Job Interview Question: Pet Peeves

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An employer might ask the question "What are your pet peeves?" for a couple of reasons. Your answer will help the employer determine if you would be a good fit within the company culture. For example, if you say you are bothered by team projects, and the job involves a lot of collaboration, this may not be the position for you. Your answer will also show the employer how easily irritated you are. If your answer is a long tirade of lots of things that annoy you, you may appear to be an unpleasant person to work with.

This question might seem difficult because it asks you to speak about things that annoy you, which could lead you to sound negative or disagreeable. However, when answered thoughtfully, this question can help demonstrate why you are a strong candidate for the position.

Avoid Negativity

There are a few ways to successfully answer this question. No matter how you answer, avoid sounding negative. Whatever pet peeve you choose to mention, downplay how much it bothers you. Avoid using extremely passionate language that will make you seem annoyed or disagreeable. Speak calmly, and make it clear that whatever it is that bothers you does not prevent you from doing your work or getting on with your day.

How to Answer

Some people prefer to answer by saying they have no pet peeves at all. However, this answer might come across as insincere, because everyone is bothered by something. A better answer will focus on something that does not bother you very much, that can control, and that does not reflect poorly on you as an employee.

One way to answer this question is to focus on a pet peeve that is unrelated to the job (for example, your pet peeve might be people who do not use their blinkers when they drive). This kind of answer will keep you from saying something negative that is related to the job.

You can also describe a pet peeve that is related to the workplace, and that would be a negative for the job. For example, if the job involves a lot of teamwork, you might say your pet peeve is when a person cannot effectively work with a group. However, be sure to explain then how you would deal with that situation.

You might also turn this question around, and emphasize your work standards. For example, you might say that you dislike when people do not push themselves to go beyond the bare minimum, so you are always pushing yourself to achieve the best results on any project.

Sample Answers

  • If you asked my teenage daughter, she would probably tell you my pet peeve is the volume of her music and the mess in her room. However, I do not have any other specific pet peeves. If something is bothering me, I step back, analyze "why,” and find a good solution.
  • I do not like when people have negative attitudes, particularly in the workplace. I like to remain positive, even during a difficult situation, and do not let people’s negative attitudes affect me.
  • I dislike when I see a team member refusing to carry his or her weight on a project. As team members, it is our job to help the whole team achieve success. When I see someone not doing his or her task, I communicate clearly and effectively with the team about my concerns and try to come up with a solution, such as redistributing some of the tasks.
  • One pet peeve is when people are regularly tardy. My son is always running late for school, so I have been struggling to instill timeliness in him. Timeliness is also extremely important in the workplace. Whether it is simply showing up to work on time or handing in an assignment by a given deadline, I am always prompt.