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5 cliche answers to avoid in an interview

Most of us have been there – sitting across from an interviewer dreading the questions. Those that no matter how much you prepare for, you can never be sure you got them right. You may say you are a big fan of their product. Or mentioned that expertise in a certain popular technology is your biggest strength, without realising that these are the classic cliché answers, the interviewer hears all day.

How you answer the most generic questions in an interview does determine your success rate in the interview. In this article, we will tell you how to avoid the most cliché answers at an interview and how to let your personality and true expertise shine through your answers.

1. Tell us something about yourself

Don’t: Don’t just simply start reciting your resume. Your interviewer already has your resume in front of him, so you need not repeat each and everything. Don’t brag about stretched details of your family and personal life either, that’s not what the employer is looking for.

Do: Instead, focus on areas of your overall personality that pitch you perfectly for the job. Speak more about: your primary qualifications, your key accomplishments and the skills that you have that would be useful for the job you’re interviewing for.

2. What are your biggest strengths?

Don’t: Here, avoid mentioning about your overall personality and strengths in general. Don’t throw a generalised answer to the interviewer like “I am a good team player.” It’s too vague and baseless if you don’t have an anecdote to back it up.

Do: Instead, focus on speaking about that particular strength of your personality that smartly fits the job description. Narrate an incident or build a situation in which you can actually prove your skill. For example, you could speak about your experience in bringing collaboration between co-workers?

3. Why do you want to work with us?

Don’t: The answer to this particular question has to be well structured. Don’t say things like, “It’s a really cool company to work for!” It’s vague enthusiasm, and doesn’t give the interviewer much idea about your level of interest in their organisation.

Do: Instead, you should know that in this question, the interviewer wants to know how much background research have you actually performed before applying for their company. It would be nice to present them with specific details about the company like naming their competitors, speaking about their core competence, their growth level etc.

4. Why should we hire you?

Don’t: This question is usually asked towards the end of the interview, so as to see how well do you fit your own self in the overall job description. Again, making random remarks like “I am really passionate about this job,”or “I am really good at doing this particular task.” etc makes you sound boring and unambitious.

Do: Instead, pick out points from the overall job description and match them to your strengths. Also speak about your key accomplishments which relate to the position you have applied for. For example, you can prove your passion for the job by telling the interviewer about the quantifiable achievements you have had in your previous job.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Don’t: Even if you don’t plan to stay in this particular organisation for a long period of time, don’t show this to the interviewer. Organisations look for employees who are stable and can serve them for long. Also don’t say that you see yourself in the same position as it shows your lack of motivation for growth.

Do: Instead, a smart way to answer this particular question is to speak more about all the things you see yourself learning and gradually climbing up the ladder in that particular organisation. Employers want to see how you can benefit their organisation. So research a little about all the departments and their hierarchy and build your answer around that.


  • Make sure you understand the job description. Ask yourself: does it match your skills and key accomplishments?.
  • Be specific and make sure you support your skill-set with concise and interesting examples from your own life.

Cracking interviews is no rocket science. But rocket scientists probably had to go through an interview too! Just be very careful with your answers and avoid the above mentioned cliché ones as much a possible. If you liked this article, you may also want to look at the 5 ways to stand out in an interview!

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