There are many different ways to blow an interview and turn off an employer. The worst responses to interview questions reveal flaws in your attitude, preparation, interest in the job or qualifications to get the work done well. They may also reflect negatively on your work ethic or your ability to work well with others.
Here are a few examples of the worst types of answers to interview questions, along with tips on what you can say instead to impress the interviewer.
Why should we hire you? "I don't know." "It sounds like a good job." Saying you don't know or giving a vague answer is never a good way to respond to any interview question. If you need to, take a little time to think about an answer before you respond.
Tell me about your last job? "Didn't you look at my resume?" is not the way to answer questions about your employment history. Be prepared to discuss your previous jobs with the interviewer and review your resume ahead of time so you know where you worked when.
What did you like least about your previous position?" "I hated the job and the company. They were awful to work for." It's important not to badmouth the companies or people you worked for, because you don't know what relationships they may have with the company you're interviewing with. I had an applicant who told me that her employer was the worst place to work ever. That employer happened to be our biggest and most important customer.
What are your strengths? "I do good work." "I'm the best." "I'm not sure, but I'm a good learner." Vague answers don't go over well. The interviewer wants to know what strengths you have that specifically relate to the job you are being considered for. Talk about the skills you have as they relate to the job, rather than giving general answers.
Can you share a weakness? "I can't think of any right now." "I tend to lose my patience with incompetent people." You always need to be prepared to share a weakness so you can demonstrate that you are committed to professional growth and have self-insight. Make sure any weakness does not create serious doubt about your willingness or ability to carry out the central functions of the job at hand.
Why were you fired? Be very careful when you answer questions about being fired - keep what you say about it as brief as possible. I had one job applicant tell me he was fired for failing a drug test and another who said he was fired for missing too much work.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? "In your job." "I hate that question." Most of us do hate this question, but a better answer is to speak about what you would like to learn and accomplish during that time with an emphasis on excelling in the job for which you are interviewing. Try to research a career path flowing from the job for which you are interviewing and reference a realistic goal for your progress. It is also acceptable to ask the interviewer for some common positions to which one might progress if one is successful in the initial position and then use that information to help frame your answer.
Do you work well with others? "My co-workers didn't like me, but I think it was because they were intimidated by me." "I get along with most people, but others really aggravate me." Rather than bad mouthing your co-workers, it's important to let the interviewer know that you get along well with everyone at work. Companies don't want to hire difficult employees and if you let them know during the interview that you aren't easy to get along with, you probably won't get the job.
Why should we hire you? "I'm the best one for the job." "I am great with people and a hard worker." Instead, be ready to mention six assets that will help you to succeed in the job. Be ready to reference examples of how you have applied those strengths to add value in various work, school or volunteer scenarios.
Tell me about yourself. "I'm a huge fan of the Yankees and avid softball player with the gift of gab; I'm usually the life of the party." Generally you will be better off by using this opening to mention some of your professionally oriented attributes which will help you get the job done. You can add one or two personal items at the end to round things out. For example, if you were applying for a job as a recruiter you might say something like "I am a good listener and a skilled interviewer who can usually read people well." Or "At ABC company, the retention rate of my hires was 20 percent above the department average. I have taken up golf and love it but am struggling to shoot less than 100."
Tell me how you were able to expand sales by 25 percent? "It's hard to say, but I'm a great salesman." Make sure you can back up any assertions on your resume with some concrete details. In this example you might cite your traits as a successful salesperson and/or techniques/strategies which you employed to generate sales.
Do you have any questions for me? "Do I have to work overtime?" "I don't have any questions." "How much vacation will I get?" "How much is the employee discount?" Always prepare some questions that relate to the job itself and the role you will play, training you will receive, career paths or other professional concerns. Questions about vacation time and benefits can wait until after you have been offered a position.