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Interviews: 10 questions that won't get you the job

AS an executive recruiter with twenty-two years of experience, interviewing freshers to determine if they are suitable for my client's organisation is literally a part of my daily routine.

Typically, a prospective employer will ask if you have any queries. Here's a rundown of those that usually don't go down too well with the client, often due to which candidates are not selected

interview questions

1. "Can you tell me something about your company?"
The employer is instantly put off! An aspiring candidate is supposed to visit the company website and understand its business model, products, services, history etc. Please read the section 'About Us' where companies provide their history, products, the geographies they serve etc. Also visit the 'Press' section of the company, where you have information about latest product releases, what customers say about their products and any awards they have won, recently.

2. "Will you do a reference check?"
Most companies use the services of a third party agency to conduct a 'reference check'. The moment you pop this question, a red flag is hoisted, as the interviewer may think you have something to hide.

3. What is your leave policy?
Don't ask this question. It looks like you like to relax. While most companies talk of work-life balance, few practise them.

4. Do you work on Saturdays?
Avoid this question, as the employer gets a suspicion about your intentions to work hard.

5. When will I get my next increment?
This question makes you appear ‘greedy’. Avoid it at this stage of the interview process. The employer thinks that you are looking at money all the time and hence will change jobs if offered a marginally higher salary.

Avoid these subjects

Caste, religion and politics.
You never know the sensitivity of the person interviewing you. Hence, you should not raise this in any interview.

Hiring and firing policy of the company.
The employer may get the impression that you are not sure of yourself, and hence this query about the firing policy.

6. "Do you have any other jobs available in your company?"
You may be offered a job, which you think is below your aspirations. If you feel that the job is below your ability then say so directly at the interview.

You could say, "I did this job three years ago. Last two years I have been leading a team. May I know the career progression for this position?"

7. "How soon can I transfer to another role?"
You may have been offered a sales role and you may be interested in a marketing/brand management role. Asking this question has no meaning as you are literally saying to the employer "I don’t like this job". Remember, most employers will keep you for a reasonable time in the offered role and depending upon your performance transfer you to a different role.

8. "Can you tell me about the best way (bus or train) to reach the office from my residence?"
Don't ask this question! You can easily find out the answer talking to people in the neighbourhood and at the bus or train station.

9. "Are there opportunities for promotion?"
Please don't raise this question during the interview. Once you join the company and prove yourself, then you can raise this issue with your boss. In today's job market, your priority should be to first get the job. It's better to look for promotion after that.

10. "When do I start?"
Since you are not sure that you have been offered, don’t ask this question. The employer gets the feeling that you are overconfident and brash, and may not suit them. A better way for job seekers to show their interest is to be direct. They should tell the interviewer they are very interested in being considered further for the position and offer to provide whatever additional information the company might need. 


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Kris Lakshmikanth is the Founder CEO and Managing Director of Headhunters India Pvt Ltd, and an alumni of IIMC.