You’re at a job interview. Everything is going well, until the interviews hit you with the following question: “Why shouldn’t we hire you?”

It’s easy be taken aback by this question. After all, every effort in a job interview is to convince the hiring managers to hire you, not the opposite.

Trick question… 

Well, from the hiring manager’s perspective, that’s one of the reasons to ask the question. Interviews can get a bit rehearsed as candidates put forth their qualifications and past achievements. A slightly startling question is a chance for them to see how you think on your feet.

So partly, this particular gambit is a trick question. First, you have to understand it. Yes, they’re asking why they shouldn’t choose you for the job.

…and opportunity to impress

But it’s important to realize that it’s not only a trick question, too.

The question is another way of asking an old interview stand-by, “What’s your greatest weakness?”

There are two tried-and-true ways to answer both the questions.

Method 1 - Turn the Question Around

The first is to turn the question around, so that you are answering it — naming a weakness — but taking care to name a weakness that employers see as a strength.

The classic answer was always “My weakness is I work too hard,” and then examples of devotion to your job.

Currently, that answer is considered too much of a cliché. But you can still use the same concept by turning the question around and answering with a strength. 

You might answer “Why shouldn’t we hire you?” by emphasizing your devotion to task completion — and de-emphasize another quality that is not important to the job anyway.

For example, you might answer “You shouldn’t hire me if you want someone whose strength is speaking in public. I can do it, as my performance at the XX Conference shows, but I’m far stronger in motivating a team with hands-on methods every day. As my work with the team dedicated to cloud computing showed…”

Method 2 - Overcoming a Weakness

The other way to answer the question is to name an actual weakness. Be careful with this one, though. You don’t want to give interviewers an answer that may make them think twice about hiring you.

Choose a weakness you’ve had in the past that you realized wasn’t working for you, for example, so you worked to overcome it. Or choose a weakness unrelated to your job.

In the first instance, you might answer “You shouldn’t hire me if you want someone who double-checks every piece of data going through the team. Earlier in my career, I was a perfectionist who dotted every ‘i’ and crossed ‘t.’ But as I’ve moved up, I’ve realized the importance of time-management and focus on my tasks. Now I leave the double-checking to the person on the team responsible for that.

In the second, you might answer “You shouldn’t hire me if you want someone who is great at small talk. While I like socializing with new people, I prefer to stick to close associates and my team.”

A staffing agency that works for you

When you are ready to test those interview skills, contact Nesco Resource. We can get you in front of clients for jobs that fit your life and career goals. Find your nearest branch and contact us today!