“What tasks do you least enjoy doing?”
This has to go down as one of the more difficult interview questions you could face in a job interview.
How do you talk about things you don’t like doing while also maintaining appeal as a potential employee?
We’ll break it down in this article.
Variations Of This Question
This question can the phrased in a few different ways, so don’t be thrown off if you hear a slight variation.
These are the possible variations:
- What tasks do you not enjoy doing?
- What are your least favorite tasks?
- What things do you not enjoy doing?
- What tasks do you hope to avoid doing?
- What about this job interests you the least?
- What is the least satisfying part of work?
Know The Lead Up Questions
The “what tasks do you least enjoy doing” question can come at any point in your interview, but it typically follows questions of a similar nature.
These are the possible lead up questions:
- What is your philisophy towards work?
- Can you describe your work ethic?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- How would you describe your personality?
- Can you describe a challenge you overcame?
What The Interviewer Really Wants To Know
The interviewer first wants to know if you can answer honestly, and not try to sidestep the question.
Nobody enjoys every aspect of their work, that’s just the reality of life. Any candidate that says otherwise is probably lying, and being caught lying in an interview is a pretty quick way to lose a job opportunity.
(Lies have their place in a job interview, but this isn’t one of them.)
While trying to gauge your character is important, they also want to know if you’ll be a good fit for the position on offer.
If you’re someone who dislikes being chained to a desk all day, but the job requires a large amount of time in the office, they’ll know right away that putting you in this role isn’t beneficial to either party.
Finally, this is a high-pressure question, so it allows interviewers to see how you cope in high-pressure situations.
It’s very direct, has immediate negative connotations, and is notoriously difficult to wriggle out of unanswered. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s doing exactly what it was designed to do.
How To Answer: “What Tasks Do You Least Enjoy Doing?”
We’re going to break down the “perfect” answer into three stages:
1. Name Some Tasks
It only takes a few jobs under your belt to know what tasks you typically enjoy doing, and those you don’t — so this part should be relatively straightforward.
However, if you have limited work experience or just can’t think of anything, try brainstorming some day-to-day tasks you least enjoy doing, then look for areas where they overlap in a workplace environment.
For example, if you’re an introvert who avoids talking to strangers, you’ll most likely hate cold-calling and sales.
Here are a few more ideas to get you started:
- Manual labor
- Answering phones
- Data entry
- Kitchen/food prep
- Statistical analysis
Note that these are fairly general tasks that could incorporate dozens of subtasks, so it doesn’t hurt to be a bit more specific if possible. By doing so, the risk of naming a job-conflicting task is significantly reduced.
2. Explain Why You Dislike Them
After naming your tasks, you’ll need to explain what makes them unenjoyable.
Try to give reasons most people can identify with or at least understand, so your “complaints” don’t reflect poorly on you as a candidate.
In most cases, it’s also wise to avoid mentioning a lack of skill when it comes to your least favorite tasks. This question isn’t necessarily designed to uncover your weaknesses or flaws, so don’t go out of your way to give them up.
Here are some example reasons using the same list above:
- Manual labor: “My body gets sore after too much heavy work as I have a physical impairment.”
- Answering phones: “I prefer not sitting all day without getting at least some degree of physical activity.”
- Driving/delivery: “I’ve had some bad experiences with cars, so I prefer to avoid tasks that require me to operate a vehicle.”
- Data entry: “It’s tedious and reptitive work, and I find that I’m far productive on more challenging or creative tasks.”
- Kitchen/food prep: “Kitchen environments can be frantic. I prefer to work in a more organized setting.”
- Statistical analysis: “I did a lot of analysis work in my previous position and would like to broaden my skillset moving forward.”
3. State Your Willingness To Do It Anyway
To wrap up the answer, clarify that while these tasks aren’t your favorite, you are, have been, and always will be willing to do them anyway.
This is important for two reasons:
- It shows that you’re willing to put your own dislikes/discomforts aside to benefit the company, when and if it’s required of you. This is desirable personality trait in any employee, so use this opportunity to highlight it.
- If you happened to mention a task that is somewhat relevant to the role you’re applying for, even to a small degree, this part can potentially undo some of that damage, and prevent you from ruling yourself out of the job.
You don’t need to go overboard with this commitment, either, just a simple clarification will do the trick.
Something like this will work:
“Even though these are my least favorite tasks, I wouldn’t hesitate to carry out any of them if the job required it.”
Putting It All Together (Example Answers)
These sample answers use the structure we’ve outlined above:
Example #1: Cold Calling
“I’m not a big fan of cold calling.
I have no problem talking to strangers, or even taking inbound sales calls, but I know from experience I’m not comfortable selling to people who have no idea who I am or why I’m calling.
Nobody likes being cold called, and I don’t enjoy being that person on the other end of the phone. Some people really go out of their way to let you know how much of a nuisance you are, and it can start to bring you down.
With that being said, I’ve done my fair share of cold calls and even closed a few high-ticket deals in my previous job, so it’s not a task that’s completely out of my wheelhouse if I’m needed for it.”
Example #2: Filing
“Filing paperwork doesn’t excite me very much.
Most of my work is creative in nature, it’s where I take the most pride in my what I do, and it’s also where I excel most in terms of productivity. General filing and paperwork just doesn’t get the juices flowing.
Of course, I understand this is sometimes a necessity in any role to maintain organization and structure, so I make sure to stay on top of it.”
Example #3: Driving
“I used to work for a company that had me in a jack-of-all-trades type of role, and they would occasionally ask me to do deliveries.
I was involved in a pretty scary car accident at a young age, and while I do have my driving license now, it took me a long time to build up the courage to get behind the wheel and pass my test.
While I’m perfectly capabale and willing to operate a vehicle at work, it’s certainly low down on my list of favorable tasks.”
How NOT To Answer
Mistakes can happen in job interviews, but being aware of potential pitfalls ahead of time can prevent the worst of them.
Here’s what you need to watch out for:
Avoid Naming Tasks That Are Critical To The Job
You should try to avoid naming any tasks that are pertinent to the job you’re interviewing for.
Not sure what they are? Study the job ad. Most job listings will TELL you what they’re looking for, including skills, qualifications, and expected duties.
Failing that, just apply some common sense.
If you’re applying for a kitchen staff position, don’t tell them you have an aversion to cleaning and taking out the garbage, because those are likely going to part of your duties (even if they weren’t listed).
Be honest, but be selective about it.
Don’t Talk Poorly About Ex-Employers
Don’t bring up instances of tasks you “had to do” because your former employer forced it upon you.
You’re well within your right to resent previous employers, but this isn’t a therapy session, this is a job interview.
Putting the focus on how you were poorly treated in the past misses the point of the question, and it prevents you from giving a well-rounded answer.
The question is about you, so keep it that way.
- Learn the different variations of this question
- Familiarize yourself with the most likely lead up questions
- Name a task (or two) you find least enjoyable
- Avoid naming tasks that will be expected of you
- Explain why you don’t enjoy those tasks
- Clarify that you’re able and willing to do them anyway