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Answers to Avoid During an Interview

Group of managers contemplating the answers given by a candidate.

By Katherine Konrad, an experienced marketing professional and recent Celarity contractor 

You landed an in-person interview? Congrats! Now it’s time to brush up on those interviewing skills and prepare solid responses for whatever might come your way. As important as it is to answer a question well, it’s also important to avoid answering poorly. Read on for some common interview questions with answers you should avoid, along with tips for how you should respond instead. 

Tell me about yourself.

Well, I’m from here. Divorced with two kids; split custody. When the kids are with me, we spend a lot of time at church events.   

This question is meant to get to know your personality, a bit. But, mostly it’s to understand how your background relates to the type of skill set the role requires. It’s alright to talk about hobbies, but definitely avoid marital status, politics and religion. Instead, steer your examples toward past experiences, achievements and awards.

Why should we hire you?

I’m a hard worker. My old coworkers really liked me.

The hiring manager is likely interviewing many other candidates, so a generic answer such as the above will not make you memorable. You should instead explain what you are able to offer, that the other candidates can’t. If you can back your exceptional qualities up with anecdotal evidence of past accomplishments, even better.

What did you like least about your previous position?

My manager was really micromanage-y and the benefits weren’t great. 

It’s not a good look to speak poorly of a past manager, or gripe about what the company was able to offer you. This reflects negatively on your character and showcases a victim mentality. This question is meant to understand what tasks you might not like to do and make sure that the current position won’t entail work you’ll be miserable doing. The interviewer wants to ensure the day to day tasks of the role would be a good fit for you. 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself here.

This answer is fine as long as it’s just how it begins. Follow up with what plans you have for what you’d like to accomplish and how you’d like to benefit the company. Do you want to see yourself in a managerial position? Do you want to be the brains behind a campaign idea that goes viral (because, you’ve done it before!)? What goals do you have that will pique the interest of the interviewer and prove you’ll be a good asset on their team.  

Why are you interested in this role?

I was looking for jobs and this one looked interesting. Plus, the office is close to my house.

When asked this question, it’s good to talk about how your passions relate to the responsibilities of the job, the company, and/or its culture. Stay away from anything vague or superficial, like its proximity to your home. Any time you can include examples of successful projects you’ve led, you should.

Do you have any questions?

No, I think our conversation covered all of the questions I had.

If you don’t have any questions at the close of an interview, maybe you’re not interested in the job, the hiring manager, or the company. Even if all prepared questions had been answered, just by being engaged in the conversation should lead to follow up inquiries. 

If you can’t think of any question related to the dialogue you just had: a good follow up to ask is if they feel you would be a good fit, or if there are any hesitations and if you could address them. This question shows: 1.) you are confident because you’re putting yourself in a vulnerable position wherein you’ll have to think on your feet and, 2.) it gives you a chance to reassure the hiring manager or provide additional context that could sway the decision in your favor.

A good rule of thumb with an answer to any question is to stay away from negativity or vague responses. Instead, your answers should highlight what you’re good at, what you’ve accomplished, and how you can apply that to this job you’re interviewing for. 

Blond woman smiling at the camera - Katherine konrad.

Katherine is a marketing professional by day and a content creator by night. She enjoys summers in Minnesota, and anywhere else in the winter. When she’s not writing you can find her exploring new neighborhood hangouts; dressed up at a social event; jogging around Minneapolis lakes; or staring at her phone.

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