3 Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make Asking Interview Questions

By Bob Evans
In June 16, 2016

As a job seeker, the only measure you have for success following an interview is usually whether you get the job or not. Most employers and hiring managers do not provide feedback to those they did not end up hiring. Usually the only communication job seekers receive is an automated email thanking them for their interest in the position, but it has been filled.

For former athletes who received consistent feedback on their performances from coaches, this is one of the most difficult things to understand about the job seeking process. How are you supposed to get better if you do not know what you are doing wrong?

That is a common question most job seekers have, and very few can get answered on their own. If you work with one of the project coordinators here at NexGoal for your job search, you will actually receive that feedback—as our team speaks to the hiring manager after your interview to find out the good and bad from your interview.

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Our project coordinator’s communication with hiring managers is actually the inspiration for this week’s “Three for Thursday.” With so many not understanding what they do wrong, our project coordinators were so gracious to provide the content team with some of the mistakes their job candidates make when asking questions on an interview. Since the list was quite extensive, we trimmed it down to our top three.

They forget to ask about the day-to-day office life

You would think this would be one of the first questions a job seeker would ask, but it was one our client’s said was often forgot. Job seekers should ask what the office is like, what the day-to-day responsibilities of the job are, who they will be interacting with on a regular basis and much more.

It shows to a hiring manager that you are interested in more than just how much you will get paid and if there is growth potential. Wanting to know about things like your potential teammates and how the office is shows that you are looking to build relationships at work, and if they are really looking to hire a “team player” who can change their office culture around—you could vault to the top of their hiring list.

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On the job seeker’s side, you absolutely need to ask about the day-to-day office life to see if it is a potential fit for you. If you are an outgoing, high-energy person who needs to get up and move around during your work day, you may find out after you accept a job that the office culture does not fit your personality. Sure, you could always work to change it, but there is only so much you can change about established company policy and work habits.

Many forget to ask about compensation growth

Job seekers typically ask about how much they will make in year one, or know how much they will make from the job posting. However, they forget to ask about the company’s raise and bonus structure in the interview. This leaves them in the dark and often shocked at the beginning of the year when they do not receive a raise of some sort.

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I can actually speak about this from experience at a previous employer. My excitement about landing a job in a field of semi-interest caused me to forget to ask this question in an interview. When I started the job, co-workers told me about Christmas bonuses they received the previous year and a yearly raise that a high percentage level.

When Christmas rolled around, I did not receive a bonus. Then when yearly raise time came up, my initial raise was about eight percent lower than what my co-workers told me. Unrest grew in the office because the old amounts became an expectation of the staff, but if I would have asked, my human resources team would have notified me that the previous year was a record year in terms of sales and achievements, thus the company compensated the staff that way. They would have informed me Christmas bonuses are not the usual, and their yearly raise was actually 1.5 percent of your previous salary.

Not asking and going based off the word of my new co-workers set me up to be let down come bonus and raise time. This was on me, so make sure you ask about raises and bonuses in your interview so you have a clear understanding going into your new job.

How the days off structure works

This was one of the biggest questions many job seekers forget to ask. Many seem scared to ask questions about days off because they think it makes them look like they are not willing to come in and do the work. However, the employers we spoke with would rather both parties have a clear understanding of the procedure and structure for days off coming in.

A good example of this was at a previous place of employment of mine. Our days off were structured in a way much different than other jobs I have held. We had vacation days which were accrued throughout the year, personal days which were a set number per year and could be used at our discretion, sick days which were a set number per year and could be used at our discretion and a number of other variable days off depending on providing documentation to human resources.

Not all companies provide the same type of days off structure as that previous company did. Some lump them all into one, which means you could get burned when planning potential vacations and days off throughout the year. Asking about days off is a must, and will not make you look bad in an interview.

Final Word

Job seekers have a tendency to not want to ask questions they think will make them look like a weak candidate in an interview. However, the interview is just as much a time for the employer to learn about you as it is for you to learn about the employer.

If you were a sales person entering into a contract with a company, would you not want to learn everything about the company you are about to call your client? The answer is yes, so you should take that approach with a company you could be going to work for.

Asking questions in an interview is your opportunity to dig deeper into a company. If you leave an interview wondering if you know enough about the company to work there, you did not do your job.

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Bob is the Digital Content, Marketing Manager for NexGoal and has been writing in the digital world for 10-plus years.