Questions you shouldn't ask in a first interview

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Audra Dixon, Executive Recruiter with LeaderStat
Audra Dixon, Executive Recruiter with LeaderStat

Job interviews are tricky things. You want to come across as confident without being arrogant, humble without being timid, and capable without being perceived as overqualified. It can feel a bit like a tightrope act, and few have managed the process without at least a bit of post-interview second guessing. However, there are some concrete dos and don'ts. 

Among the ‘dos' is pre-interview research about the interviewing company. You should arrive at your first interview knowledgeable about the organization and the interviewers, prepared to ask questions about the responsibilities of the job and the culture of the organization. On the flip side, there are also questions you shouldn't ask during your first interview. We will highlight a few here.

What is the salary, how much does the job pay, and what are the benefits, etc.? Important topics, all, but not appropriate for a first interview. It's a little like going on a first date and asking how the other party feels about marriage. 

Salary negotiations and other compensation package questions should come after you've been offered the job. In some cases, it might be best to avoid asking these questions altogether by working with a recruiter who will advocate salary and benefits on your behalf. It can be beneficial to both parties to have a middle man act as a buffer in salary negotiations. This ensures you will receive the fairest compensation package possible without causing any ill will due to a contentious negotiation.  

How many hours per week are required/when does the work day end? While you might be innocently asking about their expectations, and perfectly willing to work as many hours as needed, if not more, this question gives the impression that you are angling to work the bare minimum number of hours. Generally speaking, you never want to give this impression – even after you've been in the position for years. Employers want people who are committed to the job, the organization, and the residents, and who are willing to put in extra effort if needed. If you have no context for what's expected in the position, try approaching the topic by asking the interviewer to describe a typical day or week in the position.

Do I get a lunch break? We are fairly certain no matter what your job, you will get a chance to eat. This question will have your interviewer again questioning your commitment, and perhaps wondering if you perceive them as an unreasonable employer. Ask specific questions about the responsibilities of the position, and details like when you can grab lunch will become clear.

Avoid asking anything about the logistics of the position that would bring your work ethic or passion for the job/industry into question. Even senior living industry administrative employees will occasionally be asked to help with residents in a time of need. Expressing an unwillingness to occasionally take on other roles for the organization as needed will be perceived poorly. 

Rather than asking what will be asked of you, focus questions on the position itself, for example, “What are the biggest rewards and challenges of this position?”

Our LeaderStat recruiters routinely advise senior living industry candidates on how to make the best impression possible at a job interview, and are happy to field questions in this area. For a simple guideline - your questions at the first interview should be about the position and the company, and your discussion focused on what you can do for the organization. Questions about what the company can do for you should wait for the next interview, or even better, the job offer.  

Audra Dixon is an Executive Recruiter with LeaderStat specializing in Post-Acute Care, Home Health and Hospice and Senior Living, Executive Level Placement.



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