Last week, my guest blogger Kevin Hassard provided information based on an excellent article about what not to do or say in an interview. Interviewing skills are crucially important, so today I am going to tell you about another good article, this time from Catherine Conlan, a contributing writer for Monster.com. Her article lists several specific questions to avoid in the interview:
• “When will I be promoted?” It’s fine to present yourself as someone who would hope to have a long career within a particular organization, but you don’t want to come off as too eager for the next step when you haven’t even started yet. Instead of asking “when,” you can ask what opportunities there might be in the future and what you would need to do to be considered for a promotion.
• “What’s the salary for this position?” My book’s Tip 46: Know when to ask about salary and benefits explains that it is inappropriate to raise the question of salary at your first interview. Ms. Conlan says it’s okay to ask about them if you’re called back for another interview, but my advice is to wait until you are actually offered the job.
• “When can I expect a raise?” This is really similar to the previous question. Any discussion about compensation is inappropriate in an initial interview unless the topic is brought up by the interviewer. Also, in the current economy, raises are no longer an annual event that competent (or even outstanding) workers can expect (or demand) as a right. Many people (myself included) haven’t had a raise in years.
• “What sort of flextime options do you have?” Asking about flextime in an initial interview is going to raise a red flag: the interviewer is going to wonder what it is that would interfere with your ability to show up and do the job. Many organizations will have information about flextime on their websites, so you can try to find out ahead of time if it’s important for you to have a flexible schedule. If you can’t find it, I would advise you to wait to ask about flextime until you’ve been offered the job.
• “Any question that shows you haven’t been listening.” Now this is a bit tricky, because if you haven’t been listening, you may not know that your question has already been addressed. So what this tells me is that you need to be sure to listen carefully. Multitasking is an unavoidable part of the modern world, but during an interview you should be laser-focused on what is going on in that room, at that moment, to the exclusion of everything else. Keep in mind that it is fine to take notes during an interview, and if that helps you stay in the conversation, by all means take notes. But just jot down notes, not whole sentences. You don’t want to make the interviewer uncomfortable or self conscious by making it seem that you are transcribing the whole interview.
Remember that the goal of the interview is to find out if you are a good fit for this job—from the interviewer’s perspective and from your perspective. Use the interview as an opportunity to learn as much as you can about the job, but within the guidelines for what is appropriate during a first interview.