HANDLING THE WORST INTERVIEW QUESTION: WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS?


Believe it or not, some HR people still ask, “What is your greatest weakness.” To me this is a cop out question. It is like the gym teacher who hasn’t planned anything so we have to spend 40 minutes playing murder ball. There are three reasons for asking it: they want to see whether their candidate is creative, they are nosey, or they are sadistic and want to see their interviewees squirm as they decide which skeleton to whip out of the closet for all the world to see.

Whatever the reason, once it is asked, it has to be answered. Some candidates say that a good answer is that they have the tendency to work too hard, but have developed a plan to develop their skills at time management and their ability to prioritize tasks. The problem with that answer is that it is unlikely that the interviewer has learned these skills and they don’t want to get shown up.

Another favourite is, “I don’t have any weaknesses.” This causes the interviewer to think, “Arrogant bastard. Even I could have answered it that way.”

I always liked the answer, ”My greatest weakness is working with computers, but I found that if I read manuals and take courses I can get the hang of them.” The form of the answer is correct. It shows that you can do something about it.

Unfortunately, nobody will believe that you did. Who would ever sit down to relax with a manual. Isn’t there more to life than that?

I have always thought that the best answer to this question would be, public speaking.

I hate public speaking.

In part, I think my own relationship with public speaking goes hand-in-hand with me being a neurotic introvert at heart. I cured this by becoming a fitness instructor. Nothing cures both neurotic introversion and fear of public speaking faster than parading yourself in front of 40 women in sports bras wearing nothing but a muscle shirt and spandex shorts yourself – especially if the shorts are misbehaving and giving everyone a glimpse of life in the fast lane.

(Here’s a hint. If you’re going to patch a pair of spandex shorts with duct tape, make sure to do it from the inside out. It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s better than peeling your hide off with them after class).

Luckily for applicants, one doesn’t need to become a fitness instructor to get over the fear of public speaking. For the price of a dinner at Macdonald’s, you can join a toastmaster’s club, and that sounds great at an interview.

Here are some tips to be a better public speaker that I’ve picked up from being a fitness instructor:
1. Know your facts: Before you can teach, you learn a lot about theory. Remember it and use it
2. Know your audience: They come to you as informed consumers. Sometimes they are famous, so try not to get stage fright
3. Rehearse: Be prepared with your moves and what you say about them
4. Prepare to ad lib and tell jokes and stories: One time I was leading my class in a stretch, “Do this slowly.” I said in my hypnotic fitness instructor voice. “Always stretch slowly. I always de everything slowly – except for one thing,” Later I got a complaint for being too sexy. But on the plus side, somebody noticed.
5. Anticipate questions: There is no point in being an expert if nobody asks questions
6. Single out a friend in the audience: It’s good to have ally in the crowd, but don’t focus all your energy there. Scan the room and find others. That way you’re including everyone in your Tomfoolery

If you memorize some of this, you will definitely have the upper hand with that worst interview question whether you’re wearing a $500 lets-talk-about-it-suit or a $20 pair of spandex shorts.

Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .

He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.

He is an active ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at 604-464-4105. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.

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One Response to “HANDLING THE WORST INTERVIEW QUESTION: WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WEAKNESS?”

  1. energywriter Says:

    Funny and good suggestions. I was once asked that question and replied that I was a recovering perfectionist. Was hired.
    BTW – slow sex can be incredible if the mood is right. Same for the opposite.

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