Sunday, August 3, 2008

Follow up on the Interview Weakness Question

A few weeks ago I made a reference to a posting about handling the weakness question in the interview. I also addressed the issue in my blog at Secrets of the Job Hunt where Judy Smyer shared the following comment;

Comment by Judy Smyer
Are you a great match for the position? Are you confident you can do the job? If so, that pesky 'weakness' question creates an opportunity. It opens the door for you to confirm your belief that the job plays to your strengths.

You can back that up by a) demonstrating how you will help the organization achieve its objectives, b) giving a pertinent example of one of your professional accomplishments, c) listing your consistent areas of achievement, or d) reviewing your qualifications as they compare to the position requirements.

If pressed by an unskilled interviewer who feels the need to wring a ‘weakness’ confession from you, then by all means don’t fall back on the ‘cheesy’ workaholic answer.

If you feel you have to toss a ‘weakness’ bone, be creative. Although you must be authentic and be yourself - a job for which you are uniquely qualified! - you’re never obligated to say anything negative about your product (you).

As mentioned in Marcie’s post, you might pick a minor professional area that’s not essential to the position in which you are pursuing or intend to pursue more training, or do more research.

When you hold the keys to successful interviewing - preparation and perspective - the ‘weakness’ question will fall into place, along with all the others. Know the company, the industry, and the job market. Be prepared to show you’re a good fit for the culture and to paint a coherent picture of your value proposition - specifically how you can and will help the company make money.


Karl Staib - Your Work Happiness Matters said...

Excellent point. If they are dieing for an answer the best angle is the truth. My weakness would be my ADD. I try to do too many projects at once.

Marcia Robinson said...

Thanks for stopping by Karl. It is really a silly question when you get right down to it. Maybe they are hoping something will slip? Fact is, you spend all your time before the interview thinking about your strengths and how to sell yourself. Who knew that selling yourself would now involve sharing weaknesses?

Come back again.

Marcie said...

I just *hate* the weaknesses question! At an interview, everyone is trying to look their best, so neither side is going to expose any truly dirty secrets at this point, anyway. So yes, be genuine and prepared, but there's no point being *stupid!*

I think the only approach here is to turn it into just another way of addressing one's strengths. This may be humor "My biggest weakness? Oh, cookies, most definitely!" or else those "defects" (such as Karl's ADD) which really can be a company asset. (Though no, you can't use "workaholic" anymore... too overused -- as is this silly question in the first place!)

Marcie said...

No question that that "workaholic" answers have had their run.

Humor is definitely a way to go.

It might take some practice to become comfortable, but it is a good way to involve the interviewer.

Judy Smyer said...

I just got a bit of new perspective on this topic from an executive level client. When I inquired why she would ask the 'weakness' question of a job candidate, she said she might be looking to see whether the person would acknowledge the need to seek help at times. I think this is a good point and it could be incorporated into the answer to the question. The jobseeker could indicate that, although very qualified for this particular position, he/she does not hesitate to ask for help when needed. Judy Smyer

Marcia Robinson said...

Excellent follow up Judy.

Thanks for your insight. This continues to be a biggie for people struggling through the interview process.