For most job seekers, there are few better feelings than walking out of an interview knowing you gave the perfect response to all of your interviewer’s questions. Unfortunately, what might be a ‘perfect’ response to most candidates, might not necessarily be the type of answer a hiring manager is looking for to determine if you are truly the best fit. While some candidates try their best to plan the perfect response that makes them sound like a strong candidate, too often these answers can backfire.
Over time, certain responses have become so common that they now make you sound cliché or overly rehearsed. Here are four to avoid at all costs:
Q: “What is your greatest weakness?”
A: “My greatest weakness is that I am a perfectionist and I work too hard.”
Nothing screams ‘I have little self-awareness,’ to your interviewer like giving an answer like the above as it pertains to your weaknesses. Interviewers will typically ask this question with an understanding of how difficult it can be to talk about your own weaknesses, but a good response shouldn’t speak to your perfection. Instead, it should speak to your emotional intelligence—a quality many employers seek in new hires. As a general rule of thumb, don’t try to skirt around this question. You should always have a well thought out response that addresses an honest flaw and what you’ve done to improve upon it.
Q: “Why are you leaving your employer?”
A: “I’m leaving my employer because they are the worst.”
Hiring managers want to know why you are seeking employment or why you are looking to leave your current employer. Revealing that you’re seeking employment because you are unhappy with your last employer is fine, but don’t take this as an opportunity to go into detail to speak negatively about them. Whether it is your crazy boss, a poor work/life balance, or inadequate benefits, you should keep this type of negative information to yourself. Why? Not only does this almost guarantee you won’t get the job, but it also speaks poorly to your sense of loyalty. In other words, if all it takes to talk negatively about an employer is being unhappy with your current situation, your hiring manager can’t help but think you would do the same thing to them down the road. Therefore, take the high road when answering this question. To do this, focus on what you learned, and how you could bring that knowledge to the role you’re interviewing for.
Q: “Do you have any questions for me?”
A: “I don’t have any questions, I think you’ve covered them all.”
One of the best ways for an employer to decide amongst strong candidates is their level of engagement through their follow-up questions. While some interviewers may be more forthcoming than others, not asking any additional questions can raise some major red flags. For example, this can either imply you aren’t as interested in the job as you should be, or that you weren’t prepared for the interview; both of which will hurt your chances of getting hired. In these scenarios, have a few questions prepared to learn more about the role and responsibilities.
Q: “Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a team member and how you overcame it?”
A: “I haven’t had much conflict in the workplace; I feel like I work well with everyone.”
Your potential to work well with other team members is one aspect many hiring managers try to evaluate throughout the interview process. For example, they may ask questions about workplace conflict resolution or your approach to overcoming challenges to determine if you would be a good partner to bring onto their team. Stating that you ‘work well with everyone’ might actually mean you aren’t aware of how others perceive you as a teammate. Additionally, disagreement is only natural in the workplace, so employers are interested in how you respectfully handle it. As a result, giving a vague or overly positive response can automatically take you out of the running. For questions related to collaboration, good responses focus on the traits and skills you possess that make you a person people want to work with.