How to Answer the 'Why Should We Not Hire You?' Interview Question

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 4 November 2022 | Published 2 May 2022

Updated 4 November 2022

Published 2 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.

Interviewers ask several questions to determine whether candidates are suitable for their company. They may search for candidates whose values and working styles align with their organisation's culture. Knowing how to respond to the interview question ‘Why should we not hire you?' can help you to succeed in the interview. In this article, we discuss why employers ask this question, highlight steps you can follow to respond to it, give tips you can use when planning an answer and list examples you can refer to when crafting your response.

Related: What to Say in a Job Interview (With Examples)

Why do employers ask the 'Why should we not hire you?' interview question?

Hiring managers may ask this interview question to understand various aspects of your character. First, they may want to evaluate your strengths and your weaknesses. The question provides the employer with a suitable opportunity to discover how you view yourself and whether you acknowledge your shortcomings. Second, it helps them evaluate how you handle different situations. A favourable response can help you seem confident and honest, making it easier for you to acquire the position for which you applied.

Related: Interview Question: “What Are Your Strengths and Weaknesses?”

How to answer this interview question

It can be easy to answer this question once you've understood it. You can follow these steps when crafting the answer to the question, 'Why should we not hire you?':

1. Review the job posting

Read the job advertisement again to discover the necessary qualifications and job responsibilities of the position. Note the skills and qualities you may require if you assume the role. You can try to relate the skills listed for the job with the skills and qualities you have.

2. Research the organisation

Understanding the values and operation of the company that you're applying to can make it easier to formulate a viable response to the interview question. You can try to connect your answer to the company's standards and mission. You may also include how you can help them achieve their business targets.

3. Connect your background with the position

You can explain how your work experience and skills are suited for the advertised position. Mention how your values align with the qualities the role requires. You can also tackle each requirement separately and include any additional reasons to demonstrate your suitability for the job.

4. List your achievements

When you can, try to quantify your achievements, so the interviewer can measure how you contributed to your previous job. Being specific about your accomplishments can help you seem honest and confident about your abilities. Use your answer to link your performance with the job's requirements.

5. Be unique

Consider any special skills you possess and elaborate on how you can apply them at work if you get the job. You can mention any experience or qualities you have that make you an outstanding candidate. For example, if you're applying for an IT job, you can mention that you completed a course on statistical analysis while working at your previous job. You can then explain how you can solve unique problems with this skill.

Related: How to Succeed in a Virtual Interview

Tips for creating a suitable answer

Here are some tips you can use when preparing to answer this question:

Be honest

You may have a weakness that you'd like to mention. Mentioning your shortcomings can make you seem realistic and confident. It also shows the employer that you understand your abilities and know where to improve. You can add how you intend to overcome your weakness in your response.

State your weakness

You can answer this interview question like how you would answer ‘What's your greatest weakness?' Try to mention your weakness without discrediting your application. You can state shortcomings that aren't relevant to the job description. Frame your response to highlight skills and qualities essential for the position.

Related: How to Write a Follow-Up Email After an Interview

Sample answers to this question

You can use the following examples to help you prepare your answer:

Example 1

Review this example to learn how to answer the question in a sales manager interview:

'If you're looking for an introverted employee, then you probably shouldn't hire me. I enjoy engaging with others and building relationships at work. I use my social skills to create professional connections with my colleagues and potential clients. My experience in sales has taught me how to relate well with others and make any product seem impressive.

There was an incident where two employees argued in front of customers at my previous job. I intervened by convincing them to take the discussion to my office. I then made a light-hearted joke, reducing the customers' tension. After we resolved the issue, I assigned projects to the two of them to work on together to improve their relationship.'

Example 2

You can use this example if you're an engineer preparing your answer:

'If you're looking for someone who only uses traditional methods in their work, then I may not be a suitable candidate for the position. I enjoy discovering new ways to solve problems. The skills I find most useful as an engineer are my innovation and creativity. My passion and curiosity can sometimes lead to using more time perfecting new methods, but are rewarding in the long term.

Your company has invested heavily in research and wants to develop more efficient automotive designs. My supervisor tasked me with designing an engine that cuts harmful emissions by 10% in my previous job. I spent a few months doing research and implementing the model. My employer recognised my efforts by awarding me at the company's award ceremony and promoting me to senior engineer.'

Example 3

This sample answer can help you in an IT specialist interview:

'I may not be the right fit for the position if you're looking for someone who only sees the big picture. In my work, I'm a perfectionist and believe in the importance of details. My thorough nature has made it easier to be effective in my job. I could spot the most minute errors, which prompted the company's management to promote me within my first two years as an employee at my last job.

Once, a security issue compromised several of the company's confidential files. I developed a program to detect and eliminate any harmful software. We removed the virus and restored the system's security within an hour. I received a company award for my efforts.'

Example 4

If you're applying for a teaching position, this example can help you prepare:

'If you're looking for someone the students can fear, then I may not be the right candidate for this position. I believe that empathy, compassion and kindness are a teacher's best tools. I try to use understanding and encouragement when working with my students. During the first year of my employment there, I focused on identifying my students' weaknesses. I used this information to implement teaching strategies that helped each student overcome their shortcomings.

It took a significant amount of time and effort, but yielded amazing results. My class was also the most active in co-curricular activities. I attribute my success to the principles I uphold in my work. I think my tolerant approach aligns with your institution's values and non-violent standards.'

Example 5

Use this sample response to prepare your answer for an accountant interview:

'If your ideal candidate is a person who quickly proposes solutions to problems, then I may not be a good fit for your company. I like to work through problems carefully, so I can devise the most efficient solution and detect any errors in my work. My keenness has helped me spot the most elusive mistakes in company accounts and design effective strategies to correct them.

I remember an incident at my last job where one of our department's interns entered wrong values into the system. The system shut down and required some confidential accounting information from the previous year to restart it. We used my records because most of my colleagues hadn't stored their passwords and procedures for the prior year. My manager praised me for my organisational skills and gave me a bonus.'

Related: How to Complete a Written Exercise During an Interview

Example 6

You can use this example when interviewing for a marketing manager position:

'I may not be the right person for this job if you're searching for a candidate who works alone to achieve company goals. I love collaborating with my colleagues on different projects. One of my talents is mobilising others towards a common goal. In my last job, I helped implement a marketing campaign that doubled customer subscription rates within a month. I also created a small team focused on growing the company's client base and exceeded our estimated target. We increased our client base by 32% within six months. My manager promoted me to assistant manager for my efforts.'

Example 7

Use this sample response to rehearse your answer for a bus driver position interview:

'If you want an employee who drives very fast and arrives earlier than expected, I may not be the right fit for this job. I prioritise safety in my work. I follow all the traffic rules and make responsible decisions, even in challenging situations. I have several years of experience as a driver and can reach a destination by using alternative routes.'

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