Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Job Interview Questions: In a job interview, is your answer to "What's your biggest weakness?" a perfect humble brag opportunity?

The answer I want to that question is a candid, honest, authentic appraisal and analysis of your weaknesses. 

No other answer will do. Any other answer is wrong.

I ask it every time I interview a job applicant, and every time I ask it, it's a make-or-break question (or more precisely, a survive-or-break question). We don't even wait until an interview to ask it: it's an essay question on our application forms. Everyone has some weaknesses. I have mine: I'll share them with you if I ever have a reason to (on this day, you're the one asking me for a job, not the other way around). If we go any further, I'm going to have a pretty good idea what I'm getting into with you and what your weaknesses are, rather than have to find them the hard way one at a time later. I need to know that you're aware of them, I need to know that you're honest about them, I need to know that you yourself are willing and able to confront them and acknowledge them, and I need to know that we can deal with them.

Even the desire to give me any other answer than exactly the one I'm looking for on this one is dishonest and makes you unfit and unworthy to work for my company.

If you try to tell me, "I don't have any weaknesses", and I don't see you walk on water without getting your feet wet, turn water into wine, or heal the sick and cast out demons with a voice command, then you're out the door for the last time just as soon as I can end the discussion without being utterly uncivil. Nothing personal - the problem could be nothing more than just that you're lacking in introspection, or it could be that you are just not capable of being honest even with yourself (never mind with anyone else) - but while there are lots of people in the world who are like that (and again, we all have our weaknesses), there is no place in this company for any of them.

If you try to game it, if you try to do a "humble brag", if you try to fence off the question, if you answer it evasively, if you try to candy-coat your answer so you paint a picture of your "weakness" as a strength, if your answer tells me nothing more than you've read a lot of books about job interviewing and that you're full of crap, then you've really blown it. In addition to being dishonest, it's an attempt to manipulate our decision-making process in your favor, for your personal advantage, without having due regard for our concerns and needs (as though dishonesty wouldn't in itself qualify as a deal-breaker), so we take it a bit more personally. There's no place for psychopaths or con artists in my company regardless of your capabilities, and you're out the door for the last time just as soon as I can end the discussion without losing my temper, making a scene or committing a chargeable criminal offense -- period.

Originally appeared on Quora

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