Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
INTERVIEWS / JUL. 10, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How Not to Answer Interview Questions

When applying for a position, you will more than likely need to complete some sort of interview process. Interviews can be frightening, as there’s always a high level of anticipation. There are many thoughts that come to mind once a date and time have been set.

  • What will the interviewer ask?
  • What should I wear?
  • How should I prepare?

Although these are all great questions to ask yourself regarding what to do, what about what you SHOULDN’T do? You should not only be conscious of the right things to say and do, but also the wrong things to say and do.

What Will The Worst Answers Include?

If you’re in an interview, you will want to show your prospective employer that you’re right for the job. It’s not always just about your experience. The interviewer will want to see that you’ll be a good fit, so your personality has a lot to do with it too.

The worst responses to interview questions will:

  • Portray a negative attitude
  • Show lack of preparation
  • Show lack of interest in the position or industry
  • Give the impression that you’re not qualified
  • Reflect your negative work ethic

Examples of the Worst Answers to Common Interview Questions

Example Number One:

Why should our company hire you? How can you benefit our work environment?

“I don’t know, it seemed like a good job. I thought I was a good fit so I applied.”

This answer is far too vague. You should never begin an answer with ’I don’t know.’ If you need some time, take a second. Think about the ways that you can enrich the work environment at that location. This is easy to prepare for, make a list of ways you can add value to the company.


Example Number Two:

Can you please tell me a little bit about your last job? What were your main roles there?

“I have all of that listed on my resume, don’t you have a copy?”

This is a bad answer for obvious reasons. The interviewer is asking you questions not just to hear the answer, but to see how you deliver your answer. When preparing, plan on answering questions regarding your employment history. You want to add value to your discussion, showing the interviewer that you can handle pressure. Focus on your roles there, how do they add relate to the position you’re applying for?


Example Number Three:

What do you think are your greatest strengths?

“Um, I’m not sure... I’m a good learner.”

Once again, this is far too vague. The interviewer will want to see strengths that apply to the position you’re applying for. General answers do not add any insight, they can actually hinder your chances of getting the job. Focus on skills that relate to the job. If you’re applying to be a manager at a bank, mention your ability to lead a team. Talk about your effective communication skills as well as your ability to problem solve.


Example Number Four:

Why did you leave your last job? What did you like least about your experience there?

“I left because I hated the company and my boss. They were too demanding and difficult to work for.”

You should never bad mouth previous places of employment, this is highly unprofessional. You never know, the interviewer may have some sort of relationship with the company you worked for previously. You also do not want to reflect poorly on yourself. Don’t mention that the work was too hard, this shows a potential lack of motivation. You could say, “I felt as though I wasn’t challenged enough. Although I learnt a lot during my time there, I felt as though it was time to progress in my career. There wasn’t any more room to grow at my previous company and I am determined to take my career to the next level.”


Example Number Five:

Do you have any questions for me?

“Do I have to work weekends?”- “How much vacation time do we get, is it paid?”- “Do you offer an employee discount?”

There are exceptions, but you should not be diving into those types of questions within the interview process. Maybe you need to watch your niece every weekend, in that case you could be forthcoming about not being able to work weekends. This shows that you asked due to a legitimate reason, not because you’re unwilling to put in extra hours. Prepare questions that focus on your position at the company and what roles you’ll play. Focus on the training you will receive and any other professional concerns.

 So, remember that you should always portray a positive and professional attitude. Prepare before your interview so that you’re not fumbling on your answers. Your answers tell an interviewer a lot about you and your work ethic.

Be selective in the words you choose, portraying yourself in a positive manner. You want to walk away from the interview with the interviewer excited. This will mean that you were not only a good fit, but can offer the company something.

If you are a benefit to the company, this will benefit your career. Take your time with the answers you choose, don’t let nerves get the better of you. If you’re qualified and excited about the position, be yourself. Come prepared, but appear relaxed.  

Photo credit: Flickr

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