Interview Question: 'Give Us One Good Reason Not to Hire You

Illustration of a panicked woman being interviewed by a female manager

Going for a job interview can be nerve-wracking.

Will they like you? What will you wear? Is your CV good enough?

Most importantly, are you ready to answer any difficult questions?

While most interviewees anticipate the traditional ‘What’s your biggest weakness?‘ question, what they don’t expect to hear is the more complicated, trick question ‘Give us one good reason not to hire you’. This one throws many candidates off guard, leaving them unable to provide the most suitable answer.

Why would you want to give any reason not to be hired, right?

This tough question is most likely going to come up during your job interview, so, to help you construct a confident and perfect answer, we’ve prepared a quick and helpful guide.

Read on to find out how to respond to the complex and not-so cliché interview question ‘why should we not hire you?’.

Why interviewers ask this question

Interviews are your chance to shine. An opportunity to brag about your skills. A way for you to land the job of your dreams.

So, why would you want to highlight any negative traits? Why on earth would you want to emphasise reasons that might make you fail this interview?

Well, like the common interview question ‘What’s your biggest weakness’, this one aims to reveal how well you can think on your feet and how honest you are.

As a matter of fact, it’s also designed to cleverly reveal your strengths – if you’re able to turn it around (more on that later).

You might think that interviewers ask this question to intentionally trip you up and fail the interview. But, really, what they’re trying to see is how well you handle being on the spot, and if your response is impressive enough.

It may seem they’re trying to reveal your weaknesses, but this question is actually designed to determine your strengths and if you’ve got what it takes for the role.

Other ways your interviewer could pose this question include:

  • Give us one good reason not to hire you.
  • Why should we not hire you?
  • What might stop us from hiring you?

How to prepare a response

Depending on how the interview goes and how confident you feel at the time, you can use your weaknesses, strengths and knowledge of the company to successfully answer this complicated question.

Here are a few tips on preparing your answer before the interview:

1. Identify your weakness

When asked the question ‘Give us one good reason not to hire you’, one way to go about it is to be honest and actually reveal your weaknesses. Let’s face it: there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect employee’. Everyone has flaws and areas of their careers they could improve upon.

Prepare for this question beforehand by truly understanding where you need to improve in the workplace.

But be careful here. You’ll mention your weakness, but you’ll also add that you’re working on improving it. Your answer will depend on the job you’re applying for, after all. For instance, you’re not going to pick ‘shy’ if you’re applying for a sales position. Refer to a flaw that’s unrelated to the job role and mention how you’re dealing with it.

You also don’t want to be overly negative about it. Describe your weakness positively.

2. Know your strengths

This question is designed to play tricks on you, but what if you played tricks on the interviewer, too?

Before the interview, scrutinise your CV and really nail down your strengths.

Essentially, you’re being asked about your flaws, but you’re going to be smart about it and actually put the focus on your strengths.

But how do you do that without messing up?

As mentioned above, you’re going to mention a weakness that isn’t related to the job role and then put more emphasis on a strength that’s beneficial for the role. If you’re interviewing for an accounting position, for example, you can mention your disinterest in managing people but then flip the answer around and focus on your skills in managing spreadsheets and reports instead.

You can highlight your strengths so much to the point where the interviewer will ‘forget’ what the question was in the first place!


3. Research the company

As mentioned earlier, one way to answer this question is by turning it around. And to do so, you need to really know where your strengths lie and understand the company culture.

Prepare for the interview by identifying how the company functions and nailing down what the job role truly entails. You can research this information by scrolling through the firm’s website and social media accounts. Once you have an idea about their goals and expectations, work up a response to this question by toying with these elements and twisting it around.

For instance, if you know the company focuses a lot on teamwork, you might say that they shouldn’t hire you if they’re looking for someone who likes working independently. You’ll then twist your answer by adding that you thrive in a team.

This way you’ll fool them by mentioning a weakness that’s actually considered a strength in their eyes. 

Example answers

If you think you might be stuck for words when faced with this question, you can consider our sample answers below. Bear in mind that your response will always depend on the position you’re applying for, though!

The honest answer

Be honest, but always mention you’re taking steps to improve:

‘Well, sometimes, I over-analyse things. I tend to overthink a little bit and go over minor details too thoroughly. But as I learned in my previous job, this can be a hindrance and so I now look over things a lot quicker with a clearer mind. I’ve practised by creating a mental checklist, or I even sometimes make notes on paper. This way, I can remain focused.’

The smart answer

Answer with a weakness but put focus on your strengths:

‘You shouldn’t hire me if you’re looking for someone with managerial skills. I’d say I am quite weak at managing people and teams – I’m not really suited for that responsibility. But on the other hand, I’m exceptional at managing statistics and reports. I have quite the mastery of Microsoft Excel. I know it like the back of my hand.’

The trick answer

Mention a weakness that’s seen as a strength in their eyes:

‘I don’t think you should hire me if you’re looking for someone who likes working independently. I thrive most when I’m in a group. It helps me be more creative, and I enjoy bouncing ideas off each other and coming up with joint solutions. Working alone doesn’t let me reach my full potential. I believe collaborating on a project benefits everyone’s productivity.’

This trick question may take you by surprise if you’re not prepared for it. But you can avoid freezing up and saying the wrong thing by cleverly wording your answer and considering all the factors mentioned above. This way, you can guarantee leaving a good impression on your potential employer and, hopefully, landing the job!

Just remember: never, ever give them a real reason not to hire you.

What other ways could you answer this question? Let us know how you’ve handled this hurdle in the past in the comments section below!


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 27 November 2014.