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16 August 2023

The ten most disastrous answers to interview questions witnessed by KPI Recruiting employees

The ten most disastrous answers to interview questions witnessed by KPI Recruiting employees

We’ve all had a terrible interview experience, usually triggered by getting the answer to a question horribly wrong, which then puts us off track and the interview on the wrong course.

Here are the top ten most disastrous answers to interview questions as witnessed by KPI Recruiting staff.

  • Interviewer: “Thanks for coming in to see us today. I presume you’ve had a read about us as a company and what we do?”

Candidate: “Yes, I’ve always wanted to work in Greggs as I love chicken bakes. Do you bake them here?” 

Interviewer: “We’re a recruitment agency and you’ve applied to be a trainee recruitment consultant?”

Candidate: “Sorry, I got my interviews mixed up!”

We’ve all been there: you’ve applied for a million jobs and the interviews are all merging into a blur. It’s always worth a quiet 5 -10 minutes before the interview to relax, focus and remind yourself which job you’re up for next before every interview.

  • Interviewer: “What is it you like to do in your spare time?”

Candidate: “One of my favourite hobbies is to dress as a woman, I just love the attention.”

Cross-dressing is absolutely not a crime, and, so we are told, quite good fun. But an interview is probably not the place to share it as a hobby – it’s a bit early for that. And the second half of the answer is a definite red flag for most interviewers. Attention junkies tend to make good strippers, but that’s about it.

  • Interviewer: “Why do you want to work at KPI?

Candidate: “Because my dad told me to get a job.”

Relying on your parents for guidance is generally a good thing, depending on your parents. But using it as a reason to choose a job is not one to share in an interview as it doesn’t show a lot of, shall we say, self-motivation?

  • Interviewer: “Why did you leave your last job?

Candidate: “Because my boss was a bossy d*ckhead.”

Even if your previous boss was a total nightmare, bad-mouthing them is an absolute no-no: it’s as likely to paint a poor picture of you as it is your old manager. “I struggled with their management style” is a better way round this. Keep your answer factual rather than emotional.

  • Interviewer: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Candidate: “Being a full-time mum to at least 3 kids.”

Being a mum is the most important job in the world, but this answer is unlikely to endear you to someone interviewing for a permanent position. Make your answer one that focuses on your career.

  • Interviewer: “Hello, you’re through to Chloe, how can I help?”

Candidate: “I would like a job please.”

Interviewer: “Great – can I ask where you’re located so I can see if we have work in your area.”

Candidate: “In the UK.”

Whether you’re in a face-to-face interview, on the phone or on zoom, giving accurate, detailed information in your answers is crucial. Short, woolly, generic statements like this answer just make the interview hard work for the interviewer and make it less likely for you to be successful.

  • Interviewer: “Can you share a weakness?”

Candidate: “I lose my patience with incompetent people.”

Being truthful is a good quality. But being brutally honest has its drawbacks and answers like this make people look intolerant and inflexible. If you must share a weakness, make it about a nonessential skill (and not a character trait) that you’ve managed to improve, i.e. “I could do with a bit more training on Excel/Asana/PowerPoint/Hootsuite, etc.”

  • Interviewer: “How do you organise yourself in a fast-paced environment?”

Candidate: “I just embrace the chaos.”

Chaos is definitely not a word to use when asked about your organisational skills, even if you can embrace it. Jobs are faster moving now than ever before and being able to manage multiple projects is a key skill in most careers. Use words like, ‘prioritise’, ‘co-ordinate’ and ‘finalise’ when talking about organisational skills.

  • Interviewer: “Can you tell us what you know about KPI Recruiting?”

Candidate: “I was hoping you could tell me all about it?”

Knowing something about the company you are being interviewed to join is a pre-requisite for success. You should assume that you are going to be asked a question like this: if not, feel free to share what you know in a question of your own. Not doing research on a business you are about to join is like buying a house without having a survey done: you never know what’s round the corner.

The final question is one from a candidate twenty minutes before an interview:

Candidate: Can I postpone my interview please? 

Interviewer: Why?

Candidate: Because my hairdryer has just blown up and I’ve still got wet hair.

We’ll let you come to your own conclusions about this one.

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