6 Answers To Questions That Will Ruin Your Chances Of Being Hired


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Interview tomorrow? You’ve got it covered. You’ll just wing it, answering questions like you’ve done before…except for one problem: “winging it” won’t work anymore.



Today’s workforce is highly competitive. In fact, 85 percent of employers plan to receive more, or at least the same amount, of applications this year as last year, according to Snagajob’s 2015 Summer Hiring survey.

If you don’t take the time to prepare, you could end up committing some of today’s worst interview faux pas by answering questions poorly and completely ruin your chances at being hired.

Here are some examples of what a hiring manager thinks when you respond to interview questions in the following ways:

You: “What does your company do exactly?”

HM: “Why are you asking me a question you could have asked Google? Also, if you don’t know what we do, how do you know you want to work here?”

Before your interview — or, before you even apply — research the company thoroughly. Read their website’s blog or news page. Learn the employees’ passions, what drives them to carry out the company mission, and major pain points they’re trying to resolve — both internally and externally. Determine interests you share so during the interview you’ll have plenty to chat about.

You: “I’m highly motivated and [insert buzzword here].”

HM: “Let me guess, you’re also a creative problem solver who is highly organized. Yep, heard it all before.”

Bypass the buzzwords and share something intriguing and specific about you. Tell a short story about a professional experience you had that shaped your personal values or the way you work. Explain why your interests and goals are unique from the average applicant.

You: “My greatest weakness? I’m a perfectionist.”

HM: “You’ve got to be kidding. You mean to tell me your only flaw is you’re obsessed with being flawless? You’re human, and I’d like a real answer, thanks.”

Hiring managers see right through this answer, and some will even consider this response as a cover-up for an answer you really don’t want to reveal. No one is perfect. Go ahead and share something authentic about yourself that you’re working on improving. Focus on the steps you’re taking to improve.

You: “My last boss was a complete idiot.”

HM: “I feel really bad for your last boss right now. I wouldn’t ever want any of my former employees to speak this way about me…including you in the future.”

Never defame your previous boss or anyone you’ve worked with. It will only reflect negatively on your character. If you didn’t get along with your last boss, don’t recap the drama. Instead, look at your experience with your boss objectively and highlight the qualities within him or her you appreciated the most. Don’t bring up the conflict unless you’re specifically asked, and even then, focus on the steps you took to find a resolution.

You: “What’s the time-off policy?”

HM: “Wait, you want to work for me, but you’re already thinking about how much time you’ll have to not be at work?”

This is an immediate red flag for employers. If you’re already planning your next vacation, chances are, you’re not really invested in being a part of the team. Companies want dedicated employees who are willing to do whatever it takes to help the organization achieve its goals, and sometimes that means personal time off needs to take a backseat to work. Are you willing to sacrifice that?

You: “I don’t know.”

HM: “What do you mean you don’t know? If you don’t know yourself, how can you expect us to get to know you?”

Prepare answers to questions about yourself ahead of time. Ask your friends to ask you random questions that force you to become more familiar with yourself. The better your self-awareness, the more prepared you’ll be to answer even the most challenging interview questions with ease.

By now, hiring managers have seen just about everything. So it’s your job to blow them away by answering questions like the unique, authentic, positive, dedicated, self-aware candidate you are.

What are some unique ways you’ve responded to tough interview questions that have worked in your favor?

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta is the co-owner and leader of business development at CareerShift, a comprehensive job hunting and career management solution for companies, outplacement firms, job seekers and university career centers. You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, LinkedIn.