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or be left behind.
Don't get caught eating the dust of your competitors.
Change is in the air so, take action now!
What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
The fastest way to make a good interview go bad is to avoid
questions posed by the hiring manager. The one question candidates
love to avoid is, “What is your greatest weakness?”
Most candidates are quick to respond with superficial answers such
as “I’m a workaholic” or “I’m a perfectionist.” Not only are those
responses boring, but they are also predictable answers interviewers
are used to hearing. So much so that an interviewer’s comeback line
often is, “That doesn’t sound like a weakness. Now why don’t you
tell me about a real weakness?”
Ouch. What an uncomfortable position to be in—when a decision
maker challenges you during an interview. Just like you, the
interviewer wants the process to go as seamlessly as possible, and
they quickly become resentful when they are placed in a
When answering questions surrounding your greatest weakness, my
advice is to tell the truth—to a point. Though I don’t advocate
providing a play-by-play of every area that may need improvement, it
isn’t a good idea not to cop to a weakness either. A happy medium
does exist, and it lies in focusing your response on an area that
doesn’t have a major impact on your ability to do the job. This
should be an area that you are on your way to improving. Note, not
an area you’ve already improved, but one that is well on its way.
Interviewers recognize that jobseekers aren’t forthcoming when
answering the “greatest weakness” question. As a result, there is a
new trend in hiring circles of interviewers cleverly disguising the
question and using a variation of the theme. In doing so,
interviewers are successfully stumping candidates, and are receiving
responses that uncover the not-so-pleasant side of candidates.
Cleverly Designed “Greatest Weakness” Questions:
- We all have aspects of our job we prefer not to do. What
aspect of your day-to-day responsibilities do you dislike?
In hopes of making you feel comfortable, interviewers may ask
questions that start with “we.” The psychology behind this is to
make you feel as though you are with a friend, which can cause
you to let your guard down.
- Think back to your last review. What suggestions did your
supervisor have for improvement? The chances are extremely
high that your supervisor offered suggestions for improvement.
Interviewers are aware of this and anticipate that you will
disclose the details of your most recent evaluation.
- Describe a project you worked on that didn’t turn out as
well as you expected. Interviewers find that job seekers
reveal more when they are asked to tell a story. The assumption
is made that the more you talk, the more likely you’ll disclose
- In what area of your work do you think you can be more
effective? This question is very similar to “greatest
weakness” question. However, interviewers believe the way the
question is phrased will make you feel less threatened, and
therefore more likely to answer freely.
Bottom line: whether or not you want to divulge sensitive
information during an interview, an interviewer is going to try his
or her darnedest to dig for skeletons in your closet. Interviewers
want to uncover any reasons why they shouldn’t hire you, and they
hope those reasons will come straight from you. So be prepared.
- Linda Matias
Recognized as a career expert, Linda Matias brings a wealth of
experience to the career services field. She has been sought out for
her knowledge of the employment market, outplacement, job search
strategies, interview preparation, and resume writing, quoted a
number of times in The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday,
Newsweek, and HR-esource.com. She is President of CareerStrides and
the National Resume Writers’ Association. Visit her website at
www.careerstrides.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Write an E-Mail Cover Letter
More and more employers are asking job
applicants to reply by e-mail.
Here's how to make the best first impression:
If you send your cover letter and résumé to an employer via
e-mail, is it best to write an e-mail message and attach your cover letter
and résumé documents to it?
Or should you skip the cover-letter attachment, and make the e-mail message
itself your cover letter?
Skip the cover-letter attachment, and turn your e-mail
message into a cover letter. A great cover letter shares a bit of your
background but mostly talks about the company's need (for a marketing
research manager, an actuary, or whatever) and describes why your experience
is perfectly suited to the opportunity. One paragraph is the perfect length.
Here's an example:
Dear Amy Smith,
My seven years of marketing research experience at QRP
Industries has given me a terrific background in survey, focus group, and a
wide range of other research approaches and a great feel for client needs
and concerns. I'd love to chat with you about the opportunity at your
convenience; my résumé is attached.
Make sure that your résumé is a clean Word document that
won't be garbled as an e-mail attachment, and use your professional
e-mail account (not email@example.com) to send your message. If you do
your research (via the company's own Web site, Google).
Phone Number( where u
can be reached during the day)
Liz Ryan is a former corporate HR executive and an author
and speaker on the new-millennium workplace. Liz is the CEO of WorldWIT, the
global network for professional women. Reach her at
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