Why Great Interview Answers Won’t Always Get You the Job

It’s a mad scramble out there on the internet, with hordes of job seekers all desperately trying to find THE perfect answer for any interview question. If only they could find a website that gives them the key to nailing each and every answer the job will be theirs!

Nice as that would be, unfortunately that just isn’t true. And if a job seeker puts the vast amount of their energy toward that, then they’re missing the real point of an interview. You could answer every single question with what seems like a home run – and still not get the offer.

Are you shocked? It’s true. Here’s why…

The real point of an interview

Interviewers aren’t as concerned with the brilliance of each individual answer as much as how you present them and the total picture they help paint of you. While of course each answer goes into creating the picture, there’s so much more to doing well in an interview.

Interviewers want to see the whole package. Although not every interviewer looks for the same thing and in fact some may look for totally opposite qualities making job search even more confusing, in general they are looking for things like (but not limited to):

  • An ability to tell your story in a way that paints you in a positive light
  • Attitude during the entire interview process
  • Whether you see things as problems or challenges
  • What would you be like to work with on a daily basis
  • Great skills that you know how to apply in the real-world workplace
  • Willingness to learn new things
  • Willingness to take on problems and solve them
  • Knowing how and when to involve others in those solutions
  • Ability to meet deadlines in the face of obstacles
  • Ability to see and successfully implement better ways to get things done
  • Ability to communicate
  • Ability to work with people – especially with different points of view
  • Evidence that you understand work is mainly about the employer’s needs and not just about your individual needs and preferences
  • Lack of potential problems (low maintenance)

So while your individual answers certainly go into the impression you make, it’s not just the words that matter. It’s how you present the words and how you present yourself. And whether they got to see the real person or a bunch of canned answers that you think they wanted to hear.

If looking for sample answers helps you…great. But remember to spend just as much time preparing stories about your work history that show why you are great for THIS job. Also practice talking about yourself and your previous jobs in a natural manner so they can see the very best of who you really are.

And don’t worry…the real you is who they want to see since that’s the person they are going to be working with!

Some articles you might find useful

15 Things I Look for When I Interview People

18 Practical Tips to Help You Ace that Interview

Why Interviewers See Attitude and Personality as Job “Skills”

Help! I Get Nervous When I Interview for a Job

The Single Most Important Thing in Any Job Interview

What Is a Career Story?


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. Great article! When the answers are not genuine, it shows. People need to be ready for the behavioral interview questions. It’s like the essay question instead of multiple choice.

  2. I like that analogy, Marla! Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by.

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