'Why Should We Not Hire You?' Interview Question Examples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When a hiring manager or recruiter conducts an interview, one of their main goals is to get to know their prospective employee. Interviewers may try to accomplish this by asking challenging questions to see how a candidate responds, such as, 'Why should we not hire you?' Learning how to address this question may be useful to you when preparing for a job interview. In this article, we explain why employers ask the 'Why should we not hire you?' interview question and explore several steps to help you prepare for it.

Why might an employer ask the 'Why should we not hire you?' interview question?

An employer or hiring manager may ask a version of the ‘Why should we not hire you?' interview question because it helps determine how quickly and honestly a candidate can respond to an unexpected question. Businesses and hiring organisations often conduct interviews to find out the candidate's strengths, so this question may seem like it's designed to mislead you. Often recruiters ask this question not to confuse you but to offer you the opportunity to give an impressive answer to a non-typical question. This tactic is useful for interviewers as it helps them distinguish character differences between candidates.

Related: Preparing for an Interview: How to Do it and Why it Matters

How to answer 'Why should we not hire you?'

Here are some steps you may take to prepare for this question if someone asks it during an interview:

1. Conduct research on the employer

A helpful first step when preparing for this potential question is to research the organisation for which you're applying. Company websites, job search sites and online forums are useful avenues to gather information about the organisation's goals, values and job expectations. This information can help you determine what the hiring manager wants in a candidate, which you can use to prepare your answer.

After researching a company, you may discover they strongly value effective teamwork, and the job you're applying for involves mainly group projects. Knowing this can help you frame your response in the following way. For example, you might respond, ‘If you're looking for someone who can work independently, you may want to consider another candidate. I'm someone who thrives in team environments and gains satisfaction from working collaboratively and helping others succeed.' This response answers the question sincerely by sharing a weakness, but it also communicates how your work style aligns well with the company's culture and expectations.

2. Choose a specific weakness

Another way to approach this interview question is to choose a specific weakness you can elaborate on. When selecting your weakness, you may want to think of one that's inconsequential to the job. It can also benefit you to consider a weakness that you can expand on with a work-related anecdote. This allows you to tell your story and provide details that support why you chose this weakness. As you form your anecdote, try to conclude by demonstrating how the experience guided your professional development.

For example, if you're applying for a writing job that requires you to work independently, you might choose public speaking as your weakness because it's unlikely to affect your ability to perform the job. You might construct your anecdote in the following way. For example, you might say, 'One of my professional weaknesses is public speaking. In a former job, I was responsible for giving group presentations once a month, during which I would often stumble over my words from nervousness. I enrolled in public speaking classes to address this, and these classes helped me build confidence and improve my oral presentation skills.'

Related: List of Weaknesses: 8 Things to Say in an Interview

3. Be honest and professional

While it's important to be honest during an interview, staying mindful of how you're presenting yourself can be just as crucial. For example, if the interviewer asks why they shouldn't hire you, and you respond with 'I work too hard' or 'I care too much', even if this is true, it can come across as disingenuous. The interviewer may also interpret this as an inability to think without preparation or as an avoidance technique.

Because interviewers typically read a candidate's resume, the interview is often more about evaluating a candidate's personality rather than their experience or education. This is why it's beneficial to come across as genuine during an interview. Even if you respond with something small, such as explaining how you're often absent-minded in the mornings, keeping your response honest and professional can serve you well in an interview.

Related: 8 Signs You Will Get the Job After an Interview

Example answers for 'Why should we not hire you?'

Here are some sample answers that may help you prepare for an interview question about your weaknesses:

Example 1

Below is an example of a candidate who is applying for a remote copywriting position. The job offers flexible working hours, so the candidate describes being unproductive in the mornings as one of their weaknesses. This can be a good weakness to choose because it addresses the question yet doesn't impact the candidate's ability to perform the job. Here's how it might sound:

‘I sometimes take a while to start my day as I'm not much of a morning person. Even since my time in high school, I always preferred doing my work in the afternoon and evening over getting up in the early morning and forcing myself to stay awake. I purposefully arranged my schedule at university so that my earliest classes weren't until after 11am. Since entering the workforce, I've been lucky enough to find jobs with flexible schedules, like this one, where I can work on my own time and get the rest that I require.

I know that there are benefits to starting your day early, but I've found through trial and error that I do my best work in the afternoon and evening. Not only do I work significantly faster, but the quality of my work is much higher than if I had done it without enough sleep. In fact, I wrote what would become the highest-rated article of the quarter while at my previous job, which I completed during late evening hours.'

Example two

The following example is a candidate who is applying for an entry-level marketing position. The weakness they share with the interviewer is their lack of confidence, which results in consistently seeking feedback from colleagues before submitting work. This chosen weakness may be effective because it shows the interviewer the candidate is attentive and values high-quality work. Here's the example:

‘I sometimes overthink my creative decisions. This mainly manifests as me seeking validation from colleagues, especially from those in positions higher than mine. I never want to submit any work without getting a second opinion, even if it's from someone with very little marketing knowledge or experience. I almost prefer having non-professionals critique my work as the public is the intended audience for most, if not all, of our campaigns.

In the past, I've held back from more experimental, innovative concepts in my work based on the fear that the public would misunderstand its intentions. Luckily, I had a great team supporting me at the last agency I worked for who encouraged me to express my artistry through my work. I became more confident with my unique concepts and pitched them regularly during team meetings and as part of our weekly proposals. While I still value getting second opinions from my colleagues, supervisors and outsiders, I also feel more comfortable with the integrity of my original content.'

Example three

Here is an example of a primary school teacher who has difficulties following curriculum guidelines. What makes this response effective is the candidate turns their weakness into a strength by explaining how they often deviate from sample lesson plans and instead develop material that's more personalised to their students' needs. For example:

‘I sometimes work outside a strict set of guidelines. As a Year 3 teacher, I often spend a lot of time exploring the creative potential of the job. I want my students to feel excited when learning, so I often stray a bit from the pacing guides and sample lesson plans that the administration provides. Instead, I focus more on active learning principles, where my students can learn by doing instead of watching me lecture. I want them to leave my class with a love for learning and a wealth of new knowledge.

Sometimes the children become uninterested in the resources the administration give us. While they focus on the technical aspects of lessons, which are important, they often omit the creative applications of these concepts. I believe my job is to encourage my students to find their passions, and I feel I accomplish this when I incorporate my own ideas into projects and lessons. I value the input of the administration, but I also value my abilities as a teacher and take my responsibility of preparing these students for the real world seriously.'

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