When you go into a professional interview, the interviewer might ask, "What is your greatest fear?" Behavioral interview questions can be very difficult to answer. You do not want to get caught in a negative response, but you do want to answer honestly. What you are scared of can tell the hiring manager a lot about how you are likely to cope with workplace situations.
Furthermore, the interviewer gets some insight into your character. However, how you deal with your fears is far more telling about whether or not you are a good fit for the position. All of this is important information for a hiring manager as he or she attempts to find individuals who will benefit the company in the future.
Points to Emphasize
If you can, choose a more general fear such as losing a close family member. Interviewers will easily sympathize, but you don't have to reveal too much.
- Emphasize how you overcome your stated fear.
- Be confident in your response.
- State why the fear occurs.
- End on a positive note.
If you are asked about a work-related fear, be honest with the hiring manager, but also try to stay away from negative responses.
You can easily refocus the conversation to your strengths if you discuss how you took an initiative to combat and overcome your fears.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Interviewers ask this question to gauge your confidence and ability to handle obstacles.
Keep this in mind during your response and avoid these mistakes:
- Avoid being too specific unless the interviewer insists.
- Avoid being negative in your response.
- Do not mention failures due to this fear unless prompted.
- Try to avoid a fear that is completely off topic from the interview.
Hiring managers admire honesty, so do not feel like you have to fabricate or lie about a fear. Answer truthfully, but do your best to paint yourself in a good light.
Here is an example of a good answer to the "What is your greatest fear" question:
Public speaking has been a challenge for me over the years. I used to be absolutely terrified of giving presentations, so I started taking public speaking seminars to improve. Now, I still get a bit nervous before pitches, but I've learned how to remain calm and get the job done right.
Remember, this question is as much about how you deal with obstacles as it is about your personal fears. Always try to make it positive and focus on how you've coped with your anxieties.