What is the Worst Thing That You Have Gotten Away With?

Man and woman during job interview
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“What is the worst thing that you have gotten away with?” This is a rare interview question, but some employers ask it in order to get a better sense of your personality, and whether you would fit in with the company. An employer might also ask this as a way to make sure you have not done anything that might be considered a red flag for the position.

This is one of those tricky interview questions. You don't want to say that you never did anything that you have gotten away with, because nobody is perfect.

On the other hand, you definitely don't want your "worst thing" to be something really bad, such as something illegal, unethical, or cruel.

Keep it Light

One way to answer is to keep your response on the light side. For example, you might give an example of something small that you got away with that involves your parents or siblings or school (staying out late, pulling a prank, etc.).

You might also turn the question around and instead provide an example of the “best” thing you got away with. For example, you might explain that you did a good deed for a friend and he or she never found out it was you. However, you don’t want to sound perfect, so you might conclude with a quick, lighthearted example of something more mischievous that you got away with.

Take Your Time

The thing to remember with the tricky questions is that it's fine to take a moment or two to frame a response. Then be honest, relatively speaking, so you are answering the question, but not in a way that would make the interviewer not want to hire you.

Keep your answer – and your tone – as positive as you can. There isn't a right or wrong answer for these types of questions. Rather, the interviewers are primarily interested in how you respond and in the composure and attitude you display while doing so.

Sample Answers

  • I’ve never been much of a troublemaker, even as a teenager. I suppose the biggest thing I ever got away with was a college prank I helped organize and arrange. We turned all of the desks upside-down in every classroom. I love to have fun, positive relationships with my colleagues, although I think my pranking days are over!
  • While this is actually a positive thing, the biggest thing I got away with was helping to arrange a surprise vacation for a sick friend. We planned the whole thing without her finding out until we took her to the airport! Of course, I’ve gotten away with a couple of less positive things too – I’m sure I stayed out past curfew a few times without my parents ever finding out!
  • The worst thing I’ve gotten away with in college was sometimes cutting class the week before midterms and final exams. Especially in large, 400-student lecture classes where attendance wasn’t taken, I often found it was a better use of my time to study the class materials independently at home or with a study group in the library rather than sit in the classroom. I generally arranged things with a group of study partners that one of us would attend the lecture, take good notes, and share them with the rest of the group. We rotated the note-taking responsibility between group members over the course of the term, which allowed us all extra time to cram for the exams.
  • There were times during college – especially towards the end of the year when money was tight – that my friends and I turned dumpster diving into an art form. None of us wanted to explain to our parents (again!) how we’d run short on food money (with me, it was generally because I loved to de-stress by going to out-of-town football games and concerts). So we’d do midnight raids on the upscale grocery store dumpsters and stock up on expired canned food and slightly-wilted veggies. We justified this to ourselves by deciding we were just doing our part to reduce landfill and save the environment. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do – but none of us got bitten by a rat or got tetanus or food poisoning.