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Phone interviews typically wrap up with the interviewer asking if you have any questions for them.

When given this opportunity, you should be able to ask a handful of smart questions that indicate you’ve been listening and have done your due diligence with regards to researching the business and the job you’re seeking. However, there are some questions you must avoid. The next time you have a phone interview, be sure you don’t ask these seven questions.

What are the pay and benefits?

Talking about pay and benefits should not happen up until a job offer has been tendered. The same principle should apply to sick and vacation time off.

These kinds of questions make you sound overly confident, or appear as though you’re solely focused on how the company can compensate you for your work; both of which are red flags to an employer.

“Why” questions

Questions like “Why did you acquire that company last year?” or “Why are you hiring for this position?” make your interviewer defend company decisions and can be a bit aggressive for this stage of the process.

In part, the phone interview is about building a rapport for a potential face-to-face meeting. Getting too inquisitive can undermine the rapport you need to build here.

Do you offer a flexible schedule/ remote work?

Many job seekers are looking to maintain a healthy work-life balance through flexible schedules and remote work arrangements, so this is a legitimate issue to bring up. However, the person making the hiring decision probably isn’t thinking much about employment arrangements at this point, so asking about them could make you seem like an undesirable, “what’s-in-it-for-me” candidate.

What is your biggest competition?

This question could easily be answered by a little bit of research on your part, so asking it indicates you haven’t done your homework.

How often do you hold employee reviews?

There are two problems with asking this question. First, it could make you look concerned about getting negative feedback. If a hiring manager thinks you can’t take criticism, you’re definitely not getting the job.

Second, it might make you look like you want regular reviews so you can get raises or a promotion as quickly as possible. If your interviewer thinks you will bring a sense of entitlement to the position, they will probably downgrade you as a candidate.

Will you be reviewing my social media profiles?

Obviously, this is a legitimate concern, especially for people who enjoy being outspoken on social media. However, asking a phone interviewer if they’ll be reviewing your activity makes it sound like you have something to hide.

Do you want to see my references?

Even if you have two or three very impressive professional references to pass along, you should avoid putting all your cards on the table at once. If you’re in contention for the job, there will be plenty of time for a hiring manager to review your references.

Need Help With Your Next Phone Interview?

At Cornerstone, we help job seekers through every stage of the hiring process. If you are currently looking to take the next step on your career path, please contact us today.


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