Most Dangerous Job Interview Questions and How to Avoid Them

By Brittany Loeffler on March 24, 2019

The best thing you can do before going for an interview is to research and practice the job interview questions that may be asked. You have already bypassed the hundreds or even thousands of applications submitted to the job posting. Now you are ready to meet with the company face to face and answer some job interview questions.

Getting ready for a job interview can be intimidating, especially when you know there are dangerous job interview questions that can trip you up and cost you the job. While it may seem unfair for a job interviewer to try to trick you into answering job interview questions incorrectly, it is important to stay informed and try your best to avoid them.

job interview questions

via Unsplash

Can You Tell Me About Yourself?

After you’ve chatted about the weather and your trip into the office, this is the first question many job interviewers like to ask. This question may seem easy enough to answer. You are the only person who can answer this with the complete truth. However, this is not a chance for you to tell the job interviewer about your personal life or brag about your achievements in high school and college.

How to Answer

The best way to answer job interview questions like this one is to keep the focus on the type of person you are professionally. Talk about your work ethic and achievements in your career. You can talk about your goals and how you made it to where you are now. Keep in mind that the interviewer does not necessarily care about the sports your play outside of work unless they have a company softball team maybe.

How Did You Prepare For This Interview?

If you take away anything from this article, it should be this: always prepare and research before going in for an interview. You never want to go into a job interview blind and not know anything about the company and what they do or how they affect the industry. The job interviewer will ask this question because they want to know that you are the type of person who can take initiative and is serious about being prepared for anything. They do not want to hire someone who plans to go into a meeting without thoroughly preparing and researching the topic.

How to Answer

Skip telling them that you looked up dangerous interview questions to avoid or practiced in a mock interview. Instead, tell the interviewer what you researched about the company. Browse the company website, social media, recent news articles, and LinkedIn profiles of executives and managers. Don’t be afraid to throw in some impressive facts you learned while doing your research.

job interview questions

Infographic by Brittany Loeffler

Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Job?

Employers are curious about why you want to leave the job that you currently have. Why is it not enough for you? Essentially, they are trying to see if the position you are interviewing for is the right fit for you as well as for the company.

How to Answer

You may absolutely hate your job and the people you work with, but the job interview does not have to know that. Instead, frame your answer in a way that makes it sound like this new position will better fit your needs and help you advance in your career better than your current job.

Never badmouth your boss or current company. The interviewer will become rightfully concerned that you could badmouth their company if they choose to hire you. While you may have some unkind things to say about your current job, say “My values do not match up with theirs” or “I’m looking for an environment that better matches my work ethic.”

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

This is one of those job interview questions that you can’t just answer on the spot. You need to think about this question while preparing for the job interview. Companies do not want to invest time and money into an employee that does not plan to stick around for very long. They would rather hire someone who plans to stay at the company and hopefully advance in their career within the company. Remember, the job interviewer is looking for an answer about your professional career rather than your personal life. So, keep those dreams of a family or buying a house out of your answer.

How to Answer

This is one of the job interview questions you will have to tailor your answer for. The best way to answer this question is to let the job interviewer know that you see yourself in a higher position with more responsibilities within the company. Name some achievements you would like to make within the next five years professionally and let them know how you think their company can help you do it.

Do You Check Your Email While On Vacation?

A job interviewer will ask this question for two reasons. The first is to see how dedicated you are to your job. The second is to see if you implement balance for your personal and professional life. While most companies want an employee with both balance and dedication, some companies do require their employees to be at attention at all times, even if they are on vacation. The type of company that requires this would be a startup or small business that is putting in a lot of work because they do not have the infrastructure in place yet for an employee to go off the grid for a week or two.

How to Answer

The best way to answer this question is to sprinkle in a little dedication and balance. Let the job interviewer know that while you are completely invested in your job and are dedicated to work being done on time and correctly, you do prioritize your life and try to find a balance. Let them know that if something is urgent, you are happy to work on it. However, when you are on vacation, you may read your email to stay in the loop for when you return.

What Are Your Weaknesses?

This is one of the trickiest job interview questions in the book. You can almost always expect this question to be asked, so make sure you are prepared will a killer answer. Do not try to get away with, “I’m perfect. I have no weaknesses,” because job interviewers know that is completely untrue and it shows that you do not admit fault. They want you to recognize that you do have weaknesses and how you overcome them.

How to Answer

The best way to answer this question is to make your weaknesses seem like strengths. The most common answer is, “I’m too invested in my work.” While it is overused and sounds corny when you say it now, it is a great example of how to answer the weakness question. Another way to answer the question is to be honest and admit to your weaknesses and how you take responsibility and work to fix these weaknesses in the workplace.

How Do You Handle Difficult Situations?

It is inevitable that problems and difficult situations will arise in the workplace. Whether it is a disagreement between coworkers or a mistake that must be fixed, it is important that employees can handle these situations in a professional and productive manner. The interview asks these types of job interview questions to gauge if you are capable of solving a problem in a mature way that will not hurt relationships within the office.

How to Answer

When you answer this question, talk about how you would handle a situation. Whether it is by confronting the person or sitting down with a superior to talk about a solution, it is important to show that you are willing to admit fault and work to find a solution to the problem. If you have experience in the past showing how you solved a problem at work, whether with a coworker or account, make sure to mention it as it is a great example of how you solve problems.

job interview questions

via Unsplash

Do You Work Better Alone or With a Team?

Employers want to know how you work best. So, they will ask job interview questions about whether you work best alone or in a team. This is a trick question because they want someone who can do both. Try not to fall into the trap and say that you work best one way and not the other.

How to Answer

Working as a team is extremely important in the professional world. Very rarely will you work completely by yourself in a corporate company. So, when answering this question, let the interviewer know that you work well both on your own and in a team during the right circumstances. Talk about how you enjoy collaborating with a group and bouncing ideas off of each other. Also make sure to mention that when working by yourself, you are able to focus better and can be extremely productive.

What Are Your Salary Requirements?

The main reason anyone has a job is, of course, to make money. When it comes to job interview questions about salary, you have to tread lightly. The job interviewer may ask how much you made at your last job or how much you expect to make in the position you are interviewing for. Do not give them a number. If you do, you may name a price much below what they were willing to give you and lose out on that money.

How to Answer

Instead, put trust in them that they are offering the position at market value. Let them know that you are open to negotiating and trust that they pay well for their employee’s skills. Do not be afraid to negotiate your salary with the company if they give you a job offer. Many employees take their salary at face value and lose out on a few extra dollars because they were afraid to ask for more.

What Do You Do in Your Free Time?

This may seem like an odd question to ask during an interview. It has nothing to do with your professional career and the job you are interviewing for. So, why should you expect to be asked this question? While a company wants to hire someone who is qualified for the job and will bring value to the company, they also know that you are a person outside of the office. This question gives the interviewer a better sense of who you are as a person and if you would be a pleasure to have working in the office every day.

How to Answer

This is your chance to talk about your personal life. Talk about your hobbies and activities you participate in. If you do volunteer work, make sure to mention it and what kind of role you have in the organization. You want to show your interviewer that you are a well-rounded person and focus on more than just your career.

When You Don’t Have an Answer

There are some job interview questions that will completely catch you off guard. Remember that it is okay to take a moment, breathe, and think about your answer before blurting it out. There is no shame in taking a few seconds to really think your answer through before responding to the interviewer.

How to Avoid Dangerous Interview Questions

Always prepare for a job interview. This includes research and planning out your answers to dangerous job interview questions. The most common question that can make or break an interview is “What are your weaknesses?” Make sure you have a good answer that showcases how your weakness is also a strength and how you own up to your mistakes and can find solutions to your weaknesses.

The best way to answer these dangerous job interview questions is to be honest while also keeping the objective of the company in mind.

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