7 Failure-Prone Excuses to Avoid in a Job Interview

“All your excuses are lies.”

I didn’t say it first. Jocko Willink did.

…in a podcast interview when asked how to stop making excuses and get things done (Jocko Willink is a retired United States Navy SEAL, podcaster, and author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Extreme Ownership”).

When I first heard it, it struck me that I thought, “Man, that was real talk.”

It struck me that every time I give reasons to myself to justify why I can’t do or finish something, I always remember, “All my excuses are lies. Lies, lies, lies. They’re lies.  I have control of what I do, my thinking, my reactions, my actions, my own decisions, so why am I giving these excuses?

Like today, I initially planned to produce one content per weekend – that was what I committed myself to do two weeks ago. But, something happened last night that took away my focus and energy to write something on a Saturday or Sunday – at least I liked to believed that.

I then told myself, since last night until a few hours before I began typing on my keyboard,

“I can’t write right now. I’m not feeling it.  I’ll do it next week, or tomorrow night when I’m already in the mood.  I just can’t. I just want to relax and watch YouTube videos – Michael Jackson’s videos, Stevie Wonder’s, or Lady Gaga’s rise to fame and over-the-top dresses in Video Music Award nights or what the top 10 Superbowl performances are.

… or whatever that pops up in my Recommended Section on YouTube that catches my attention.

That’s what I want to do right now.”

And of course, I wanted to believe that those are valid reasons for not fulfilling my commitment to myself.

And then I realized, “All these reasons – they’re just excuses. The truth is that I feel a little lazy today, and I don’t feel ideas flow so quickly that I can’t finish writing my draft in one sitting.

This is probably just a minor example of how making excuses prevents one from producing the results he or she wants.

But what about consistent patterns of making excuses on the job that gradually set a person up for failure?

Whether you’re guilty of making these excuses or not, if you’re looking for a job, you don’t want to mess it up, of course.  You want to make sure you market yourself in the best way possible to your prospective employer.

Do you know the classic excuses that you should never say in a job interview with a Corporate Recruiter or Hiring Manager? These excuses can have negative implications on the Recruiters’ perception of you as a candidate.


Here are seven failure-prone excuses to avoid in a job interview:

1. It wasn’t my fault (that I didn’t do my job well).

What might the interviewer think:

“It’s your job, function, role, and responsibility….in which you are paid to do – the reason why you’re on the payroll. Then, you’re saying it wasn’t your fault why you didn’t do or perform well what’s expected of you to do?”

Note: These may vary, of course (as no interviewers or human beings are entirely the same), but be open that Recruiters look for candidates who assume responsibility or accountability for the jobs entrusted to them.  And they’re being trained to spot red flags in all stages of the process and conduct verification for such.

2. It was a bad company.

What might the interviewer think:

“Once you get hired in our company and again decide to look for better opportunities outside, will you also badmouth this company when you apply to a new employer (if you perceive that this is as bad as your current employer)? Are we getting someone that might destroy our company’s reputation and brand going forward?”

3. Nobody appreciated my work.

What might the interviewer think:

“Sure, it doesn’t feel good that nobody appreciates your work.

But, is that enough reason not to deliver results and do your job in which you’re paid to do? What have you done to address such? Have you talked to your Superior or Manager?”

4. My superior was a real jerk.

What might the interviewer think:

“What if your future boss here is worse, will you leave as soon as you know? We’ll be spending resources in hiring, onboarding, and training you; will you leave before the company gets a return on these investments?”

No matter how difficult your current boss is, never badmouth him in front of a Recruiter or Hiring Manager. He might think you’ll do the same when you apply for a new job – the same as badmouthing your current or previous employer.

5. I don’t have time, support, and resources.

What might the interviewer think:

“Sure, and you may or may not experience that here too. There’s no perfect company, you know. Does that mean that you won’t be able to deliver your results as well? Or you’ll leave?”

Signs of ability to prioritize and be resourceful – those are important. Don’t show how bad you are in your ability to manage your time and gather resources you need by saying these excuses.

6. I’m too young or too old.

What might the interviewer thinks:

Sure, so does that mean that will be a hindrance as well?

7. I’m not a job hopper – I’m just getting lots of experience and advancing my career.

What might the interviewer think:

“Okay, but why did you leave your jobs too soon, too fast, and too frequent? How will you get useful experience and advance your career if you leave even before the training and on-the-job learning period end – before being able to contribute well enough?”

An interviewer may look for cues of possible reasons (e.g., you burn out quickly, poor relationships at work, inability to adjust, etc.)

Making lots of excuses for why things didn’t go well may imply a lack of ownership and accountability on your part; first, on the roles entrusted to you and second, on your actions and decisions.

And that may not be the case.  

Avoid such excuses and take full advantage of the opportunity to market yourself better.

For more of the interviewing techniques, hiring strategies, and how to conduct these, contact TALENTLUSH team.

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