Every once in a while in a job interview, you get asked a question that you can’t answer. Nothing springs to mind. You freeze up, and then you spit out something you’ve heard a dozen times before. It’s usually a safe, vague, easy answer that doesn’t actually mean anything. Next, you observe your interviewer pinching his or her lips together and making a little note on a clipboard, leaving you with the sinking feeling that you just blew it.
It’s perfectly natural to rely on clichés when you can’t think of anything else to say, but in a job interview, it can really hurt you. Make sure you avoid the following, and challenge yourself to think of a better answer:
“I’m a perfectionist.”
People often turn to this answer in response to questions about their greatest weakness. Unfortunately, it’s been used so many times and in so many situations that to many interviewers it no longer feels like an answer at all. Your interviewer may interpret this as “I can’t identify or talk about my weaknesses,” which isn’t going to help you land the job.
“I’m a team player.”
No candidate with any self-interest is going to admit to not being a team player, so telling an interviewer this doesn’t tell him or her anything at all. It’s important to get across that you work well as part of a team, but you need to demonstrate it by giving examples of how you’ve helped a team in the past, not just by making an unsupported assertion.
“I’m willing to do anything.”
Saying this makes you sound desperate, and it’s usually not a true statement. Rather than portraying yourself as someone who’ll do whatever it takes to get by, tell the employer the reasons you’re excited about the job you’re applying for.
“I work hard.”
Employers like having hard-working employees, but they like having employees who get results even better. At the end of the day, no matter how hard you work, you won’t keep your employer afloat unless you actually accomplish something. So focus on what you’ve achieved rather than on how much work you put into your job.