Don't Ask

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If you're planning to go on job interviews, you've probably been brushing up on your interview skills. Most people prepare by practicing their answers to likely questions, but the outcome may depend on the questions they themselves ask the job interviewer.

Questions about the company or the job responsibilities are fine ― but experts say there are some questions you shouldn't ask during your initial job interview. Here are 10 questions not to ask.

"Is there public transportation nearby?"

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While asking about public transportation to and from the office might seem innocuous, career management and executive coach Bettina Seidman said it can turn off an employer. "Find it yourself," Seidman said. "If you have to ask about trains and buses nearby, how will you work on complicated projects?"

"Can I work from home?"

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Working from home may be possible for some jobs at some point, but Bruce Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, said it will happen only after trust has been established.

"Raising it during the interview process raises concerns that maybe the candidate has some home-related issues that they are hiding," Hurwitz said. "Of course, it could simply be because of the commute, but the time to ask the question is after the employer knows they can trust your work ethic."

"Is there a probationary period?"

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Jeff Kear, owner of Planning Pod, said asking about a potential probation period for new employees can raise all sorts of red flags.

"It sounds like you've been fired in the past or somehow expect to perform poorly at some point," Kear said. "Even if you have been fired or let go ― and many of us have ― don't tip your hand by asking how any poor performance on your part would be handled."

Instead, Kear suggests phrasing the question in a way that touches on the performance-evaluation process.

"What does the company do?"

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Asking to hear about the company and what it does is a huge no-no, according to Josh Tolan, CEO of Spark Hire, because the candidate should have come prepared, having thoroughly researched the business.

"You should be able to ask questions about specific company programs or how they plan to address industry trends," Tolan said. "Don’t ask a question which makes it obvious you’ve done zero research on the place you'd like to work."

"Is there on-site child care?"

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Roxanne Hewertson, principal of the Highland Consulting Group, said asking if a company has on-site child care advertises the candidate's family status, which can come back to bite the interviewee. "Since they can't legally ask about your family, you could leave them with the impression that your children's child care is not just a consideration but a problem," Hewertson said. "Once you have the job offer, you can ― and should ― feel free to ask about child care options, but not before."

"Will you check my Facebook page?"

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Illinois and Maryland prohibit employers from asking for Facebook passwords, but not all states offer such protection. Rachel Dotson, content manager at ZipRecruiter, said you do not want to bring it up yourself.

"Merely asking the question plants the seed in the hiring manager's mind," Dotson said. "Soon enough, she may find herself wondering what you have to hide."

It's very similar to asking if the employer requires drug tests, according to Dotson. "The fact that you're even asking says you're guilty."

"Do you pay for overtime?"

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Employers want people who are committed to the company and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done without expecting to be paid extra, so asking about overtime isn't a good question during a job interview, according to Sanjay Sathe, co-founder and CEO of RiseSmart.

"By asking if you get paid extra for working more, you're showing your potential employer that you plan on doing the bare minimum," Sathe said. "This question shows a lack of drive, which is a huge red flag for employers."

"How often do you give raises?"

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Attorney Edmond El Dabe said asking about eligibility for a raise is inappropriate because it puts the cart before horse.

"This question indicates that the applicant is unhappy with the pay, which could mean that once they are hired, they could turn around and leave," El Dabe said. "An employer wants to feel that the employee wants the job regardless of whether or not they will get a raise."

"How often do employees get paid?"

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Asking how often employees are paid can imply that a job candidate is having financial problems, according to Susie Hall, president of the creative staffing firm Vitamin T.

"Even if it's true, it is not the best information to share at work," Hall said. "Plus, you'll appear to care more about what's in it for you than about what you can bring to the company to make them successful."

"Do you offer flex time?"

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Caitlin Hofherr, owner of lifestyle management agency Alter Ego Concierge, said candidates questioning work/life balance is a common mistake she sees in interviews.

"You're being hired to make someone else's life easier, not the other way around," Hofherr said. "No one wants to be asked about hours or schedules; it alludes to clock watching."

Hofherr said it is great to want a successful work/life balance but noted it must be earned over time. Follow Chad Brooks on Twitter @cbrooks76 or BusinessNewsDaily @BNDarticles. We're also on Facebook & Google+.

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