What are the worst questions to ask in a job interview

job interview

Right up there with going to the dentist and sitting an exam has to be the great tradition of going for a job interview. Particularly now it’s September, and recent graduates will be gearing up for this.

You sit there, being asked probing questions by someone you’ve never met, trying hard to impress them and make them think you’re the perfect person for the job while hoping they haven’t noticed how sweaty your armpits are.

But if you are one of those candidates, who never quite manages to get that elusive job offer, have you ever wondered just what it is you could be doing wrong? Video interview company Shortlister carried out a national survey of 2,600 employers and candidates. The survey found that Brits say they only spend 30 minutes on average researching a company before an interview, And 38.4% of potential employees say they often forget some of the questions they want to ask in an interview. Speaking of which, employers were polled on what are the worst questions for candidates to ask in an interview. Overall, a quarter (28%) of employers said that they would be put off a candidate during an interview if they asked an inappropriate question. The survey uncovered the five worst questions you can ask, according to employers:

  • ‘How many sick days do I get?’ which smacks of wanting to skive off, frankly.
  • ‘Can I work from home?’ may give employers the impression the candidate isn’t totally committed to the job.
  • Will I have to work overtime?’ may come across like an unwillingness to have to do so.
  • What is the salary?’ might seem like the emphasis is just being placed on earnings.
  • ‘What does your company do?’ makes it obvious that the interviewee hasn’t got much of a clue… about anything.

For those of us who do prep properly and ask the right questions, it would be great to firstly be told if we didn’t get the job, which many employers fail to do, and some feedback on how we did. After all, it would help us give a better interview next time. But, it seems that feedback from a company after they’ve interviewed a candidate isn’t necessarily a priority or even a given.

A recent study by Virgin Media showed that unhappy, rejected candidates would actually go as far as to cancel their service with the company. They found that 18% of their rejected candidates were Virgin Media customers. Not only would they cancel their own service, they would go on to communicate their bad experience to others. The result was a potential loss of millions of pounds of revenue.

Shortlister also surveyed job applicants to discover what experiences job seekers have had following an unsuccessful interview, particularly that of receiving feedback as to why they didn’t get the job.

They discovered that Scottish companies take the longest to give feedback to unsuccessful candidates, it takes on average 36 days (well over a month) to hear anything back at all. However, if you’re an employer in the South East, you’re the speediest; they take only 17 days to get back to applicants.

The job seekers were also surveyed by industry, to find out which one is worst at providing feedback. The worst performing was the retail industry, where over half of candidates reported not getting any feedback following an unsuccessful application. The most considerate industry is the legal sector, where only 10% of applicants never received any feedback.

It seems that a delay in getting in touch can adversely affect even successful candidates: Shortlister also found that almost a third (30%) of Brits accepted a job that was only their second choice because their first choice took so long to get back to them! That means a lot of employers are missing out on their perfect candidate. As a heads up to potential employers, 71.6% of candidates feel that a seven-day timeframe is a reasonable one to wait to hear back from them. Any longer than that is just rude, presumably!

Then, once the candidate is offered a new job, 60.3% of Brits say they will have made their decision on whether to accept it within just seven days, too.

Unfortunately, 39.7% of applicants have just been ignored when they’ve asked for feedback from an interview, which is a shame, as feedback can help steer a candidate in the right direction for next time.

David Dewey from Shortlister: “Post-interview feedback is so important, It can be the difference between a candidate getting the next job, or not. It is also beneficial for the employer – leaving the candidate with a positive attitude towards the company.”