May 23, 2018

Tackling those tricky questions

If you’ve ever heard a phrase like ‘perfect person for the job’ or ‘the perfect fit for this role’, remind yourself that no one expects you to be perfect at your job. Rather, what they want is to find the perfect person for the job – someone with the right combination of skills and/or experience who is the closest match to the requirements of the role.

Remember – you’re only human!

No one is programmed to make the right decision every time and sail through their working life without challenges. It’s also important to bear in mind that it can be tricky to determine what the ‘right’ decision is, because every circumstance is different. Often, you’ll have to make a judgement call when time is of the essence and you need to resolve a problem quickly.

The dreaded ‘greatest weakness’ question

You may be asked what your greatest weakness is. In fact, this might be a question the company asks all its prospective employees as a standard interviewing procedure.

If so, remember that the real reason the interviewer is asking this question is not to catch you out – but to see how self-aware you are. That’s what internationally best-selling author and business expert Bernard Marr says. He recommends that you talk about your minor weakness – ideally those that aren’t relevant to the job.

Marr also advises against making general statements like ‘I am bossy’; instead it’s better to explain something along the lines of ‘in a high-pressure situation, others may perceive me as being bossy’. This makes your apparent weakness appear more subjective and open to interpretation, and the word ‘bossy’ suggests you’re giving orders and exerting authority (which can sound like a strength). On the other hand, if someone claims they’re ‘unreliable’ or ‘not a team player’, this sounds like a more definitive weakness and will make someone appear less employable.

What if you can’t think of any weaknesses off the top of your head?

If you can’t think of any weaknesses, try to think about a challenge you might have faced in a previous job (if applicable), at school, or in an extracurricular activity. For example, perhaps you were a team leader in a group assignment and something went wrong, or maybe you once had to cover for your former supervisor and you made some mistakes.

Was there anything you would have done differently?

In hindsight, maybe you realised you made an assumption about something instead of determining the facts first. Or perhaps you underestimated the scale of a task and underperformed as a result.

What did you learn?

This is the really important bit. What your employers want to see is that you’ve learned from a mistake or challenge and acquired a new skill as a result. How did you rectify the situation? Did you seek help and learn how to avoid making the same mistake again? These are the kinds of questions your interviewer might ask. Marr also recommends that job candidates talk about their development success – how they’ve self-assessed, found their own weaknesses, and dealt with them.

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