Sounding selfish in a job interview may not seem so obvious.

You might be telling yourself "Oh don't worry. I'll be careful. I'm sure I won't come off as selfish."

Although I'm sure you wouldn't ask such questions like "How much more money can I make on this job?" there are other very subtle ways a candidate can come off as selfish.

Specifically it's around asking questions about the unknown future.

I used to make this mistake too. When I was interviewing for contract positions, I asked a very common (but selfish) question - "Will this position eventually become a full-time role?"

These questions may not disqualify your candidacy, but it's certainly a negative mark in the eyes of the hiring manager.

Golden rule – the hiring manager only cares about the problems this role solves. It's all they have at this point, and any questions about your personal career growth is a distant concern. At least, until you get the job offer.

But I get it. It's still important that you know what you're getting into. After all, what you want – you career growth – is an important consideration.

Catch 22! Questions about career growth are important, but it may come off as selfish in the eyes and ears of the hiring manager.

Fortunately, there are specific questions you can ask about career growth that won't result in a negative mark against you. Use them wisely at the end of the interview when you're given an opportunity to ask questions.

The basic idea is to keep the questions focused on the present and past, and use those as clues to what the future can bring.

Question #1 "How Has This Position Changed Over The Years?"

This is a question only for the hiring manager as s/he will have the experience required to know how this position has evolved.

You're looking for queues that indicate the role has acquired more responsibility, perhaps even taken on a couple of projects.

This shows this is a valued position in the department, if it's constantly being adapted to business needs with new/additional work.

Great for your career, and helps the hiring manager gain perspective on how far they've come managing this role. Nice work!

Question #2 "What Personal Development Opportunities Do You Offer?"

Oooh. Careful here. Notice how the words are specifically chosen to mimic the language HR uses.

Instead of asking "How can I grown in this company?" you rephrased it with "Personal Development".

Sneaky, but clever.

Hiring managers value employees who take personal development seriously. In most corporate organizations, HR may mandate personal development plans as part of team objectives.

You get to learn about any training programs and development opportunities offered by the organization, and the hiring manager knows you're all about continuous service improvement. Nicely done!

Question #3 "What Are The Common Challenges Faced In This Position?"

This is a safe question, yet, it can be used to discover career growth opportunities as well.

By asking about challenges, it demonstrates you are proactively looking to hit the ground running and prepare for performing well in this role.

It also presents opportunities for you to take initiative and be innovative in building solutions to these challenges. Perhaps through automation?

Just be careful not offer personal suggestions during the interview, unless you humbly ask permission to do so. You don't want to come off as a know-it-all at this (or any) stage of the interview.

Your Move...

Arm yourself with these questions for your next interview.

Or even better, come up with a couple of your own. Remember, it's all about focusing on the present or past of this role, while using it to discover its future for your career.

You might be thinking, what if I'm asked the common question "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" In this instance, the hiring manager has voluntarily asked about a future-paced question.

Personally, at the surface, I think this is a pointless question because nobody can predict what can happen in 5 years. However, I believe the hiring manager knows this too. They are asking the question to assess how well you know yourself and your commitment to staying in this organization.

If you've already talked about the challenges and evolution of this role, talk about projects you'd want to take on that will move this department and team forward.