3 Reasons Why Saying You’re a Perfectionist is Killing Your Interview

Carlee Nilphai
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While paying close attention to detail is a desirable skill, employers are done hearing any candidate utter the words “I’m a perfectionist.” Whether you’re listing perfectionism as a strength or a weakness, you’re not doing yourself any favors by using the term. Here are three reasons you should never again mention that you are a perfectionist.

1.  Employers are tired of hearing it.
Simply put, saying you’re a perfectionist doesn’t make you sound special. Employers have heard every other candidate claim the title in every other interview, so even if you do think you have a problem with perfectionism, don’t say it. Everyone has actual strengths and weaknesses - instead of coping out and going with “I’m a perfectionist,” take time before the interview to think about what strengths you have that would make you a good candidate, and at least one genuine weakness accompanied by a reason why you think this job will help you grow out of that.

2.  It makes you seem like you take a long time with projects.
It’s common knowledge that perfectionists can be difficult to work with because they have trouble completing anything unless it feels absolutely perfect. If you mention that you are a perfectionist in an interview, it can sound like you take a long time to finish assignments due to a need to make it flawless, which isn’t efficient or productive in the workplace. An interviewer who is seasoned knows how to look for the negative aspects of every strength and weakness, and perfectionism has easy-to-see issues.

3.  You can sound over-rehearsed.
Employers want people who are genuine, and anyone who says they are a perfectionist can sound very robotic or over-rehearsed. Again, there isn’t anything unique about people who say they are a perfectionist. Using the term just makes you seem like you are repeating whatever the Google search for “what to say in a job interview” comes up with.

If you have previously stated you were a perfectionist in a previous interview, your career isn’t over. From now on, try saying that you can be overly critical as your weakness, but soften the blow by saying your strengths are working in a team, that you take constructive criticism very well, and that you are an efficient worker.

Good luck with that next interview!


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Rich M thanks for your comment. It's true that you don't always know what the hiring manager "wants" to hear. All you can do is answer truthfully. Why try to tie yourself up in knots to answer a question the way you "think" the hiring manager wants it answered. He's not hiring himself - he's trying to hire you. So honesty is always the best policy!

  • Rich M.
    Rich M.

    What if you do everything right and just be yourself? Half the time you don't know what they're looking for in a answer. What about if you say "I do the best that I can" or is that same? How do you know what standards they're looking for? In the way of assembly(parts or preparation of), wouldn't you want them to fit correctly? I know that if they are off a tiny bit, that will throw the whole thing out of kilter. As far as the interview, I've learned that body language is very key and how you sit or stand tells a lot about who you are. I try to "read" the questions they ask to give the right answer, but sometimes that doesn't work. It's hard to tell what direction they're going in.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Frank W thanks for the comment. At least you know you aren't alone in using the word "perfectionist". But now that you know how that word is received, you won't use it at another interview! As suggested, find another word that you can use to describe yourself. Good luck on your next interview!

  • Frank W.
    Frank W.

    Thanks for the input on this. I can't remember how often I've used this term only to find out later that, I didn't get the Job!

  • Ashery V.
    Ashery V.

    OK I think you are right, you do not. have to copy things just be your own. Leave it to the interviewer to decide whether you are perfect or not and in reality there is no such person as a perfectionist

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