How to Answer a Pet Peeves Interview Question (With Examples)

Updated 30 September 2022

If you're applying for jobs, it's likely you're investigating how to best prepare for your interview. While interview questions can vary depending on role type and industry, some can be common across sectors, for example, 'Do you have any pet peeves?'. Being prepared to answer this question can help demonstrate your professionalism to a potential employer. In this article, we outline why it can be a common question, discuss how to answer this type of question and provide some sample answers that can help you prepare for your interview.

What is the purpose of a pet peeves interview question?

A pet peeves interview question can help a hiring manager understand your personality and determine how you would operate in their workplace, particularly if you face challenging situations. For example, if your pet peeve is being interrupted while working and you're applying for a role that operates in an open office environment with people working collaboratively, then you may prefer working with a company that offers remote working options.

Another reason hiring managers ask about pet peeves is to help determine how you behave in a work setting and whether it aligns with the company's culture. For example, if the role requires the delivery of tasks against strict deadlines and your pet peeve is following rigid schedules, you may prefer a more flexible position. Rather than 'pet peeves', an interviewer may ask variations of this question to uncover your work process or behaviour in a professional setting. These may include:

  • How do you manage frustrations at work?

  • Have there been any instances where a colleague or manager has done something that has caused you annoyance? How did you handle this?

  • Have you experienced conflict in a previous role? If so, how did you handle the situation?

  • If you're feeling unmotivated at work, what do you do?

Tips for answering 'What are your pet peeves?'

Here are some tips to help you effectively answer this type of question during an interview:

Be prepared

Preparation is an essential element of any successful job interview. As with questions about your experience, skills and education, think about your answer to this question before the interview. Consider choosing a pet peeve that isn't detrimental to showcasing your effectiveness as a potential employee. Try to include a specific example and practise running through the answer a few times, so, if you're asked this question, you're comfortable with how to respond.

Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Maintain honesty

It's important to remain honest in an interview. An open and positive answer can help the hiring manager determine your professionalism and assess your personality. Another good option is to use your answer to demonstrate how you positively respond to something that annoys you, rather than complaining about a pet peeve. This can show the hiring manager that you're proactively looking for solutions and acting to resolve an issue.

Be aware of your tone of voice and body language

When answering this question, try to avoid using excessive passionate language, which may make you seem annoyed or aggrieved about the pet peeve. Instead, try to speak calmly and highlight that annoyances don't stop you from being productive. A key factor in showing your ability to remain calm is being mindful of your body language when talking about anything that may bother you in the workplace. So, try to keep your body language neutral in line with your voice.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

Outline your reasons

After describing your pet peeve, it's a good idea to explain why it bothers you. Providing context as part of your explanation can help the hiring manager understand the situation and how it affects you. Adding context can also help you talk about your values, which can be beneficial for the hiring manager when looking for alignment with the organisation's values.

Related: Core Values: Overview and Examples

Keep your answer short

When answering this type of question, try to stick with a single pet peeve and answer as briefly as possible. By focusing on just one area, you can include specific details and outline how you've handled a particular challenge. It also saves time for questions that require a more positive answer.

Describe how you handle challenging situations

Once you've described your pet peeve and why it bothers you, it can be helpful to explain how you've managed it in a workplace. For example, if you find ambiguity at work to be challenging, discuss how you overcame this by establishing regular catch-ups with your manager to gain clarity. Explaining how you've responded to a challenging situation can help demonstrate how you behave at work. It can also show that you can manage challenges and use problem-solving skills.

Related: How to Overcome Challenges at Work (A Guide And Examples)

Look for an opportunity

Consider how you can use your pet peeve and turn it into an opportunity to demonstrate something positive. For example, use a pet peeve to help demonstrate your work ethic to the hiring manager. You may wish to show your appreciation of habits like attention to detail or teamwork when outlining tardiness as a pet peeve.

Example answers for pet peeves interview questions

Here are several examples of effective answers to this common interview question that you can reference when preparing for an interview:

Example 1

'One of my pet peeves is having my work checked constantly. While I understand managers conduct checks to ensure everyone is on track to meet objectives, being constantly monitored makes me doubt my capabilities. I try to be proactive and send weekly status reports so that my manager can see where I'm up to with tasks that affect the wider team. I find taking a proactive approach reduces the need for my manager to check in with me constantly so that I can get on with my tasks and increase my productivity'.

Example 2

'I can find it frustrating working with colleagues who have a negative attitude. I am a positive person and like to maintain a positive outlook at work, even in challenging situations where it's necessary to look for new solutions. Working with colleagues who speak negatively about their work or workplace can be discouraging, and I also find it very unproductive. To overcome this, I aim to counter any negative claims with a positive one to help shift the conversation to other topics'.

Example 3

'I do tend to get a little annoyed when people at work yell out across the office when communicating because it's distracting. I can find it challenging to focus and it usually results in me taking longer to complete tasks. So I sometimes use headphones, when possible, to remain focused and not get distracted by noise. I let my teammates know why I'm using my headphones and everyone has been very receptive to help me stay focused'.

Example 4

'I get a little frustrated when people are late, as being on time is important for me. I'm always prompt when arriving at meetings and aim to complete any tasks on time. While I appreciate that being late is sometimes unavoidable, I find it disrespectful when others are consistently late. If this is the case, I'll chat with the person and try to understand if there's something I can do to help support them as a first step. If it's an ongoing issue affecting my team, I'll escalate to senior management or HR if necessary'.

Example 5

'As I manage projects, collaboration is important to ensure that we hit our deadlines. A pet peeve is when others aren't contributing, particularly if this has an impact on my team's work. If people don't put in the effort to work together, it can affect the whole team's success. To overcome this issue, I check in regularly with my team and work closely with individuals to establish clear expectations regarding their deliverables. If someone is experiencing issues, I try to look for ways to distribute tasks so that the project stays on schedule'.

Example 6

'I tend to work better when there's structure and order, so sometimes I become frustrated attending meetings without a clear plan. I find meetings without agendas go off topic and result in no clear outcomes. When I'm organising meetings, I always send out an agenda with the meeting invite. An agenda ensures all attendees understand the purpose of the meeting, what we're trying to achieve and how long the meeting will last. That way, everyone understands what we're aiming to get out of the meeting. I find this is a much more productive way to operate'.

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