“Do you have any questions?”

It’s the moment every potential employee dreads in the job interview. Ask too many and you seem desperate. Ask too few and it’s back to the unemployment line. Equally bad, however, is asking the wrong questions—like these five:

1. Don’t ask: “What are the hours?”
 Employees work long before (and after) they sit in their cubes, according to a study done by Mozy, a provider of data protection and availability. The average guy checks his email at 7:42 a.m. and doesn’t fully stop working until 7:19 p.m., says the study. So by asking about the hours, you’re showing the hiring manager that you only plan on working when you’re behind a desk, which is no longer the norm in today’s constantly connected work world.

Ask this: “What kind of career development programs does your company offer?”
 “It demonstrates that you’re interested in improving your skills and knowledge base,” says Dave Oberstaedt, senior manager of talent management for Nissan. Just because you’re done with school, doesn’t mean you should stop learning. Asking about available extracurricular programs shows that you’re open to learning what the company has to teach you, Oberstaedt says.

2. Don’t ask: “Who’s your competition?”
 Your biggest rule-of-thumb: Don’t ask anything that’s Googleable. Instead, treat your interview like a homework assignment and do plenty of research before you shake your first hand, says Eric Kramer, M.Ed., career consultant and author of Active Interviewing. “The number-one complaint interviewers have with job candidates is they don’t know enough about the company,” he says. In the eyes of employers, a lack of research means you’re not really serious about the position.

Ask this: “What’s the typical career path?”
 You should always try to talk from a career standpoint, says Oberstaedt. Companies spend money on employee orientation and training, so they want to know that you’re staying with them for more than 18 months, he says. Let them know you’re in it for the long haul.

3. Don’t ask: “Do I get time off around the holidays?”
 You didn’t even get the job yet and you’re already counting down the days until a break? Bad move. Focus on showing that you want to contribute to the company as much as you can—not spend time away from it, says Kramer.

Ask this: “Why did you decide to work for this company?”
 The question proves you’re looking for more insight into whether or not the job is right for you. Before extending an offer, employers want to know that you’re confident you’ll mesh with the company both professionally and personally, says Oberstaedt.

4. Don’t ask: “Can I borrow a pen?”
 Three words: Come prepared, man.

Ask this: “Would it be okay if I take notes?”
Bring your résumé, paper, pen, and a business card, advises Kramer. Consider each part an important addition to your interview arsenal. Take plenty of notes so when you write your follow-up letter, you’ll have more than enough info to include, he says. Plus: Before the interview, write down things that you want to remember during the meeting. “In all situations where people become fearful, their thinking collapses,” says Kramer. Know exactly what you want to ask, and jot down any nervous habits that you have: “don’t fidget,” “slow down,” or “eye contact.”

5. Don’t Ask: Nothing!
 A quiet candidate is a boring candidate.

Ask this: Anything but the four questions above
 Don’t wait till the end to ask your questions, says Ford Myers, author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring. In fact, aim for a 50/50 split: Match each question you receive with one of your own. “This is supposed to be a dialogue, not an interrogation,” says Myers.

via news.menshealth.com
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