Preparing for an Interview - Part 2
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS – WHAT DO THEY REALLY MEAN?
Part 2: Describing your weaknesses and challenges you have faced
WHAT ARE YOUR WEAKNESSES?
The interviewers are trying to identify whether you learn from your mistakes and turn negatives into positives or do you lack in self-confidence and do not take personal accountability.
- Identify an ‘acceptable’ work-related weakness you are working towards improving. Try and introduce a positive spin that relates to something else you have already said.
- Do not reveal deep character flaws (“I have a ferocious temper and have reduced members of my team to tears”) or anything personal and inappropriate.
Here are some example responses:
- "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 often take on personal involvement in my clients' problems and worry about them when I leave work. On the one hand I appreciate the fantastic feedback for going that extra mile all the time. But I can see that I need to balance the time I spend on each case so that I work more effectively."
DESCRIBE A SITUATION WHERE YOU TOOK INITIATIVE
Businesses appreciate employees who take initiative. This discussion is to find out:
- How you problem solve
- If you are you a leader who can step up to a challenge constructively or could you be a ‘loose canon’.
This can be difficult to answer. Most employers emphasise the importance of being a team player – but this is about your individual approach.
- If you are a proactive, results-orientated person who can jump right in and take charge of a situation, ensure you have an example to discuss.
- If you are a good team player and a supportive colleague state this and do not apologise.
DISCUSS A DIFFICULT OR CHALLENGING TIME AT WORK
This is designed to assess your ability to learn from your mistakes.
- Do not be afraid to talk about your failures and what you have learned from them. The ability to accept failure or error and 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 – do not "bad-mouth" previous employers – but this could be a good opportunity to address some of those issues.
Here is an example response:
- "A new colleague joined the firm and was bullied by one of 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."
Explore other interview questions:
Part 3: Exploring your maturity and how you apply yourself
Part 4: Are you right for this position?