Preparing for an Interview - Part 2
WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
The real purpose of this question: -
- Can you identify and then learn from your mistakes, turn negatives into positives? Or, are you lacking in self-confidence, a boring whingy moaner and prone to blaming others for your failures?
- Don’t reveal deep character flaws (“I have a ferocious temper and regularly reduce my secretary to tears”) and don't say anything personal and embarrassing. Identify a tolerable, work-related weakness that you are working towards improving. Try and introduce a positive spin that relates to something else you have already said.
- "I don't speak any foreign languages so I have just signed up to learn Mandarin. As I’ve already said, I would like to develop a specialisation in the Asian energy markets over the next few years."
- "I get too involved in my clients' problems and worry about them when I leave work. On the one hand I do get fantastic feedback at work, for going that extra mile all the time. But I can see that I need to balance out the time I spend on each case so that I work more effectively."
THE SIGN OF A GOOD EMPLOYEE IS THE ABILITY TO TAKE THE INITIATIVE. CAN YOU DESCRIBE A SITUATION WHERE YOU TOOK THE INITIATIVE?
The real question: -
- Faced with a problem, do you solve it or panic like a rabbit in the headlights?
- Are you a leader who can step up to a challenge, or are you a loose cannon who is going to go off on “a frolic of your own”?
- This is a bit of a misleading question. Nearly every job description emphasises the desirability of being a team player - and this sounds like the opposite.
- If you are exactly the sort of proactive, results-orientated person who can jump right in and take charge of a situation, make sure you have an example prepared.
But if you consider your strength to be a good team player and a supportive colleague then own up to it and don’t apologise - sometimes there are questions that are designed to get a reaction and prove that you are not a doormat!
WHAT’S THE WORST OR MOST EMBARASSING THING YOU HAVE DONE AT WORK?
Like the "weaknesses" question, this is designed to test your ability to learn from your mistakes.
- Don’t be afraid to talk about your failures, particularly if you’ve learned from them. The ability to accept failure or error but learn from it is a critical aspect of high potential individuals. (Most high-flying entrepreneurs have gone bankrupt more than once!)
- If you have left a job under difficult circumstances - bearing in mind you should not "bad-mouth" previous employers - this can be a good opportunity to address some of those issues.
- "A new colleague joined the firm and was bullied by one of the more long-term employees. I didn't do anything to help and in the end the new person left. I realise now that I should have ....... especially since I would like to move into a management role as my career progresses."