"What Would Be Something That Would Make our Company Hesitate and Not Hire You?”
By Joanne Richard
If you’re lucky enough to snag yourself a job interview, you have to be prepared for some tough questions, even a few tricky ones. Employers are looking to weed out candidates, to trip you up and send you in the other direction.
So answer me this: “What would be something that would make our company hesitate and not hire you?”
Say what? You never meet deadlines. Have terrible road rage. You hate authority. Or maybe humble brag that you’re a perfectionist but working on it. Should you be serious, glib or entertaining? Tread carefully because what comes out of your mouth can crush your chances of landing the job.
No matter how stress inducing the question, stay calm and keep smiling. It’s okay to take a bit of time to pull your thoughts together, it’s not okay to choke with an ‘I don’t know.’ While there is no way to anticipate some of the quirky questions being asked today, remaining cool and demonstrating that you can think on your feet will definitely win you points. You have to expect the unexpected.
It’s always a good idea to have a handle on the more common questions asked and practice responses beforehand so you’re not stumbling over the easy ones, and can easily neutralize the tough ones.
Use any question as an opportunity to flaunt your creativity, critical thinking, communication skills and confidence, as well as your resiliency and how you overcame obstacles in the past. You want to be engaging, confident and honest. But just how honest? Be too honest and they won’t hire you.
We reached out to career coaches to find out how to answer just why a company should hesitate to hire you – so you don’t hesitate if ever asked this question.
“I am not aware of anything about me that would make your company hesitate to hire me. From what I know of the company and the position I believe that I match all the mandatory and desired criteria.”
- Bruce Sandy, executive and relationship coach @brucesandy
“If you discovered my secret life as a serial killer it may undermine my strong points.”
“If you found a candidate that could provide more value for a lower salary.”
“I can’t imagine someone as smart as you hesitating to hire someone as smart as me.”
- Steve Siebold, mental performance coach @Siebold
“My handsome good looks might cause you to think I don’t have the skills needed,” or “based on my resume, you might think I’ll get bored with the position but I assure you I won’t because of (xyz)...” Let them know your skills and show how you’re a great fit.
- Marsha Egan, executive coach @MarshaEgan and success strategist at marshaegan.com
“Well, that’s a great question but I’m stumped on that one. I can’t imagine why an employer like you would hesitate to hire a candidate like me. Here’s why I think you should not hesitate to hire me...” Then reinforce a few key points that relate your experience, fit, and passion for the role. Make sure you convey this with the right tone, gestures to demonstrate a lightness and authentic intent.
- Eileen Chadnick, leadership coach @chadnick
“I only use three colors in a big box of crayons...” Then explain your value using those three colours as bullet points.
Or,“I treat everyone the same. I hear many leaders play favourites or fail to value inclusion. That is not what I do.” Follow up with an explanation of how you value diversity and inclusion.
- Monica Wofford, executive coach @monicawofford
Highlight one of your biggest strengths, for example: “I have a tendency to be very outspoken and share my opinions and ideas. I am not a yes-woman. So if you are looking for someone who holds their tongue and doesn’t openly contribute, I am not right for the job and you should hesitate to hire me.” What you want to do is to emphasize an outstanding strength, whatever that may be for you, with the idea that if they don’t want this from an employee, then you won’t fit their culture anyway.
Or, highlight an area of weakness, plus what your plan is to fix it. For example, a candidate might say: “I have a tendency to be very outspoken and share my thoughts and ideas all the time. And in general I think this is a strong characteristic. However, I have been told I need to learn the skill of listening more. So I am working on a plan to become a better listener, and it looks like this…”
- Katie Bennett, executive coach @dbdcoaching
Whatever you do, do not respond with an “I don’t know.” It lacks discipline to think, creativity and it’s lazy. If you want the job, put in the effort.
Many interview questions seem like “wolves in sheep clothing” so candidates get caught up by over-thinking their answers. The results range from rambling to answering the wrong question to disclosing too much information and sabotaging your interview, says Dana Manciagli, global career expert @danamanciagli
This question is a good example of that. “Candidates may feel the need to call out a weakness from the company’s job description. In other words, if their job description says ‘must have an MBA’ and you don’t, you might highlight this gap. But don’t do it!”
This question is simply identical to “What are your weakness?” or “What are your areas for improvement?” The interviewer is looking to see if you are self-aware and can share your shortfalls as easily as boast about your strengths. By the way, you should boast about your strengths!
Stay away from any answer that provokes doubt. While there are myriad ways to instill doubt as a candidate, the most damaging would be any answer that reveals a crack in the candidate’s confidence. “To stay in the running for the position, a candidate needs to believe there is no reason a company would hesitate in hiring him or her,” advises executive coach Monica Wofford.
Next contender for the best worst answer to this question is the one that reveals a tendency to take oneself far too seriously, or obviously a real list of reasons why they should hesitate, adds Wofford.
The bottom line: You want to convey clear competency and confidence. The easy answer is that you are the best person for the job.