Job Interview Question & Answer: What Is Your Greatest Fear?

What You Need to Know

A Scary Question
“What is your greatest fear?” serves as one of the trickiest questions an interviewer may ask. The question puts most applicants on the spot, as few prepare for the uncommonly posed inquiry. Even candidates who anticipate the question struggle with finding the right answers, as interviewees want to provide satisfactory responses without reflecting weakness. To shed the fear of encountering the question, applicants need to prepare quality answers before the interview.

Why Do Interviewers Ask It?
Interviewers use the question to understand what a candidate wants from the job. For example: if someone fears being stuck in a position with no chance for growth, the interviewer understands career development stands as a top priority with the candidate. An interviewer may also use the less-common interview question as a way to test candidate levels of preparation for the interview or ability to think up responses on the fly.

What To Avoid
Stay away from off-base responses with no relevance to the workplace. Though talking about fears of clowns or being trapped in an elevator may add some humor to the interview, the answers sidestep what interviewers look for with the question. Stick to answers which relate to work, your skills, or career aspirations. Avoid providing a fear which the interviewer may interpret as a hindrance to your ability to perform the job. If applying for a team member position, avoid saying something like, “My fear is to work in an environment where the mistakes of others can slow down my productivity.” Though the response may reflect your success-driven nature, responding in such a way casts candidates in negative light.

How To Answer
For the best response, choose a fear relating to not finding career fulfillment. Interviewers want to hire candidates with passion for success, and the question gives you a shot to remind the interviewer of personal drives for career advancement. Applicants may also answer the questions by providing a fear which does not closely relate to the role applied for. For example: if the job does not require presenting in front of large groups, you may discuss a fear of public speaking.

No matter what candidates choose to offer as fears, answer the question with confidence. Interviewers like to see applicants able to tackle any question with poise and self-assurance. Stating, ” I am afraid of failure.” makes applicants sound unsure of your skills, but remarking, “I am afraid I won’t reach the level of career success I am after,” paints candidates as possessing high aspirations.

Example Answer
“With my amount of experience, I don’t have any fears of the things I do on the job. I’m not even afraid to pick up duties that I’ve never had before. I love a challenge. My biggest fear is that I may pick up responsibilities which may change my role and set me off track from reaching my career goals.”

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