Have you ever been guilty of telling a job interviewer that you’re “extremely” organized? Maybe you’ve even bragged that you’re a hard worker, or about how passionate you are about the company (even if it sells watches or insurance).
Well, that all ends here. You may think those answers paint you as the perfect candidate, but they’re actually just cliches the interviewer’s heard before—and they certainly don’t help your chances of landing the job.
We asked nine entrepreneurs from YEC to share the worst responses they’ve heard from candidates so that you can avoid those boring, rehearsed answers, too.
1. “I’m Passionate About the Challenges You’re Solving”
It’s very, very rare for someone to be ‘passionate’ about custom watches. What I would prefer candidates share is an honest assessment of their experience and what new skills they’re interested in developing. Ideally, they’ll have a track record of success and a hunger to improve. No, we’re not saving the world, so please be mindful about sharing your passions!
2. “I See Myself Doing This a Long Time From Now”
While on the surface it sounds like you’re going to be loyal to the company for years to come, this always comes across to me as someone with no ambitions. I want to hear how you’re going to grow in this role, bring new ideas, advance our company, and add value. Doing the same thing for five years screams stagnancy and a lack of ambition.
3. “My Biggest Weakness Is That I Work Too Much”
I’ve had at least a dozen candidates say their ‘biggest weakness’ is working too much or that he or she is a perfectionist. He or she will often say this without being prompted (I would never ask a candidate his or her biggest weakness because it’s a softball question), which is a dead giveaway that it’s rehearsed. Instead of giving the response you think an interviewer wants to hear, be honest and candid.
4. “This Is My Dream Job”
Though somewhat flattering, when a candidate says the job he or she’s applying for is his dream job, it doesn’t tell the employer why the candidate is a ‘dream employee,’ which is the real question at hand. Instead, show off that enthusiasm for the role by demonstrating how you would use that passion to drive solutions to business challenges. Enthusiasm must be backed by substance and strategy.
5. “Here’s What I Know From Your ‘About Us’ Page”
Something that commonly happens for us, and I’m sure for a lot of companies, is when job candidates simply regurgitate a few lines about the company from our ‘About Us’ page when asked, ‘What do you know about Voices.com,’ or ‘Can you explain what we do?’ It comes off as rehearsed, because it’s obviously a simple memorization, and minimal effort has been put in. To be a winning candidate, be more engaged.
6. “I’m a Problem Solver”
Don’t just mention that you’re an experienced problem solver and can learn quickly. Instead of making generic statements with no backing details, provide brief but detailed examples as to how you solved a particular problem or took on a new project and learned something new.
7. “I’m a Hard Worker”
This is the one answer that always sounds cliche to me. Everyone who is interviewing for a position is a hard worker, so instead, tell me how you’re a hard worker. Do you often stay late to complete work? Do you take on extra assignments? That will go so much further than just saying you’re a hard worker, as it will show that you bring value.
8. “I Quit My Last Job Because I Was Unhappy”
In the many interviews we’ve conducted with highly-qualified candidates, we see patterns of very short tenures at their previous places of employment. When questioned, their response is almost always ‘I was just unhappy.’ It’s a big red flag to a potential employer to infer that you quit when the going gets tough.
9. “I’m Extremely Organized”
When I ask candidates about their one biggest strength they could contribute to the team, they say they are extremely organized, ‘love’ to-do lists, and have a million planners they can’t live without. Candidates don’t realize that those are attributes every great employee has. Answering with that limits your ability to stand out from the rest of your competition.