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Killer questions in job interviews: Don't ask!

They do exist - that Killer questions. But these are not nasty tricky questions that HR managers could ask in job interviews. Rather, it is about their own queries that applicants ask - which not only make them look stupid, but possibly destroy all job opportunities immediately. You should therefore never ask the following killer questions ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Killer questions: Please never ask these questions

It is true that the rhetoric says: Who asks leads. That is also true. But unfortunately it is also the case that in every question there is always one Subtext resonates, which sometimes reveals more about the questioner than he would like.

It is said that there are none stupid questions. But they do exist. In fact, some queries make applicants look pretty stupid - and terribly unprepared. This includes, for example, questions that the interviewer can only answer in one way - not at all:

  • Is this work atmosphere Well?
  • Is my future boss kind?
  • I have good ones Promotion opportunities?

No, they do not have! Those who ask such questions are obviously naive or have no idea what to ask.

Unfortunately there are a number of others Killer questions. One of the worst conceivable counter-questions in a job interview, for example, is this (and all related ones):

What exactly does your company do?

  • Why is that a killer question? Anyone who asks for it has simply not done his homework. In the meantime there is hardly a company that does not present itself on the Internet on its own website. There you will also find what it does, which brands and products belong to it, which company philosophy is being followed. Anyone who is seriously interested in a career there should therefore know what the company is doing BEFORE applying. Anything else would be naive and unprepared. An unforgivable applicant mistake.
  • The better alternative: If you are already asking in this direction, then more like this ...

    During my preparation for our interview, I learned that your company does THAT and THAT. But I still have a few specific questions ...

Just as deadly - at least during the first conversation - is this question:

What do you pay employees in this position?

  • Why is that a killer question? Of course, there is nothing wrong with finding out about your future salary. But the question reveals a wrong perspective: you should know beforehand what you are worth and what is usually paid in this industry and in this position. Similarly, don't ask for a handout or what the employer does graciously would be willing to spend for you. Rather, you are negotiating the value of your (potential) performance. And that's better in the second interview or even a job interview (which, however, can also be identical).
  • The better alternative: It is therefore more elegant to let the HR manager focus the conversation on the topic himself, and when he asks what salary you have in mind, state your specific figure. For example like this:

    Based on my training, specialist knowledge and experience, I consider a gross annual salary of 46,780 euros to be appropriate.

But you shouldn't ask questions of this type either:

Can I come a little earlier and go home earlier for that?

  • Why is that a killer question? Of course, being interested in work-life balance is perfectly legitimate, especially if you have family or children. But that is not what the HR manager thinks about when asked. What he actually hears is rather a question from a potential employee who only does a job to earn a living, but not someone who really puts their heart and soul into applying to this company. Here someone who has not even started asks about the time off ... fatal.
  • The better alternative: If you want to ask in this direction, then please only indirectly ...

    Can you describe to me what a typical working day looks like in your company?

    You are showing interest in this question without emphasizing your leisure time or your personal schedule. But the information you get can be just as insightful.

But even seemingly career-oriented questions can be tricky:

How quickly can you advance your career?

  • Why is that a killer question? Every HR manager is happy when employees are committed, have goals and want to achieve something professionally. Better than the other way around. But when asked so directly, the question seems less engaged, but rather pretty pushy. They say in the subtext: I'm not really interested in the job I'm applying for here; for me it is at best a stopover and a means to an end. And that in turn could tell the recruiter that you will either get frustrated after a while or leave just as quickly if things don't go the way you want. And that means you are no longer the perfect candidate for the position.
  • The better alternative: So if you are interested in promotion opportunities, ask in this direction:

    How does your employee development look like? Does your company offer something like a mentoring program or training courses?

    This also signals to the HR manager that you want to develop yourself and your skills, but at the same time are interested in the current job.

Smart questions: these are the ones you should ask instead

Please do not get it wrong: If the interviewers and HR managers offer you the opportunity to ask your own questions, then you should do so too. Always! It is one great opportunity for youto learn more about the employer. And with clever questions you can also collect additional plus points (see video):

So if you do Ask questions, ideally ask in these directions:

  • What is (from your point of view) the greatest challenge in this position?

    First plus: The question signals that you are already dealing with the content of the job and are committed to finding a solution. Second plus: You will find out about possible weak points (read between the lines!) And whether your skills are actually suitable for the position in order to succeed.

  • How will my performance be measured?

    And by whom? The question is, admittedly, a bit tricky. But variable salary components are quite common in many jobs today. They are usually linked to goals - and someone has to judge whether you have achieved them. With this question you not only avoid future frustration - you also expose the potential arbitrary factor at this employer.

  • Why is this vacancy?

    This question is a wolf in sheep's clothing: If the position was newly created, you can immediately add: Why? Is the company, the area growing, was the team no longer able to cope with the work (stress alarm!)? If, on the other hand, it has been vacant for a long time, ask why the suitable candidate has not yet been found. You may not want to be either.

  • What do you love about your work and the company?

    The question reverses roles: Now the HR manager has to tell what he likes about the company. Especially when it comes to the fight for talent, he shouldn't be at a loss for an answer. On the contrary: this is his chance to make a fiery plea for the company. Again, pay attention to the nuances and how real the enthusiasm is.

  • What are the company's most important growth areas?

    And where are the greatest market opportunities compared to the competition? - These questions are particularly useful for medium-sized or rather unknown companies. Because of course you don't want to rely on an already lame horse. No business secrets will be revealed to you at this point, but you are also interested in where you are headed. After all, you should steer in the same direction later on in your job and be convinced of it.

Such questions not only show that you are really interested, but also that you have given intensive thought to your job and perfectly prepared are. Speaking of ...

Free eBook: 100 questions for the job interview

Because it is so important to ask questions during the interview, we have one here List of 100 clever questions for hiring managers compiled. You are welcome to download this free of charge as a PDF, print it out later and take it with you to the appointment as a memo or cheat sheet.

Just please never pull out the slip of paper and read it - that doesn't really look prepared. And please don't ask all of the questions about it. The best thing to do is to pick three to a maximum of ten questions that are right for you and memorize them shortly beforehand. This also helps as a suggestion Hand trick:

[Photo credit: Photographee.eu by Shutterstock.com]

Even more interview tips
➠ Job interview: all the tips

Job interview process
➠ Interview preparation
➠ Application questions + answers
➠ Job interview clothes
➠ Introducing yourself
➠ self-presentation
➠ End the interview

Interview types
➠ Second interview
➠ Assessment Center
➠ Stress interview
➠ Job interview English
➠ Video interview
➠ Telephone interview

Typical questions
➠ These 100 questions can come
➠ 25 trick questions + answers
➠ Stress issues
➠ What are your weaknesses?
➠ What are your strengths?
➠ Why should we hire you?
➠ What was your last salary?
➠ Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
➠ Why did you quit?
➠ Inadmissible questions
➠ Inquiries to HR managers

Tips & Tricks
➠ Practice interview
➠ Interview mistakes
➠ White lies in the job interview
➠ body language tips
➠ Overcome nervousness
➠ Where to put your hands?

➠ Confirm the interview
➠ Postpone the interview
➠ Cancel the interview
➠ Cancel the interview
➠ Follow up after the conversation

★★★★★ Rating: 4.94 / 5 - 7441 ratings.
December 11, 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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