How To Answer "Why Shouldn't We Hire You?" In A Job Interview

Man shakes hands with the hiring manager after answering, "Why shouldn't we hire you?" in his job interview

A client in my masterclass this week told me that when she was in an interview, she got asked these two questions: "What do you think would be the reason why we wouldn't hire you?" and "If you eventually got fired from this job, what do you think you would be fired for?"

First of all, those interview questions just stink. But it doesn't surprise me that this level of questioning is coming out right now because hiring managers are feeling the pressure to make sure they hire the perfect person. So they're creating all these questions to try to figure out who's the wrong person to hire.

As crazy as those questions sound, I understand why they're asking job candidates, "Why shouldn't we hire?" They've likely been burned and hired some people who haven't worked out or have been told, "Don't blow it. You better hire the right person." They don't know that asking these questions isn't going to give them that answer.

But if you get asked a question in an interview, you better answer it. Failing to answer questions in an interview will cost you the job. So when you get asked the "Why shouldn't we hire you?" question in a job interview, you must find an answer that isn't too controversial.

How To Answer: "Why Shouldn’t We Hire You?"

"Why shouldn't we hire you?" is kind of a new take on the "What's your greatest weakness?" question. You don't want to do the whole, "Well, my strengths create my weaknesses so if you were to not choose me it's probably because I have too much attention to detail," or "If you were to fire me it's because I said yes to everything and I got overworked." Those answers are not going to fly.

Here's what you need to do instead...

Think about the job and the top five things that are needed to do the job well. Hopefully, you've done your homework prior to the interview. You know what the job description says. You know what the five most important tasks are that you're going to need to do on this job.

Then, take a moment to rank yourself in terms of your ability to do these tasks. They can't all be equal. Say, "I'm strongest at this. Second strongest at this. Third strongest at this. Fourth strongest at this. Fifth strongest at this."

While you're capable of doing the job and doing it well, if you were to rank yourself, the fifth task is your least strongest. By phrasing your response this way, you'll have a fact-based answer to the "Why shouldn't we hire you?" question.

Here's an example of how to answer this question:

"Well, if you weren't to hire me, here's the way I look at it. Based on the job description, these are the five most important things you need me to do in this job—and do well. I'm never going to tell you that I am perfect at all of them and will exceed your expectations. I'm always looking to improve myself. So if I had to rank myself, I would say I'm best at this, second best at this, third best at this, fourth best at this, and fifth best at this. If you're not going to choose me, it might be because you want me to be the strongest at this fifth thing. I can do this, but maybe that's the reason you might not choose me for the job. And if I were to get fired, maybe it's because when I start the job you quickly realize that there's another skill set that's way more important than the five that I just described and therefore you feel I'm not a fit anymore."

That's a very logical answer to the "Why shouldn't we hire you?" question, and it's a way to avoid going down the path of TMI. I see many job seekers being too brutally honest, which is probably what the hiring manager wants, but you don't need to do that. You can give a more objective answer based on the facts if you do a little homework.

Be prepared for this question in a job interview. These behavioral interview questions, these open-ended questions where they want you to tell a story or give more than a one-word answer, are designed to evaluate your personality, your aptitude, and your experience because they're trying to understand if you will actually be a good fit for this job.

You need to brand yourself in these job interviews, but you have to brand correctly. No TMI. You need to get it right. I hope the framework above helps when you get asked "Why shouldn't we hire?" in a job interview.

Good luck, and go get 'em!

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