With all the creative ways applicants are approaching interviews these days, why risk falling flat with worn-out clichés? Too often, interviewees will revert to old tried answers that the interviewer has likely heard many a time, either out of nerves or a lack of a better response. But the problem with these approaches is that they’ve been done before—extensively. And with the wide range of unique skills, talents, and experiences each individual candidate has, giving these answers can make you seem unoriginal or disingenuous.
In order to come up with an original answer that will wow your interviewer, you need the right mix of research, preparation, and honesty. After researching the company thoroughly beforehand and becoming familiar with interview best practices, all that will be left is a dash of your honest experiences and self-assessments. Whatever you do, just make sure to steer clear of these overused answers:
The Question: How do you work with others?
The Cliché: “I’m a team player/people person.”
When an interviewer asks you this question, they expect you to give them a positive answer—what sets you apart from others, however, is how you word that answer. Calling yourself a “team player” or a “people person” no longer cuts it, and often, is seen as overdone and lazy. Instead, recount a story for the hiring manager about how you overcame a challenge by working as a part of a team.
The Question: What’s your greatest weakness?
The Cliché: “I’m a perfectionist/workaholic.”
This is probably the most common and overused interview answer. Interviewers understand that this is a tough question, but it’s intended to be; as a result, giving an answer like this will prove to the interviewer that you haven’t given one of the most canonical interview questions a thought prior to meeting with them. Instead, be honest. Think about your greatest professional weakness and find a way to spin it into a positive, just like the first person who came up with this answer did.
The Question: Where do you see yourself in five years?
The Cliché: “In your chair/position.”
Not only has this been said before, it’s assumptive and aggressive. Rather than take this dangerous route in hopes of introducing a bit of humor to the process, take this question seriously. Try formulating an answer ahead of time using these tips to get you started.
The Question: How would you describe yourself?
The Cliché: “I’m a hard worker/detail oriented.”
Being a hard worker is important to any position, and in many cases, you’ll see “detail-oriented” as a requirement on a number of job listings. But that doesn’t mean you should use these terms to describe yourself. These terms are best demonstrated through your work ethic, organization, and dedication—all of which you can show by being a successful interviewee. Like with the question about your greatest weakness, being honest here is key.
The Question: Why do you think you’re right for this position?
The Cliché: “I’m the perfect fit for the role because…”
This is also an assumptive answer based on your limited experience with the company and the position you’re applying for. Sure, you might have the qualifications listed on the job posting, but have you met your possible future team? Completed any of the tasks that will be required of you? Gotten a true feel for the company culture? If you haven’t had an in-depth experience with the position and the company you’re interviewing for, which most interviewers don’t have so early on, this isn’t a safe answer. Instead, highlight your best strengths and describe how they would help you accomplish the tasks at hand.