Good, Bad, and Ugly Answers for Interview Questions By The Early SNL Cast And Others

saturday night live logoYou may have already received plenty of advice on how to provide answers to interview questions, the right way. However, you still need to know what it looks like when you step in it, so you don’t make a fatal interview mistake.

The question is, where can I find examples of good, bad, and ugly answers? Below you will find examples, sourced from quotes by original cast members of Saturday Night Live, and a few other contemporary comedians.

Interview Question: “Describe one of your potential weaknesses, and how that can impact your work.”

Answer by Steve Martin: “I've got to keep breathing. It'll be my worst business mistake if I don't.”

Pros of this answer: Steve provides a witty and unique response that shows he has a sense of humor. Some interviewers will be satisfied with such a response, though a more serious response may still be ready as a follow-up.

Cons of this answer: For an interviewer without sense of humor, this answer could come across the wrong way. Then again, if you were Steve Martin, you may not want to work for someone who lacks a sense of humor.

Interview Question: “What makes you different from everyone else?

Bill Murray’s Response: “I think what I'm saying is that sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?”

Pros of this answer: Bill shows great confidence and a sense of humor. He projects a work ethic that he will take care of whatever might happen.

Cons of this answer: Obviously, curse words won’t fly in an interview. Bill also fails to provide examples highlighting how he took care of business in the past, nor is he specific about what makes him uniquely capable of taking care of business.

Interview question: “What do you think of our...?”

Answer by Billy Crystal: “I've seen worse... It just so happens that your friend... here is mostly dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.”

Pros of this answer: Billy sees the opportunity for improvement, and later suggests a remedy, which in an interview context could create a very positive impression on the interviewer.

Cons of this answer: The strong negativity in his message could turn off a person who is personally invested in the hiring organization. The answer also makes Billy appear like a know-it-all who knows more than the interviewer.

Interview Question: How would you describe your leadership style?

Gilda Radner’s Response: “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.”

Pros: Gilda very nicely articulates a clear management message and approach. The interviewer generally knows where she stands. She highlights her clear ability to adapt to changing situations.

Cons: Despite clearly articulating her approach and highlighting a strength, Gilda suggests a significant gap in her leadership, planning, and ability to address challenges proactively. Even for people like her who work best in the moment, it’s important not to create such a large gap in skills.

What makes you different from everyone else?

Dan Aykroyd's response: “You look at the floor and see the floor. I look at the floor and see molecules.”

Pros: Dan uses strong visual imagery, which makes his answer memorable. His answer is also unique and provocative.

Cons: Dan's answer is obviously vague and isn't tied into the specific job that he is pursuing. However, in a creative or problem-solving field, offering such a clearly distinct perspective on the world could be advantageous. With an added example or two, this could be a good answer.

Tell me about yourself.

Eddie Murphy's response: "I've always had confidence. It came because I have lots of initiative. I wanted to make something of myself."

Pros: Eddie highlights his work ethic, which is valuable in any field. He also seems confident and motivated.

Cons: Eddie could also speak to his future goals and aspirations, what pushes him to keep going despite his success.


Read 6376 times Last modified on Thursday, 24 March 2016 12:03

Alan is the creator of Interview Success Formula, a training program that has helped more than 40,000 job seekers to ace their interviews and land the jobs they deserve. Interviewers love asking curveball questions to weed out job seekers. But the truth is, most of these questions are just asking for the same key pieces of information. Learn more about how to outsmart tough interviewers by watching this video.