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The feeling of successfully getting through a job interview is hard to explain in words. No doubt it is a major step towards landing a job, maybe even your dream job! However, if we see this through the eyes of hiring managers, your interview is just a part of their routine job: they may conduct hundreds of interviews annually.
However, by no means should this in any way demotivate you or make you think that they don’t for them the interviewee is just another person they have to assess. They deal with job interviews much more often than you do, obviously. This can mean that what appears appropriate, unique or well-reasoned to you might be something that recruiters have already heard many times, maybe dozens of times in a single week!
Thus, in an effort to distinguish yourself from other job seekers, you should endeavor to avoid mundane, repetitious answers that recruiters have heard many times before. So it helps to know what exactly recruiters want interviewers want to hear from job seekers during interviews as well as the type of things they have heard many times before.
So, which answers to common interview questions are considered terrible, and what should be their best alternatives? Although various recruiters may think differently as to how to respond to questions, here are seven answers that nearly every hiring manager suggests job seekers not say, ever, during an interview, regardless of the nature of the job.
Question: Tell Me Something About Yourself?
Usual Answer: Details of personal and family life, medical history (sometimes), personal and professional shortcomings.
What’s Terrible About It: Always refrain from saying anything personal that might work against you, either during the interview session or after being hired. In general, recruiters don’t discuss family or health because they don’t care about such things – in fact, in many countries it is illegal!
Moreover, never highlight your weak points as part of this question. If the recruiter has considered you for an interview, they already know that you are capable of doing the job. Just have confidence and believe in yourself.
What You Should Say: Present a short summary – describing your professional experience to date, how it is relevant to the role you have applied for, and what your expectations are from the job with respect to professional growth. And, if you have some time left, then tell a bit about you, focusing on your interests and hobbies.
Question: What Do You Know about the Organization?
Usual Answer: Obvious information about the company, industry details or something vague.
What’s Terrible About It: Your sheer failure to research the company shows that you are too lazy to even open a browser on your computer or not really serious about the job opportunity. Experts suggest that job seekers can dramatically lower their likelihood of getting through the interview when they fail to prepare for such questions in advance.
A mere 15-minute web research session can help you get ample material to answer this common interview question like a pro. Just spending some time surfing the company’s official website is usually more than enough to demonstrate that you have done your due diligence.
What You Should Say: Discuss specific details about the company’s products/services, its business model, target market, milestones set by the company during the course of its development and other publicly available business-related information.
Question: What Do You Think Is Your Greatest Strength?
Usual Answer:I’m a team player.
What’s Terrible About It: This answer is too generic, suggesting nothing about your unique professional skills or qualities. In organizations, employees usually work in teams and everyone is expected to be a team player. So, how does this answer make you stand out? Answer? It doesn’t.
This projects the sense of you being under some sort of pressure or disingenuous on the whole, trying in vain to impress the recruiter with the answer you think they want to hear (but they don’t, you can be sure of that).
What You Should Say: You should be very particular about how you actually align with your colleagues/teammates and connect with associated departments to optimize operations and productivity. Also, discuss the importance of developing such interdepartmental connections and building relations with everyone in your team.
What Do You Think Is Your Greatest Weakness?
Usual Answer:I’m a perfectionist!
What’s Terrible About It: This answer is basically an interviewee’s attempt to hide their true weakness by saying something that they personally think is one of their strengths. No employer ever wants to reject a candidate whose greatest weakness is being a perfectionist or too driven, right?
Experts assert that such candidates don’t want to accept that there are areas that need improvement. Everyone has flaws and it is rarely a bad idea to talk about them and ways to improve.
What You Should Say: First things first, be honest. If you have plenty of professional experience, you must be aware of your flaws and key areas that need improvement. Be ready to share the skills that you think you should brush up on, how you came to know about your shortcomings…did someone tell you, or, even better, do you have an anecdote that can maybe explain it while being slightly humorous. And, what you are doing to become a better professional? Recruiters like meeting candidates who know their shortcomings and are actively working on those areas.
Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
Usual Answer:In the same job
What’s Terrible About It: This answer generally comes from job candidates when they want to reflect long-term commitment and loyalty to the organization, if only to prove to the recruiter that they think they are a great match. However, in reality, it may actually work against you, as it could show a lack of ambition.
As a matter of fact, hiring managers are least interested in hearing that you plan to be there for five years. Instead, they want to know your plans as a professional as well as organizational growth.
A candidate should take this time to convey their passion and ambition. Five years is quite a long time, and letting your future boss know that you don’t want to grow at all clearly portrays a lack of enthusiasm for the job.
What You Should Say: Needless to say, a natural progression is inevitable with every new role you take on, and job seekers know very well what sort of growth they can expect when they apply to a job opportunity.
However, a little extra research is not going to break your back! You can explore different departments within the organization. See whether there is an opportunity to spread out and diversify as a professional. Don’t think that shows a lack of interest in the job you are applying for but rather that you see growth opportunities for yourself and the organization.
Discuss your career goals with the hiring manager and let them know how you want to grow within and beyond the department for which you are interviewing. Also, let them know about your plans to help grow the department as a whole as well as the company’s business. Talk about skills you have that may help you achieve this.
While it’s okay to show your loyalty, it is equally important to make them understand why they should keep you for a period as long as five years or more.
Question: Why Do You Want to Work in This Company?
Usual Answer:I need a job or I think I’m a great fit here.
What’s Terrible About It: This might appear somewhat funny and truthful and straightforward to you, but it is just another terrible answer. Never utter something like this during a job interview.
Remember, if you don’t have a solid reason why a company should recruit you, chances are they are not going to hire you, the reason being they often have plenty of candidates to select from.
What You Should Say: To ace this question, you will certainly need to do some research on the company and prepare an interview-ready answer, comprising the company’s new products/services, corporate culture, initiatives, vision and mission, among other relevant things. Tell HR that the company is doing really well, and you are really excited about learning and growing within the organization.
Question: Why Should We Hire You for This Role?
Usual Answer:You are passionate about the job.
What’s Terrible About It: Simply saying you are passionate about a job will never give you an edge over your competitors. Obviously, other job candidates are also expected to be passionate about it and for that reason, they have applied for the job as well. So, you should come up with a suitable response that differentiates you from others and which aptly relates your professional background with the job requirements.
What You Should Say: Showcase how passionate you are about work and the job by discussing your accomplishments and putting forth quantitative results you have achieved in your previous or current roles. In addition to showing how active you are within the organization, let the hiring manager know what you do to grow and improve outside of the professional realm.
While you make all possible efforts to prepare for job interview questions in advance, it is important to understand that you are not the sole contender for the job. Thus, to stand out from the competition, your answers need to make a difference.
Quite often, people respond to interview questions by giving terrible answers that are either their own senseless creations or something they have heard others say during interviews.
So, when you are preparing answers to common interview questions , rather than focusing on what you feel is best, concentrate on what hiring managers want to hear, and especially what they don’t want to hear . A single terrible answer to a job interview question may work against you in several ways.
The answers discussed here will help you enhance your understanding on what to say during a job interview and more to the point what not to say. Preparing for common interview questions will surely improve your chances of acing the interview and get you one step closer to your dream job.