4 Cliche Job Interview Answers to Avoid

by Legal Author on August 28, 2012


The following is a guest blog post outlining tips to avoid four of the most cliché interview answers. It should hopefully be useful for law students, legal professionals and others.

Job hunting can be quite a daunting process – so when you do secure yourself an interview the last thing you want is to be let down with cliché answers. Here are some examples of cliché questions, with the answers you should avoid at all cost:

Question: ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’

Answers to avoid: ‘I’m a perfectionist/I work too hard/I’m too good’

Any interviewer will see these answers coming a mile off. They are uninventive, and most importantly they are not true! Nobody can be too good at a job, so don’t pretend you are. Instead, answer honestly, embrace your weaknesses and discuss the areas you feel you need to improve on. Don’t go too far and tell them about your chronic lack of motivation, but say something like ‘I feel my IT skills are my biggest weakness, and I’d really like to improve on them. I’ve noticed this company offers some training and development in this area, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to working here. I’ve also started taking a short course in IT in my spare time to further improve my capabilities’.

This firstly shows that you’ve taken note on what the company offers, and it shows what you’re doing to improve as an individual. Here, you’ve shown that you’re able to identify your own weaknesses and do something about them. This is much more attractive to employees as it shows you’re honest and hard working.

Question: ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years?’

Answers to avoid: ‘Sitting in your chair/working as your boss’

This answer in theory shows a great confidence and sense of humour from the interviewee. However, it is something that has now been done too many times, and you run the risk of offending or irritating your potential new boss, or coming across as arrogant. Instead, say something like ‘I can see myself working my way up in this industry, and eventually specialise in the US development side of the business. Outside of work, in ten years time I hope I will be settled down with a family. I’d also like to run a marathon/learn a language/renovate a house’.

Here, you’ve shown your loyalty to the company, and you’re eagerness to prove yourself in a specific area of their work. By mentioning a family, you’ve shown that you are a well-rounded, settled individual, and by discussing hobbies you’ve demonstrated that you are an interesting person with other things going for you outside of the company. Perfect!

Question: ‘How would you describe yourself?’

Answers to avoid: ‘Hard working/ambitious/punctual’

Of course you’re hard working – that is a given. You shouldn’t be using hard working as your most attractive quality; it should be something that you just do naturally. Ambitious makes it sound like you’re going to come in and try to take over the whole company. Punctual sounds a little dull, is that really the best thing you can say about yourself? Try something with a bit more punch – creative, innovative, dynamic – if you can then go on to demonstrate why you’re those things, you’ve nailed it.

Question: ‘What motives you?’

Answers to avoid: ‘Success/working hard’

Again, these answers are playing it too safe, and more importantly, they probably aren’t true. Answer honestly – if you have somebody in your life who inspires you, mention them. If you want to be specific to work, try to give your answer a little more focus ‘I’m inspired whenever I win a new job/train a new person’ and explain why. This question is trying to gauge how passionate the employee is about this role, so make sure you show this in the interview.

Interviews can be stressful at the best of times! However, with the right preparation you can avoid making any foolish mistakes. Thanks to legalweekjobs.com for putting this list together for us.

Legal Author

Legal Author

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