When it comes to interviewing, it’s important to set yourself apart from the competition. One of the best ways to do that is to ensure that your responses to common questions are thoughtful, unique, and memorable. Here are some robotic responses that you’ll want to avoid:
1. What made you want to apply to this position?
Cliché Response: “I thought the job description was a great match for my skill set.”
What’s wrong with the cliché response? It’s lazy and it tells the hiring manager that you haven’t done your research on the company. You should be able to list a specific reason why you want to work for them over someone else.
Better Response: “I love the work that you’re doing and I’m excited to get to work on [mention a project or something else specific that the job is offering]. I think this role is a great opportunity for me to learn more about [something else specific from the job description] and I love the company culture that you have created. Your people are amazing and they all clearly love their jobs. I’m excited to grow my career and be a part of that!”
2. What are your biggest strengths?
Cliché Response: “I’m hard working, organized, reliable, trustworthy, and a team player.”
What’s wrong with the cliché response? While these are all admirable traits, they are subjective. Listing strengths that aren’t just a laundry list of admirable personality traits is more effective and memorable.
Better Response: “My biggest strength is my commitment to providing excellent client service and my ability to listen with the intent to understand and not the intent to reply. This has really helped me hone my communication skills and I played a big part in improving customer satisfaction scores in my previous job. This is something I’m really proud of and I’ve been called on to train others in matters relating to customer service. I also think I’m great at adapting to change, managing details, and encouraging an environment of positivity.”
3. What is your biggest weakness?
Cliché Response: “I tend to work too hard” OR, “I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”
What’s wrong with the cliché response? Answers like these are boring and everyone knows they’re cover ups for real weaknesses. Employers are looking for a certain degree of honesty and transparency when they ask this question. No one is perfect, and they don’t expect you to be. They want to know what they are really getting if they hire you.
Better Response: “I’ve never really had to use Excel very much in any of my prior roles; as a result, I’ve noticed that I don’t have many advanced skills there. Even though this is not something that is a core requirement for this role, it’s something that I think is a valuable skill and I’ve recently begun taking an on online Excel course to improve in this area.”
4. What’s your approach to time management?
Cliché Response: I’m naturally organized and I’m great at prioritizing.”
What’s wrong with the cliché response? This response is so overused. Organization and prioritization are apparently everyone’s approach to time management (insert eye roll here).
Better Response: “I think organization is key to time management and so is communication. To ensure that I am mindful of these things, I am meticulous about using my Outlook calendar to track deadlines and stay on task with projects. I also believe in having regular check points with my manager to ensure we are all on the same page about what is a top priority each week.”
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