Three Deadly Mistakes When Answering Common Job Interview Questions and How to Avoid Them

No matter what the position or the company, there are certain types of job interview questions that seem to pop up with amazing frequency and consistency. They may seem innocuous, irritating and even irrelevant, but they may also just be the questions that make or break your interview. Learn what mistakes to avoid when these types of questions pop up.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Job interviews invariably get around to questions about your greatest strengths and weaknesses. The biggest mistake to avoid when composing your response to these questions (keeping in mind that words other than strength and weakness may be used) is that the interviewer is actually interested in the specifics. How to make a killer response to these job interview questions? By knowing they are coming and being prepared to reveal a keen self-awareness about yourself. Point to specific strengths while displaying examples of how you are developing those strengths. Give specifics on your weakness while providing examples of how you are committing to overcoming them. Deadly mistake: being vague.


Almost every job interview will eventually lead to questions that ask you to provide examples of when you tried something and failed. The first mistake to avoid is focusing on what happened. Briefly describe the facts of the failure and then focus on the process of learning why it happened and what steps you took to make sure it never happened again. Deadly mistake: not giving concrete evidence that you learned how to do something successfully as a result of failing.

What Famous Person Do You Admire?

Here’s one of those job interview questions that is a minefield. How can you possibly answer this question without the potential of making some kind of mistake? What if you admire someone the interviewer finds offensive? The possibility of choosing the wrong hero is not the deadly mistake you need to fear unless you choose someone who is genuinely horrifying. The much more dangerous path through this minefield lies in the area of the why rather than the who. Avoid sounding like you got all your information about this admirably famous person from Wikipedia or episode of “Biography” on the History Channel. Try to find some bit of surprising biographical trivia about the person that the interviewer didn’t know about and then explain how that fact either sparked your imagination or stimulated you to action. Deadly mistake: providing no context and insight into the qualities you admire.

The best way to avoid making these deadly mistakes and others? Prepare your answers in advance and practice, practice, practice!

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