Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.
An interview should be a two-way street that lets you and the hiring manager get a feel for whether or not this position would be a great fit.
At the end of the interview, the hiring manager will generally ask if you have any questions. One of the reasons they do this is to get a feel for how much research you’ve completed to ensure the position is a good fit.
The key here is to ask questions that show that you’re genuinely considering how the job aligns with your values and career goals. It’s best to avoid asking questions that make you appear self-focused or ill-prepared.
To help you prepare, we’ve rounded up some of the best questions to leave out of your interview preparation.
1. How much will I get paid?
Most hiring managers and recruiters are looking for candidates whose values align with the company. Those candidates value the company culture and are eager for a long-term commitment.
While it’s natural to want to know about compensation, asking about pay during the interview will generally leave the hiring manager with a poor impression of your commitment level.
So, how do you discuss pay? Hopefully, before you even applied, you researched the pay scale for the position you’re pursuing.
You can also find information about the specific company through sites such as Payscale or Glassdoor. However, detailed salary negotiations should be approached further in the hiring process after you’re offered the job.
2. How soon after being hired would vacation time be available?
You never want to give the impression that your entire reason for pursuing the job is to be away from the job. Questions during the interview should focus on learning more about the intricacies of the role, such as, “What do you think is an essential skill to be successful in this role?”
But what do you do if you have a vacation planned already?
Be strategic with your timing and raise the topic later in the hiring process — perhaps during the second interview, if it feels appropriate to discuss it. You can also table that topic until the final offer.
3. How quickly does this role lead to advancement?
You want the manager to know you’re committed to the company for the long haul. But you want to avoid giving the impression that you’re only pursuing this role to get your foot in the door.
Even though you likely have career advancement goals, you need to show that you’re focused on the position you’re applying for.
4. What do you enjoy most about the company?
This is a well-intentioned question that shows you’re trying to get to know the interviewer. However, it also needs more creativity and research.
A better question would include a reference to the hiring manager’s background or a specific aspect of the company culture you find appealing.
For example, you might mention that you saw a social media post with the manager participating in community outreach. Or, maybe their LinkedIn profile shows that he or she has worked for the company for several years.
You can follow that up with a question about how often those outreach opportunities are available or the manager’s favorite aspect of their role.
5. What are the duties of the role?
The manager is interviewing you with the expectation that you’re there because you’re eager to perform the duties of the role. Understanding the role’s duties should happen before the interview begins.
Instead, ask questions that hone in on soft skills or specific aspects of the role.
For example, you might ask, “What do you think are the most important ways this position contributes to the company mission?”
6. Can I work remotely?
Although many companies offer some work flexibility, if the job description doesn’t explicitly state you could work from your home office, it’s unlikely that the role is designed to be remote.
What happens when the company is remote-friendly but it’s unclear if the job itself is?
If there’s a recruiter, reach out to them for verification. Try to peruse other job postings the company might have posted.
If neither offers a definitive answer, you’ll need to decide if you’re willing to take the role if it’s not currently set up to support remote work.
You can either broach the subject during the final offer or wait until you’ve been employed for a few months to propose a hybrid or remote work option to your manager.
7. What do you dislike about working here?
When you’re asking probing questions, you’ll want to avoid asking questions with a negative connotation. Sure, it’s natural to want to weigh the pros and cons, but your question will be received better if you reframe it as a positive.
Consider questions such as, “What goals are the team focusing on this year?” or “What is a recent accomplishment you feel the team should be most proud of?”
You’ll get a sense of what challenges the team has overcome while asking the question with a positive tone and intent.
8. Who are your competitors?
To an interviewer, this question really means, “I haven’t done my research very well.”
Instead, ask questions highlighting a deeper understanding of the company, its product or services, and its business model. Consider inquiring about a new product launch and how they manage direct competition or marketing for that product.
Ask relevant, well-researched questions to make a good impression
Interviews are high-anxiety situations, so it could be easy to ask a question you might regret if you’re not well-prepared. To avoid slipping up, ensure that you devote time to researching and practicing for your upcoming interview.
Avoiding questions such as these when it’s your turn helps to ensure that you’ll stand out from the competition.