Career Advice Interview Tips

How to answer: What are your pet peeves? 

Emily Totura
By: Emily Totura
Sep 14, 2020 • 7 min read

How to answer: What are your pet peeves? 

While it’s not one of the most popular questions to get asked on an interview, it might get thrown into the mix because your interviewer is trying to learn what your personality is like and what kind of attitude you will bring to the team. It can be a tough question to answer because you have to share something negative about yourself and then turn it into something positive. This is a behavioral question, meaning your interviewer is trying to learn more about how you handle different situations and how it will impact your job. Everyone has pet peeves—even your interviewer! So, let’s get into how you can answer this question to show your interviewer that you are the best candidate for the job! 

pet peeves

Do some research 

Like we said earlier, the interview wants to see how your personality will fit in this particular working environment. So, you need to understand what the culture is like there as well as the duties you will be responsible for. You can find out about the organization on their website and the job posting. You can even see if there are reviews online or talk to someone who works there. Tip: if you reach out to current employees, this will show initiative and impress your interviewer and potential boss too!

Questions to explore

What’s the culture like? Is it more casual? Do they encourage making teamwork and collaboration? How much freedom do they give employees to make decisions? This is important because let’s say you are applying to work as a barista. One of your pet peeves might be when people take days to respond to an email. While this isn’t a bad pet peeve that will reflect poorly on you, it’s not relevant to the role. Let’s say you are applying for an internship at a corporation. If you say that one of your pet peeves is dressing up, the interviewer might automatically assume that you aren’t a good fit. Doing your research before going on the interview will help you tremendously. You will sound prepared, and it will let them know that you are serious about the job.

pet peeves

Make sure your answer is genuine and positive 

Interviewers have a lot of experience, and they can tell when you aren’t truthful. It isn’t easy admitting something negative about yourself, but as long as you add a positive spin to it at the end of your answer, the focus won’t be on the actual pet peeve itself. Work is stressful, and something will inevitably bother you, so your interviewer wants to know that you can work through problems to efficiently get your job done and work well with others. Saying something like, “I hate working with negative people who don’t work as much as I do” can reflect poorly on you. 

You can say something like, “I try to have a positive attitude when working, so one of my pet peeves is when others around me are negative,” or “I think that feedback is essential to growth, so my pet peeve is when people view my constructive criticism as an insult.” 

Why do these examples work? It highlights the positive. Both of these qualities, positivity and constructive feedback, are important in any workforce.  

pet peeves

Explain your answer and connect it all 

Don’t just end your answer there! Why is this a pet peeve of yours? Maybe in a past position, your employees were always complaining and doing the bare minimum, and this negatively affected your motivation. You might have worked in an environment where colleagues didn’t develop relationships, and you felt this impacted collaboration. Whatever it may be, explain why this is a pet peeve of yours, and make sure it’s relevant to the job. 

You can say, “At my last job, I worked as a sales associate. I noticed that some employees had a negative attitude, and they were not motivated to do any work unless told to. This hurt the overall environment and motivation of the team. I try to remain positive regardless of the circumstances.” 

The art of the “humblebrag”

This answer is more on the positive side and a “humblebrag,” but you might want to give an answer that provides insight to something that bothers you that others might find negative. That’s okay! You just have to make sure that you can highlight critical skills or qualities that are essential to the role. 

For example, “I like to work independently and have control over my work. At my previous job, I learned to make relationships with my managers and show them that I can be trusted. I also had weekly check-ins with them to go over assignments.”

pet peeves

Some final tips 

Keep it simple. You don’t have to defend yourself because we all have those annoyances that can get the best of us. Your interviewer is human and understands. Stick to one pet peeve, and focus on the explanation of why this bothers you, or how it has helped your personal growth. You should also be careful when mentioning a pet peeve that relates to being managed. Saying something about how you don’t like criticism can cost you the interview. Stay calm and positive, and your answer will be effective! 

Check out our other blogs to help you prepare for your next interview, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!

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