Overwhelming Your Interviewer

Posted by The Editors on December 9, 2011
Overwhelming Your Interviewer
Real Simple magazine recently published an article on 18 common phrases to avoid in conversation. Some are simple slip-ups, others are downright rude.

One section, though, struck me as especially direct and useful. In “What Not to Say During a Job Interview,” the author, Mary Mitchell, president of a corporate-etiquette training firm in Seattle and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Etiquette, discourages interviewees from asking certain questions like “Do you think I’d fit in here?” or “What’s the vacation policy?”

That first question does seem a little personal and too broad—Martin suggests asking, “What do you enjoy about working here?” instead. She adds, “By all means ask questions, but prepare ones that demonstrate your genuine interest in the company.”

In that light, it seemed to me that asking about benefits, perks, and working hours doesn’t really relate to the work you’ll be doing or the setting or context—that is, the company at large—in which you’ll be doing it.

If you’ve really prepared for an interview, you’ve probably over prepared. Consider paring down the arsenal of questions you enter the room with. Save the discussion of vacation and other secondary topics for a later time, or even during the first days of the job when you’re brought on board.  

Keeping your questions focused on the job itself helps keep your conversation professional, of course, but it also shows that you’re conscious of your interviewer’s time. It’s something I try to be mindful of when speaking with sources, too.

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