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Answering the Interview Question: "What are Two Examples of Work-Related Tasks that You Do Not Particularly Enjoy Doing?"

Answering the Interview Question: "What are Two Examples of Work-Related Tasks that You Do Not Particularly Enjoy Doing?"

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In a job interview, you will usually want to portray yourself in the most positive way possible. Questions that require you to disclose something negative can induce panic.

It is important to plan for these types of question in case they arise, so you are fully prepared and have a suitable answer to give. This will help you to remain calm and collected, so that you can secure that all-important second interview or job offer.

What Is This Interview Question Really Asking?

Just about every question that is asked at interview stage will be designed to get to know you better and to see if you are a good fit for the role.

The tasks that you do not enjoy in the workplace can give away as much information about you as the tasks that you thrive on.

Tasks are being increasingly automated in the modern workplace. If you are being interviewed for a vacancy, it is because the business wants, or needs, an individual to perform a certain task or fill a particular role, rather than opting to use technology or machinery for the role.

Unlike machines, humans have their own likes and dislikes, their priorities, goals and are able to exercise a degree of autonomy.

By asking you to talk about certain tasks you may have not enjoyed at work, the interviewer may be:

  • Trying to get to know you better
  • Looking for a degree of honesty from you
  • Assessing whether your answer falls in line with expectations
  • Looking for the ‘human’ element in the answer, rather than something rehearsed or generic
  • Wanting to hear examples of how you work or interact with others
  • Judging how well you perform under pressure or react to difficult questions or situations

Asking which workplace tasks you do not enjoy might tie in with the universally disliked, ‘what are your strengths and weaknesses?’ question

How Else Might This Question Be Asked?

The information that an interviewer is trying to glean from asking for examples of work-related tasks you dislike might also be gathered by using similar questions such as:

  • "What tasks do you always find yourself putting off?"
  • "Why do you want a change (of job or career)? What aspects of your current role do you not like?"
  • "What are you hoping will be different about this role compared to your previous or current roles?"
  • "Is there anything you wish you could change about your current job? Why?"
  • "Tell me about two times you overcame obstacles at work"

Should You Prepare for This Question?

If you are offered an interview for a role that you are passionate about and you fail to prepare, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Preparing, in particular for difficult interview questions, can help reduce nerves and anxiety and will boost your confidence.

The question may not arise, or it may arise in a slightly different way, but it is still useful to consider how you might want to answer it.

You can start to prepare by thinking about what ignites your passion at work, then think about the opposite of that – are there some tasks that make you disinterested, uninterested or demotivated? Ask yourself which tasks you tend to procrastinate about or would delegate if you could.

How to Respond to This Question

By the time you reach interview stage, you will have researched the company you are hoping to work for and have an understanding of their mission statement and values. If you can somehow tie your answer to this question into these, the hiring manager will be impressed.

For example, if you are interviewing for a company that you know has a passion for charitable giving, you might want to answer something like:

I disliked filling out the stock sheets at the end of each day after working a long shift and stating any food wastage or spoilage. I did not want to have to discard stock that was otherwise usable when there is a significant homeless population in the city, but legislation forced us to.

This shows that you value compliance but also that you think of others.

Try to qualify any answers you give with a reason why and it is even better practice to also qualify it with a working example.

What to Avoid

Contradicting Information in Your Resume or Cover Letter

Prior to the interview, it is likely that you have provided a resume and cover letter.

Try to answer this question in line with what you have already disclosed about yourself, as far as possible. Contradicting any of the information you gave in your resume or cover letter here might make you seem inauthentic or dishonest.

It is important to be honest during your interview, providing that you continue to come across in a professional and appropriate manner.

Speaking Negatively About Your Past

Avoid speaking negatively about previous employers or colleagues, even if you have had a bad experience, as this is not what the interviewer wants to hear and could portray you as difficult.

Try to remain as positive as possible during the interview, without coming across as disingenuous.

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Providing an Answer That Relates to the Role’s Main Task

Try not to provide an answer that relates to the main task that the role you are applying for entails.

For example, if you are applying for a job as a computer programmer it would not be sensible to say that you hate looking at a computer screen all day.

Similarly, if you are applying to work in retail, it would be unwise to state that you dislike customer service.

Demonstrating You Have an Issue With Authority

It is also important not to give answers that might portray you as having an issue with authority (either taking orders or being directly responsible for subordinate workers).

Lacking Teamwork or Decision-Making Skills

Many roles require teamwork, as well as varying degrees of responsibility within the workplace, so answers such as ‘I do not like making decisions’ or ‘I do not enjoy attending team meetings where we have to share ideas’ are not advisable.

One-Word Answers or Having Nothing Useful to Say
One-Word Answers or Having Nothing Useful to Say

One-Word Answers or Having Nothing Useful to Say

Being able to qualify your answers with reasons that are logical and examples will help at every stage of the interview process. The hiring manager will struggle to sustain interest if you give one-word answers or say that you do not know the answer to a question.

Long periods of silence during interviews can make the atmosphere awkward for both the interviewee and the interviewer, so do try to have something useful to say.

Demonstrating Inflexibility

Most workplaces require a certain amount of flexibility from their employees. This question is a great opportunity to mention how adaptable you can be.

For example, you could change ‘When I was a receptionist, I hated answering the phone all day’ to:

When I was a receptionist, I did not like having to field calls all day because it meant I had to put off doing other important tasks. I knew I had to answer the calls because it was important not to leave customers waiting; some days I wished we had more people working on the switchboard. Although it did give me the chance to learn to multitask.

This is an excellent answer because it explains why you disliked the task, why you realize the task had to be done and what it helped you to learn.

Tips on What to Do

  • Be positive and honest.
  • Give answers in context.
  • Try to qualify answers with examples.
  • Talk about your goals – for example, ‘Previously I did not enjoy this, but in future I hope to do it differently/with a different team/with a new outcome’).

Tips on What Not to Do

  • Give an answer that relates to the main task in the role you are applying for.
  • Speak about present or past workplaces or employers in a negative way.
  • Try to pretend you enjoy every single task you have ever done at work.
  • Stay silent or say you do not know.
  • Try to avoid giving answers that are too rigid; good workers are able to adapt.

Certain tasks are routinely disliked among workers. These tend to be those that are especially boring or laborious, or those that arise from conflict or difficult situations.

When highlighting these kinds of tasks as ones that you do not enjoy, it is important to acknowledge that they are an important and necessary part of certain roles and how embracing them, or overcoming your dislike for performing these tasks, might even help you to grow as an employee.

Some examples of tasks you might want to discuss include:

  • Paperwork
  • Stock-taking
  • Cold-calling
  • Dealing with customer complaints
  • Resolving conflicts between colleagues
  • Negotiating system failures or technical problems
  • Cleaning
  • Answering emails

If you are being asked for two examples of work-related tasks that you do not enjoy, you will need to decide whether you want to give two entirely separate answers, or combine two related tasks into one answer, providing that your answer makes logical sense.

Sample Answers

I disliked working the closing shift because for the last half an hour I was alone in the building cashing up and I had safety concerns about this. The business wasn’t in the best neighborhood and the parking lot was not well lit. I did like the level of responsibility I was trusted with, plus it felt great that the management entrusted me with such an important task.

Luckily nothing bad happened, but I do hope for the next person they enhance security protocols. I am really looking forward to the nine-to-five shifts here and I love how safe the building feels with the key-card entry system and someone always manning the front desk. It is very important for all staff to feel safe at work.

This answer gives a clear and honest explanation that makes sense and does not sound too negative towards the former employer. It also provides context using a working example. It concludes with a statement showing a positive attitude towards the new workplace and empathy for colleagues. The answer suggests a candidate that is sensible, caring and a team player.

When I was an admin assistant, I really disliked the repetitive nature of all of the forms I had to fill in at the end of each week. Now I have the opportunity to work as an office supervisor, I appreciate the attention to detail that goes into doing these tasks properly and I realize that it taught me vital skills. If it is possible, I may look into assigning this task to different team members, so they can all share the responsibility and work together. I want everyone in my team to know why their role is important and I do not want anyone to feel bored. I will make sure my workers feel valued.

This shows confidence and that you are looking to the future. It also shows that your experience as an entry-level worker is informing your approach to a supervisory role, which is indicative of someone that will be a good manager.

One task I really disliked was cleaning down and taking out the trash at the end of the day. I understand the importance of hygiene in the restaurant, but I could not believe how much waste was going to landfill each day. I talked to my boss about getting separate receptacles for items that could be recycled such as glass, paper cups, soda cans so there was less waste, but the company thought it wouldn’t be cost-effective for us to spend time separating things out. I’m excited to work for a company with a greener ethos.

This answer comes across as clear and honest. It also demonstrates that your principles align with the green values of the company you are applying to.

Final Thoughts

It is not unusual for employees to like some elements of their role more than others and, while these functions are often integral, they might feel tedious and repetitive.

Just because an interview question asks about something negative about a former job role, or an aspect of your approach to work, does not mean you cannot frame your response in a positive way.

These questions are often an opportunity to talk about how you have evolved as a worker, the way your work ethic has changed or how much you are looking forward to a new challenge.

Your past experience as an employee will likely inform your future plans in the workplace, so try to use these types of interview questions as an opportunity to talk about your ambitions and your enthusiasm for the job you are interviewing for.

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