Thursday, June 6, 2013

Penelope Trunk: Interview tip: How to talk about your weakness

The Weakness (Animorphs)
The Weakness (Animorphs) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When someone asks you, in an interview, “What is your weakness?” do not give a bullshit answer. Saying something like, “I pay too much attention to detail” is actually a terrible answer for someone who is getting hired to do detail work. It means you have a deficit in the exact area you’re tying to get hired for.
 In November of 2012, Penelope Trunk posted an article to her blog about an important interview tip: how to answer that question about your greatest weakness.  Her answer: be honest -- about a weakness that has nothing to do with the job you're being hired for. If you're bad with numbers, you're not interviewing to be a mathematician anyway, are you?

I can see how that could backfire. Say, I answered that I have very little interest or skill in athletics. Well, I'm certainly not applying for any job where I'd need that, but what if they decide that means I'm not a team player?  Or that I'm bad at self-care and thus will not be able to keep up with a high-energy workplace?  Or what if I'm the #1 candidate, but the #2 candidate will also help the company softball league take the playoffs, pushing her past me to get that job?

Well, the perfect-world answer is that I wouldn't want that job anyway, but that's not reality.

And I'm so bad at figuring out my strengths and weaknesses, anyway.

Wait, can I use that as my answer?

How about you?  Do you have a great answer for that interview question?

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