5 responses to avoid at your next job interview

5 responses to avoid at your next job interview

You have compiled your resume; perfected your cover letter, and now face the most important part of your job search – the interview. Don’t let the opportunity slip through your fingers with the wrong responses.

Many candidates with great resumes don’t make it through the interview stage because they fail to answer some of an employer’s more frequently asked questions.

It pays to come prepared with some rehearsed responses about yourself, previous work and experiences to date. Here are five typical responses to avoid in an interview.

“Tell me about yourself”

A common opener, this question really means “tell me about yourself as a professional”.

Employers are interested in your work ethic and mentality. Provide a response that highlights why your personality and background is relevant to the job and company, and demonstrate your interest in the industry.

A brief mention of a quirky personal achievement can be good way to end this question. Choose one which will capture the interviewer’s interest, as well as displaying your determination and drive.

Discover more job interview tips

“What has been your biggest achievement?”

A person who cannot identify their own achievements does not normally make it to the second round of interviews.

Explain your achievement, how you accomplished it, and what you learned from the process. Get your points across in a factual and sincere manner. An interview question like this is designed to gauge your measure of success and your process of thinking in getting there.

Don’t be afraid to put your best foot forward.

“What are your weaknesses?”

Avoid responses such as “I’m a workaholic”, or “I’m a perfectionist.” Pick a genuine weakness. Explain the problem, and how the position you are applying for will allow you to improve that skill. This will demonstrate to employers that you are self-aware and self-motivated.

“Why did you leave your last job?”

It’s no secret that many people choose to leave their job because they are unhappy, unmotivated or unsatisfied. Yet, however emotionally attached you are to your reasons, it is important to answer this interview question without venom.

Focus on comparison between your previous workplace and the employer you are interviewing for. Avoid pettiness or being overly specific about events.

“Why do you want to work at our company?”

Employers look for two things in response to this question. First, how well your goals and values align with those of the company. Secondly, how well you actually know their business.

Before the interview, do your due diligence. Read the company website, scan media coverage and find tangible examples of where the organisation has succeeded. You can also watch our recruiter advice video for best tackling the job interview process.

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