling you” though I’m thinking you’re an idiot.
So let’s kick this off …
1. Where do I see myself in 5 years?
The silliest things I hear from an interviewee when asked “so where do you see yourself in five years?” is ______________ (, any answer in that blank is dumb and wrong if it doesn’t say the company your are interviewing for). The interviewees this morning went on about elaborate 5 years plans that told me a story that my company will train you and you will move on. Matter of fact you are so dumb you are even telling me up front - hey I will move on soon but for now I just want to hang here for a spell and take up your valuable training efforts and learn how you do things and then I will leave. Companies cost a lot of money to start up and the owner is generally in business for the long run.
2. Do you offer over-time?
When you ask me if we offer overtime? I get the idea that you are not able to work efficiently within a normal day’s allotted hours and will watch the clock. You just got labeled, correctly or not, as a slacker – in my head. I also, get the idea that you are not a team player and will do just the minimum. In a tight economy those individuals are the first to be let go. And in a booming economy, those individuals don’t promote up the ladder well. You’ll do better to ask about the normal company hours.
3. What exactly does your company do?
Believe it or not, yes, this is a common question I hear from unprepared interviewees. A second later and I am already mentally closing your file and thinking about my next interviewee. May “the Google” be with you. Geez, it’s the information age I’m told! Why would you ask me this question that lets me think you didn’t make any effort to research a company you are seeking employment for? You cast yourself as an idiot – please readers, don’t this.
4. How long before I can have your job?
I've heard it said that this question show you have an ambitious person in front of you. No it doesn’t. It shows you have an ill mannered idiot in front of you. There are some questions you ask out loud and there are some questions that you ask in your head only. Be smart and do the work, at a level that shows you are committed and not just a talker and then you gain upward mobility. Talk is cheap! And arrogance doesn’t get forgiven quickly.
5. What is your drug testing policy?
The dumbest question to ask goes to (drum roll please) – any question asking what is your company’s drug policy is? Or does your company have a drug policy? Just go home!
Do you know how much that scares an interviewer? A LOT, in case you didn’t. If you’re on some kind of necessary prescription drug, then let that play out after you win the interviewer over and get the job. Don’t lie on your employment application, but definitely don’t verbalize that question. Of course there will be a mandatory drug test, so talk with your “doctor” about any drugs you think will adversely affect a drug test and then get the doctor’s notes on whether the “prescription” drug will be a liability to your would be employer.
6. Ask me a question that was clearly answered in the job posting and you failed the interview
Really? Yep! Why? Because the person who wrote that job post listing worked hard to make sure it would convey the right information to the right group of people. It obviously worked if you’ve applied and found yourself in an interview. You asking the same question(s) in an interview that was already answered in the job posting makes me feel like you don’t pay attention to details.
7. Ask me any question that I already answered and you may have failed the interview.
This reasoning comes back to the previous paragraph regarding attention to details. Remember your job at the interview is to make me like you in a professional capacity but also as a person. Of course you can ask me to repeat something if there was an interruption in the office like an intercom or a visitor that knocked on my office door. Perhaps an airplane flew overhead or some other outdoor noise muffled our conversation or I was soft spoken or mumbled or you would like me to clarify something I said. But be careful, and have a good reason for asking me to repeat myself that does not show me or you in a bad light. For example, it would not look good on you to say I was mumbling and therefore you couldn’t hear me. Be smart, be courteous.