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Questions to never ask your interviewer — and what you should ask instead

Ramit Sethi

Every time you walk into an interview, there’s an invisible game being played around you.

Do you know what it is?

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You’re sitting across from the hiring manager. They ask “Do you have any questions for me?”

Based on your response — before the interview even ends — hiring managers instantly know which candidates will be wildly successful and get the job, and which ones to nix and instantly disqualify.

(And yes, this includes you, too.)

By knowing the RIGHT questions to ask during your interview, you position yourself as an exceptional candidate. You’re taking the extra step that 99% of other people never do, which is to actually consider how you should interview the hiring manager.

Most people either say “nah, no questions — thank you though…” or they blurt out the first question that pops into their mind (“What is the salary range for this job?”)

I’m going to show you the difference between GOOD and BAD interview questions to ask. We’ll start with the bad questions so you know what to avoid. Then I’ll give you the word-for-word scripts for good questions that will drastically improve your chances of landing the job

BAD QUESTION #1: “What’s the salary for this position?”

This question is a total turn off. Interviewers hate being asked about compensation or benefits up front.

Top performers do their research and know what a position should pay before even walking into the room.

Also this information is only applicable to people that are hired — not someone just interviewing for the job. So there’s no point in talking about salary at this stage. It’s like a guy asking a girl to marry him…on the first date.

Sure, salary is important. But it’s better to spend the time upfront focusing on the tasks you’ll perform, responsibilities you’ll have, and how you can make a strong contribution to the team.

BAD QUESTION #2: “What does your company do?”

If a quick Google search can answer your question better and faster than the interviewer, DO NOT ask it.

It instantly communicates three things: (1) “I don’t care.” (2) “I did zero research.” (3) “I might just do the same if I get hired.”

The interview is won before you walk into the room. If you’re unprepared, you’ll never get the job.

BAD QUESTION #3: Asking NO questions

Counterintuitively, not asking ANY questions can be worse than asking bad questions. If you remain silent and robotically only answer the questions you’re asked, your resume will be tossed into the “Do Not Hire” pile right away.

Interviews are supposed to be a two-way street. If you don’t engage with the interviewer in a meaningful way — by asking them questions — you won’t be memorable when you walk out the door.

As frustrating as this can be, hiring managers are people, too. And people hire people they like and get along with. So if you don’t make a connection, there’s no chance you’ll get a call back.

But there’s more to interviewing than just knowing what to avoid. You also need to know makes a great question so you can stand out.

Great questions to ask (that show you deserve the job)

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Let’s breakdown the actual questions you can use to blow away the competition, get the job, and get paid what you deserve (no questions asked).

First, I’ll give you the word-for-word questions to ask, then we’ll dive into why each question works.

Good question #1

“From my conversations with NAME, I know some of the biggest challenges with this job are X, Y, and Z. What are some of the approaches you’ve used in the past to tackle them and what did you like or not like about them?”

Why this works: It’s obvious this applicant came to play and that they’re very familiar with the position’s demands. Instead of coming in sounding like a total newbie to the role, this question sounds polished, researched, and crisp.

This type of question signals to the interviewer that you’re someone they can bring in, and, on day one, you’ll get to work immediately. Rather than being someone who needs their hand held and to be trained for hours on end.

This makes the decision a no-brainer for the hiring manager, which is exactly what you want. They don’t want to waste resources on a candidates that can MAYBE do the job. They want someone that knows what they’re doing to come in and get things done.

Good question #2

“I read online that you recently won the award for ‘Top X Places to Work.’ What are some of the ways the company continues to set the bar in the industry?”

Why this works: Notice what just happened in that question. If you ask it, you’re pulling out research you’ve done and showing that you’re up-to-speed on recent developments.

Rather than coming across as a random person who’s maybe (kind of) interested in the role, you’re showing that you’re following along with the company’s achievements and are genuinely curious about what’s ahead.

This is vastly different than most people’s approach. Most people barely understand the requirements of a job, much less know what’s going on with the company at large.

Good question #3

“What metrics are most important to you when measuring the success of a candidate?”

Why this works: When you ask this question, the interviewer is basically giving you all the ammunition you need to seal the deal on a job offer.

When they tell you the metrics they’ll be looking for, they’re also telling you EXACTLY what they want in a new hire.

If you want to be a successful applicant, you can then position your skillset as a perfect fit for the role and the success they described.

Great interviewing in action: Watch a live interview Q&A teardown

Knowing how to craft the perfect questions — and what questions to never ask — is a great start to becoming a world-class interviewer.

But actually being able to ask these questions (and answer the interviewer’s questions) live and  under pressure is a whole other ballgame.

Interviewing requires practice, but it also helps to see live interviews in action. That way nothing catches us off guard.

Sign up below to watch as I do a live interview teardown with real interview questions and answers.

I’ll show you what’s working, what needs improvement, and give you hidden insights that you could never catch on your own.

Learn How to Interview Better than 99% of the People in the World in this Free Video and Live Teardown

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