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Answers a job applicant should avoid saying


There is a quote that goes: “Some things are better left unsaid.”

The same is true when it comes to job interviews. Job applicants can sometimes be caught off-guard by certain questions and they end up giving bad answers.

In an article on, Alison Doyle enumerates the worst answers a jobseeker can give to a question and suggests much-better alternatives.

Question: Why should we hire you?

Doyle said a job applicant should avoid giving a vague reply like: “I don’t know” or “It sounds like a good job”. If needed, a jobseeker should take a little time to think of an answer. “Your answer to this question should be a concise ‘sales pitch’ that explains what you have to offer the employer,” she said.

Question: Tell me about your last job.

Common sense dictates that one should never, ever say “Didn’t you look at my resume?” to the interviewer. Doyle said a job applicant should “discuss his or her previous jobs and review his or her resume ahead of time to know where he or she worked and when.

Question: What did you like least about your previous position?

For a tricky question like that, the job applicant should not badmouth the people or companies he or she worked with. Instead, the jobseeker should try not to be negative. One answer the Doyle suggests goes this way: “One of the reasons I am leaving is that I felt I was not challenged enough at the job. As a new employee in the working world, the company offered me a great opportunity for a good entry level position – one that I’ll always be grateful for. However, after being there for so many years, I felt I was not able to reach my full potential because of a real lack of challenge. There really was no room for advancement in the company. While I did enjoy working there and appreciate the skills I developed while with the company, I feel my skill set can be better utilized elsewhere, where my capabilities are more recognized and there is the opportunity for growth.”

Question: What are your strengths?

A jobseeker should talk about the skills he or she has in relation to the job rather than giving general replies.

Question: Can you share a weakness?

Doyle said the job applicant “should be prepared to share a weakness in order to demonstrate that he or she is committed to professional growth and have self-insight.”

She also said the job applicant must make sure that any weakness does not create doubt about his or her willingness or ability to carry out the central functions of the job.

Question: 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,” Doyle warned.

She also said there is no need to give a lengthy explanation about what transpired. The best answer to the question can be: “Being cut loose was a blessing in disguise. Now I have an opportunity to explore jobs that better suit my qualifications and interests. My research suggests that such an opportunity may be the one on your table. Would you like to hear more about my skills in working with new technology?”

Question: Why have you decided to apply for this position?

A job applicant should cite specific reasons why the job is appealing and fits in with his or her career goals.

Question: Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

Doyle suggests that a jobseeker talk about what he or she would like to learn and accomplish during that time with emphasis on excelling in the job for which the person is 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,” Doyle said.

Question: Do you work well with others?

Rather than saying negative things about your former co-workers, Doyle said it’s important for the job applicant to let the interviewer know that he or she gets along 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, then you probably won’t get the job, Doyle emphasized.

Question: Can you tell me about yourself.

Doyle said as a general rule, job applicants would do well by mentioning some professionally-oriented attributes that will help the job hunter get the job done. The interviewee can add one or two personal items at the end as well.

Question: Do you have any question for me?

Yet another tricky question for which Doyle suggested that the jobseeker can ask about the role he or she will play, training he or she will receive, career paths or other professional concerns. And as for questions about vacation time and benefits, they can wait until after the applicant gets the job. GAC/Expat Media


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