5 Lame but Common Interview Responses

If these are in your interview repertoire, remove them immediately!

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Alison Green
Hiring managers hear these five unimpressive statements from job applicants over and over. A few of them are actually recommended in some job-seeking guides, much to the detriment of job-seekers. If these are in your interview repertoire, remove them immediately!

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1. "I'm the best qualified person for the job." This one is almost always used in cover letters, not in person, and those who say it are usually wrong. More importantly, it reeks of ego and naiveté. I don't want to feel like you're doing a hard sell. From my side, the hiring process is about an honest assessment of whether you're a good match (because I don't want to have to fire you later). Hyperbole just gets in the way.

2. "Right now, I'm not as concerned with salary and am more interested in learning about the position and your needs." Really? Unless you're independently wealthy, I doubt you really mean this. But in any case, I'm concerned with salary, even if you're not, because I don't want to waste my time or yours if our salary expectations are in wildly different ranges.

[See how much interview follow-up is too much.]

3. "I can't think of any real weaknesses." Did you really have no inkling that this is something you should be prepared to talk about in an interview? This doesn't make you look good. You look unprepared, or lacking in self-awareness, or just unwilling to have an honest discussion about your fit for the job. It's a terrible answer. I think fairly highly of myself, and there are still hundreds of things I could rattle off at a moment's notice that I'd like to be able to do better.

4. "I'm a perfectionist." Similar to "I work too hard," this is one of the phony weaknesses that candidates think they can offer up. It screams "fake answer" and makes you look disingenuous.

5. "I don't have any questions." You're talking about the place where you might spend half your waking hours, and you don't have any questions?

Unsurprisingly, the common denominator in all of these is a lack of genuineness. Hiding who you are in an interview may get you a job, but it's unlikely to be one you're a good fit for, since the person they hired isn't who you really are. Being more upfront about who you are will land you a job where you're exactly what they want--and that's what you're after.

Alison Green is the author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Leader's Guide to Getting Results. She is chief of staff for the Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit lobbying organization, where she oversees day-to-day management of the staff as well as hiring, firing, and staff development. Her writings have been published in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Maxim, and dozens of other newspapers. She blogs at Ask a Manager.