Interviewing

10 Worst Interview Answers (And How To Improve Them)

October 7, 2021

Employers may ask many questions during a job interview, and it's important to answer each one in a way that helps you make a positive impression. Answering interview questions thoughtfully can help you show employers your qualifications for the position. With some practice and preparation, you can learn how to answer interview questions positively to improve your chances of getting the job. In this article, we explain why it's important to avoid bad interview answers, list some of the worst interview answers with ways to improve the responses and provide some helpful tips for answering interview questions.

Related: 125 Common Interview Questions and Answers (With Tips)

Why is it important to avoid bad interview answers?

During an interview, it's important to answer questions honestly and thoughtfully so you can show employers why you're a qualified candidate for the job. Responding with positive answers to an interviewer's questions can show them you're prepared for the interview and passionate about working in the position. When you answer an interview question clearly and concisely, you can also show employers you're confident about your ability to do the job well. It's possible to avoid bad interview answers by preparing for some common questions and practicing your answers to help you feel confident in your responses.

Related: 12 Tough Interview Questions and Answers

10 of the worst interview answers and how to improve them

Here are 10 common interview questions and poor responses with ways to improve the answers so you can highlight your qualifications for the job:

1. Can you tell me about yourself?

Poor answer: "What would you like to know?"

How to improve the answer: This is a common interview question, so have an answer prepared that summarizes your work experience and qualifications for the job. Be specific in your answer so you can show employers how your skills align with the position. Using your answer to provide specific details about your work experience can help employers understand why you'd be a good fit for the role. For example, if you're applying for a help desk technician job, you could share with employers that you have several years of experience helping friends and family with their computer problems.

Read more: How To Answer "Tell Me About Yourself" (Tips and Example Answers)

2. What do you know about the company?

Poor answer: "I know you sell food products."

How to improve the answer: Before the interview, take some time to research the company so you can provide a comprehensive answer to this question. In your response, provide specific details about the company to help you appear prepared for the interview and show employers you genuinely want to work for the company. If possible, highlight some ways that your strengths can benefit the company's objectives. For example, you could tell an employer you know the company's mission is to provide exemplary service to each customer and then explain how you can help them reach this goal.

3. What did you like least about your previous job?

Poor answer: "I became frustrated with my manager because they micromanaged me."

How to improve the answer: Regardless of your experience in your previous job, it's important to speak positively about other employers so you can show the interviewer you have an optimistic attitude. Think about the experience you gained in your last job and answer the question in a way that shows your professional growth and development. For example, you could say that you struggled to communicate with your manager initially, but eventually established a trusting relationship that allowed you to work on projects without direct supervision, which motivated you to reach your work goals.

4. What is your greatest strength?

Poor answer: "I'm a quick learner."

How to improve the answer: It's important to provide a specific answer to this question so you can show employers how you would use those strengths in a new position. When answering this question, try to choose strengths that would be beneficial for the job. If possible, provide specific examples of ways you used those strengths in a past position. For example, if you're applying for an administrative job, you could tell the interviewer you have excellent organizational skills, which helped you create and maintain a new electronic filing system in your last position.

5. What's a weakness you have?

Poor answer: "I honestly don't think I have any weaknesses."

How to improve the answer: For this question, it's important to be honest and transparent about a weakness so you can show an employer you have self-awareness and a desire to grow professionally. If possible, choose a weakness that has little impact on your ability to do the job well. You can also describe a weakness that you're already actively working to improve. For example, you could tell an employer that you struggle with multitasking, but you're working to improve in this area by making a to-do list each day and prioritizing your top tasks.

6. Why do you want to work here?

Poor answer: "I recently moved and want to find a job closer to my area."

How to improve the answer: In your answer to this question, provide specific reasons that show employers your passion for the job. Interviewers often ask this question to determine what you already know about a company and to evaluate how you'd fit within the company culture. Do some research before the interview and make notes about the company environment that you can reference when answering this question. For example, you could say that you know the business encourages cross-functional collaboration among departments and you're excited about using your teamwork skills to work with others.

7. Why should we hire you for this job?

Poor answer: "I know I can do a great job in this role."

How to improve the answer: When you answer this question, be specific about some of your skills and attributes that can help you be successful in the position. In your response, list some qualifications you have that may distinguish you from other job candidates. Then provide some examples of times you've used those qualifications in other positions. This can help you convince employers you're the best candidate for the job. For example, you may tell employers that you have excellent negotiation skills, which led you to become the top salesperson on the team at your last job.

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Poor answer: "I hope to be working in this role."

How to improve the answer: Use your answer to show employers your commitment to learning and growing professionally in a new role. Explain some career goals you have for yourself and describe how your personal goals fit with the company's strategic objectives. Before the interview, research the common progression for people in the position you're applying for and align your response with that career path. For example, if you're applying for an entry-level position, you could tell employers you'd like to be managing a team of employees and focusing on ways to improve operational efficiency.

9. How do you prioritize your professional development?

Poor answer: "I work so hard that I rarely have time to focus on professional development."

How to improve the answer: A good answer to this question can show employers you value professional development and actively seek ways to improve your skills. This answer can help you demonstrate your commitment to your career growth, which can be an attractive quality to many employers. When you answer this question, give examples of several ways that you've worked to grow professionally in the past. For example, you may tell an interviewer that you joined a professional association in the industry to network with other professionals and learn new ideas from others.

10. Do you have any questions for me?

Poor answer: "No, I think you've covered everything I wanted to know."

How to improve the answer: This question gives you an opportunity to learn more about the company and the position. Having a list of questions ready to ask about the job can show employers you're prepared for the interview and have a strong interest in the role. Use your response to ask some questions that can give you additional insight into the position, such as the type of training you'd receive or how a manager would evaluate your success. For example, you could ask the interviewer how team members interact with each other to achieve shared goals.

Read more: Interview Questions To Ask Employers

Tips for answering interview questions

Here are some tips for answering interview questions thoughtfully:

Practice your answers

It's helpful to practice your answers to some common interview questions before you meet with an employer so you can feel confident about your responses. Search online for some typical questions and write down ideas for each question to help you organize your thoughts. Then practice your responses several times so you become comfortable with them. It can help to record yourself answering questions so you can listen back and evaluate your responses. You can also practice with a friend or family member and ask for their feedback as you prepare.

Related: 21 Job Interview Tips: How To Make a Great Impression

Pause before responding

When an employer asks you a question, it's acceptable to pause for a moment before you respond so you can think through your answer. A brief pause before answering can show the interviewer you're actively listening to their questions and allowing them to finish speaking before you respond. It also gives you additional time to think about the content and delivery of your answer so you can portray confidence. If you ever feel unsure about a question, it's fine to ask the interviewer to clarify or repeat the question to make sure you understand it completely.

Be specific

A job interview gives employers an opportunity to evaluate the strengths and abilities you can bring to the position. For this reason, it's important to be specific in each of your answers so you can highlight your qualifications for the role and convey your interest in the job. Keep each of your answers focused on what you can bring to the company and the skills you have to perform the job tasks effectively. This can help you convince employers you'd be successful in the position.

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