- Anonymous:What would be considered inappropriate to ask an employer during an initial interview?
I think the correct answer is anything I used to ask when I was interviewing for grad school. I had this ridiculous notion that I couldn’t work for a school that didn’t have a sense of humor. So when it became my time in the interview to ask the questions I decided to put the person on the other side of the table through their paces through a cacophony of oddball questions.
I remember asking the VPSA of a Big East school “Which US president would you bring back to life? (knowing they could not serve again, due to Zombie Citizenship laws) Also what super power would you give them?”
No idea where it came from, but it quickly became my staple. I seemed to ask it of everyone, gaining a consensus that the best President to be revived into Zombie form was Abe Lincoln, given the ability to fly, with the caveat that his beard had to serve as a rudder.
Most people humored me, one office responded “So are you going to continue on this line of questioning, or are you done wasting our time?” She was right though. I was wasting their time. Because I believed that this one question would give me the answers I needed, but it was too much too fast.
Interviewing gets compared to dating all the time, and it’s really apt. Think of an initial interview as a first date, avoid the questions you wouldn’t use when out with some one you like for the first time. For example, money, you will learn eventually how much the job pays, you won’t need to ask for it within the first few minutes.
Don’t ask questions that prove you are a creeper. “Did you know you and my supervisor’s supervisor went to the same conference last year, where you sat near each other? He told me you smelled nice”
Avoid going to the negative or insulting someone with a question, remember it’s your first encounter with them. Your questions are the last thing they will remember of you. You leaving asking “What do you not like about your job/department/institution” may not be the best one for a first round.
Your main job during the question portion of an interview is take time to get know them and don’t unravel all the positive work you have done in the last 45 minutes by spooking them.