At the end of the day, job interview is a sales talk. We try to present ourselves in a best possible light, emphasizing our strengths, and trying to conceal our weaknesses. We want to get a job, so why would we tell the hiring managers something they do not necessarily have to know?
A big mistake we made in our last job, two jobs we were fired from before, and decided to not include them on our resume, or just a simple weakness we have, and are aware that it will make things difficult for us in the new job with their company. Or perhaps some personal thing (such as having a love affair) which does not shed the best light on our character…
You certainly do not want to talk about these things in a job interview. But what should you do, when they directly ask you? Let’s have a look at some good answers to this question. Do not forget to check also my notes below the answers, because they will help you to pick the best possible answer for your interview.
7 sample answers to “Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know” interview question
- If it was possible and right to do so, I would conceal some of my former jobs from you. I had too many of them, and can certainly look like a job-hopper--and I have perhaps even been one up to this point. But as you can see, I mention many jobs on my resume–all I had, even for a month. This is great company and I am sure you will do your background check and research. What’s more, it would not be ethical to hide something from you. It’s my past, I am not particularly proud about the fact that I had five different jobs before reaching my 25th birthday, but that’s how it is, and I do not want to lie either to you or to myself.
- Speaking honestly, I do not think there is anything I’d prefer you not to know about me, as long as we discuss professional matters. Just like everyone else I made some mistakes in my professional career, and I have my share of strengths and weaknesses–like any other employee. I can admit these things, and believe that I learned from my mistakes. No need to hide anything from anyone. Certainly there are some things I did in my personal life I am not very proud of, and if you knew about them, you might change your opinion about me. But honestly I see no reason to discuss them in the job interview.
- I’d prefer if you didn’t know about my problem with stuttering. But it is not something I can hide, can I? Trust me, this communication problem made things difficult for me several times–in the interviews, while dating women, with friends, and so on. I try to get rid of it, bu it’s not easy. However, I honestly believe that when people get used to my communication style, they won’t find it hard to understand me in work. Still, I’d prefer if you did not know about this weakness. Or at least that you would not take it into account when deciding about my job application. But of course that’s not something I can control.
- Maybe that I struggled a lot with motivation in my last job. But you will likely call my former manager to ask for feedback on my work, so you will find anyway. But I would prefer you not to know, not because I want to hide anything. I just do not want you to make a wrong conclusion based on these things. Sure, I struggled a lot in that job, and did not deliver the results my managers expected. But that’s not the entire story. What my former managers do not know is that I was experiencing a particularly difficult period in my personal life, and could not really focus on work. Hence my low motivation and poor results… Now, when I finally solved the problems I had faced in my personal life, I believe to be ready to be a completely different employee. I hope to enjoy my work again, and deliver great results.
- It would be better if you did not know that I applied for the same job with three other companies. But I have to tell you, because I want to be honest with you and not play any games. Look, your company is my second choice, and I really like what I’ve seen and heard here. But there is one place where I’ll interview in a few days, a place that I heard excellent things about. If they decide to offer me a job–which certainly isn’t guaranteed, I may refuse your offer. That’s how things are and I know that I am risking by telling you this, because you can refuse me and I may fail in the other interview and eventually end up without any job offer. But I want to be honest with you, and that’s why I am telling how things are at the moment, how I see them.
- Well, I would want you to not know about my weaknesses. I really want this job, and try to present myself in the best possible light. But you are an excellent interviewer. All the questions you gave me, plus the practical exercises I had to complete, certainly tell you everything about my personality, strengths and weaknesses. Here I am, standing naked in front of you (speaking metaphorically of course), with everything good I have to offer, and everything bad I have to and want to improve on…
- There’s no such thing. Integrity sits on the top of the list of my personal values. I prefer you to know everything about me, to be able to realistically consider whether I fit in this company, whether I am the right match for the job. In my opinion, it makes no sense to play some drama in an interview, to try to hide things–from either side. Because once we experience tricky situations in the workplace and have to step out of our comfort zone, we won’t be able to hide anything anymore. And I’d have to leave, or you’d have to terminate my contract… That’s not a good situation for anyone. That’s why I prefer to conceal nothing from you in this interview.
Explain them that you learned your lesson
If you decide to reveal something extremely negative–perhaps you changed many jobs and concealed the fact on your resume, or you stole something in your last job, or achieved poor results on an ongoing basis, you should always ensure the interviewers that it is in the past.
You made a mistake, perhaps many of them, and you paid your price. You lost your job and maybe also your freedom. But now you are ready to start with a clean sheet. You’ve overcome your demons, and won’t repeat the mistakes from the past.
You can bet on integrity
You can also say there’s no such thing. And why not? The last thing you want to is get fired after a month in the job, just because you hid something crucial on your job application, or didn’t tell the truth in the interview about your strengths or qualification.
It would not be good for anybody… Surely, you would earn a bit of money, and perhaps delay your problems for a few months. But it would also be another unsuccessful employment on your resume, something that definitely doesn’t help with your job search in the future. And you do not want to end up in this vicious cycle forever.
What’s more, employer would also pay the price. They would have to repeat the entire hiring process with someone else (perhaps with more candidates), and would lose time and money in the process. Since you are aware of these things, you see no reason to conceal anything in the interview. See sample answer no. 7 as a good example of demonstrating this attitude.
* Special Tip: “Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn’t want me to know” isn’t the only tricky question you will face in your job interview. “Why shouldn’t we hire you?”, “Tell us about an obstacle you overcame”, or “Describe the biggest failure of your career” are just some of the tricky questions common in the interviews nowadays. If you want to make sure that you have an answer ready for everything they may throw at you, check our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to over 100 tricky interview questions will help you streamline your interview preparation, outclass your competitors, and get the job you want to have. Thank you for checking it out!
Praising the hiring managers is another interesting option
You’d love to hide something from them, but they are too good. They are grilling you with their scenario-based questions and practical tests. There’s no way to hide anything. Once your interview ends, they will know about all your strengths and weaknesses.
Surely, you may try to play your game, doing everything within your powers to make the best possible impression on them. That’s just how things go in the interviews. But you know your efforts will end in vain, and you praise the interviewers for their skills and ability to uncover your weaknesses.
Everyone loves words of praise. Give your interviewers some recognition, and they may even forget about some of your weaknesses.
Ready to answer this one? Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- Describe your best boss and worst boss.
- How do you think I rate as an interviewer?
- What challenges are you looking for in a position?