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Questions To Avoid At The End Of A Job Interview

Amy Fontinelle

Have you ever thought you aced an interview only to never hear back from the company? It may have been something you said. Here are some questions career experts say you should avoid asking when you're trying to get hired.

"What Exactly Does Your Company Do?"
Inexperienced job seekers tend to ask this question, but they should learn everything they can about the company before the interview. "If a candidate has thoroughly researched the company before a meeting, the questions should focus not on the company, but on the specific position," says career management coach Marti Benjamin.

"As a career coach, I advise interviewees to focus their end-of-interview questions on the hiring manager's priorities for the position, the greatest challenges expected in the position and what it would take to be viewed as a superstar in the position," she says. These questions show the interviewee's interest in being a good fit for the job.

Elle Kaplan, CEO and founding partner of New York-based investment firm Lexion Capital Management, also says interviewees should always be familiar with the company. "I can tell who has read the articles about my company and who has not. It is not something you can fudge and it weighs heavily when considering new hires," she says.

"What Happened to the Last Person?"
Some career experts recommend asking this question as a way to learn more about whether you're likely to run out of the building screaming after you've been working there for a month, but just as many experts say you should steer clear of it.

"This could bring up negative feelings that can get linked to you," says Ronald Kaufman, executive coach and author of the book "Anatomy of Success."

"What if the last person got promoted over the interviewer? What if the last person was fired and there's bad blood between them or possibly a lawsuit?"

Similarly, Kaufman recommends that interviewees avoid asking how the interviewer got his or her position with the company. This question is too personal and could put the interviewer on the defensive, he says.

"When Can We Start a Salary Negotiation?"
Candidates should focus on the opportunity, not the money, during the interview process. "Bringing up the money issue could indicate to the hiring manager that this person is only interested in dollars rather than helping this business be the best it can be," says Murshed Chowdhury, CEO of specialized staffing firm Infusive Solutions in New York. Chowdhury also says if the hiring manager thinks you're focused mostly on the money, he or she might be concerned that you'll jump at the next opportunity that comes along and leave the company with another costly and time-consuming recruiting effort.

"If you get a post-interview offer you will find out exactly how much you are getting paid, so avoid putting the cart before the horse and start out by first getting an offer," says Zachary Rose, CEO and founder of Green Education Services, a green jobs training firm in New York City.

Did I Get the Job?
Finally, don't ask overly eager questions. "If the employer wants to hire you, he or she will contact you," says Amit De, CEO and co-founder of CareerLeaf, a platform that helps job seekers search for jobs. "These questions come off as pushy and impatient, which are two qualities most employers are not looking for."

The Bottom Line

The questions you ask during an interview represent more than just a chance for you to gather information about the company and the position. They're also an opportunity for the interviewer to judge whether you're the right fit for the job. Ask the wrong things and you could ruin an otherwise great interview.

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