Avoid Asking Bad Interview Questions

Interviews are hard for both interviewers and interviewees, and it can be stressful to come up with good questions and avoid inappropriate ones. If you're an interviewer, it can be difficult to think of ways to test your interviewees without being intrusive, and if you're an interviewee, it can be hard to make the right impression with your questions. If you've ever felt anxious or unsure about how to avoid bad interview questions, don't stress! There are simple and easy ways to avoid asking bad questions, no matter who you are.


Avoiding Bad Questions as an Interviewer

  1. Write a summary of your hiring goals. This will help you narrow down what questions to ask.[1][2]
    • You could bullet point three things you are looking for in an interviewee to get you started.
  2. Plan relevant questions to ask. Write a list of interview questions based on your hiring goals and keep them the same across all your interviews.[3][4]
    • For example, ask all interviewees what they would do in a situation. You could say: “Imagine you need to budget for an IT department. You have salaries, overtime, computers and team-building fun and dinners to consider, so how would you structure a budget?”
  3. Ask the interviewee to explain their CV to you. Asking the interviewee to explain their skills in their own words will show you how well they understand the job requirements you are hiring for. You'll also see how they handle an unstructured conversation with you.[5][6]
    • For example, you could ask, “Why do you think you'd be good at this job?” Or, “I see you've got kite surfing as a hobby here, tell me some more about that.”
  4. Avoid illegal interview questions. Don't ask about an interviewee's marital status, children, criminal record, religious practices, sexual orientation, drinking habits, medical history, first language, national or cultural origins, or personal finances. These questions are illegal and can also make people very uncomfortable.[7]
  5. Avoid biased interview questions. Don't allow your personal views or preferences to interfere with the interview – stay professionally objective and hire the best interviewee for the job.[8][9]
    • As an example, it would be considered biased and in some countries and states illegal not to hire an interviewee because of their gender, rather than because of their qualifications.
  6. Set a realistic interview schedule. Many companies interview tens and sometimes hundreds of people during a recruitment drive, so schedule interviews to give yourself time to take breaks, eat lunch and not get exhausted.[10]
    • Consider scheduling interviews you can get through in a single eight-hour work day. If you get too tired you might forget yourself and ask inappropriate questions.

Avoiding Bad Questions as an Interviewee

  1. Read the job description carefully. Understand what the requirements of the job are and write a list of key skills you need.[11]
    • You could write a list of the five most important skills for the job to help you understand, or search online for similar job descriptions.
  2. Review your CV and write a list of questions. Focus on positive questions that play to your strengths and show your interest in the company's future to leave a good impression with the interviewer.[12]
    • For instance, you could ask, “What's your favourite part of the company culture here?” Or, “What do you think's the most interesting growth area here?” Or, “What's an average day at the office like?”
  3. Avoid asking negative interview questions. Don't ask questions that are focused on you rather than the company. These can come across as disappointing to the interviewer and suggest you're not serious and professional at work.[13]
    • Don't ask questions like: “How early can I leave the office on a Friday?” Or, “How soon before the holidays can I go on vacation?” These can come across as self-centered and even selfish.
  4. Avoid asking questions about your salary. Negotiating a salary happens after a company makes you an offer or after the first interview. Asking about your salary at interview can come across as negative and greedy.[14]
  5. Avoid arguing with your interviewer. Stay calm and professional when asking questions, even if your interviewer is not answering you. Interviewers often have reasons not to answer questions immediately.[15]
    • As an example, some interviewers like to test interviewees by trying to frustrate them and seeing if they stay calm.
    • In some cases if you ask a question that comes across as personal or intrusive the interviewer might just change the subject.
  6. Avoid illegal or personal questions. Don't ask the interviewer about their marital status or family, children, religion, sexual orientation, cultural or national origins, personal finances, drinking or drugs habits, medical history, criminal record or other intrusive personal information. It's illegal to ask these questions in many countries and states and will come across as super inappropriate.[16]
  7. Listen to your interviewer and be ready to improvise. Pay attention so you don't ask questions that have already been answered, and so that you can change your list of scripted questions if they don't work anymore.[17][18]
    • For instance, if your interviewer talks about some really successful growth last year, then you could ask what he or she thinks was behind that.


  • Always make sure to begin thinking of questions some days before an interview. Whether you are an interviewer or interviewee, this will mean you have lots of time to come up with intelligent and relevant questions.

Related Articles


  1. https://www.hr.uic.edu/UserFiles/Servers/Server_2716/File/d_hiring/guide_writing_jobdescriptions.pdf
  2. http://www.furstperson.com/blog/understand-each-jobs-requirements
  3. https://www.themuse.com/advice/51-interview-questions-you-should-be-asking
  4. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140210135852-20017018-conduct-the-perfect-job-interview-in-twelve-simple-steps
  5. https://blog.bufferapp.com/why-talking-about-ourselves-is-as-rewarding-as-sex-the-science-of-conversations
  6. https://www.themuse.com/advice/beyond-the-resume-how-to-choose-the-best-candidates
  7. http://www.businessinsider.com/11-illegal-interview-questions-2013-7?op=1
  8. https://relate.zendesk.com/articles/the-art-of-the-unbiased-interview/
  9. http://www.furstperson.com/blog/understand-each-jobs-requirements
  10. http://hr.sparkhire.com/best-hiring-practices/before-you-start-scheduling-interviews/
  11. [v161448_b01]. 25 June 2020.
  12. [v161448_b01]. 25 June 2020.
  13. http://www.businessinsider.com/the-11-worst-questions-to-ask-during-an-interview-2011-10#what-are-your-policies-surrounding-benefits-and-vacation-time-1
  14. https://theinterviewguys.com/job-interview-salary/
  15. https://www.themuse.com/advice/how-to-stay-cool-and-collected-when-your-interviewer-is-being-a-jerk
  16. http://www.gsworkplace.lbl.gov/DocumentArchive/BrownBagLunches/IllegalorInappropriateInterviewQuestions.pdf
  17. https://www.abrivia.ie/blog/the-importance-of-active-listening-in-interviews/
  18. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/improve-your-job-interview-skills-take-improv-class-sue-barkman