The Hardest Interview Question: What Is Your Biggest Weakness?

Your main goal in an interview is to show the company your strengths and tell them why you would be the best fit for the job. When the tables turn and the interviewer asks what your biggest weakness is, many candidates freeze. You do not want them to know why NOT to hire you! But there is an easy way to answer this question without ruining your chances.

First, be honest! But counteract that weakness with its corresponding strength. By using the list below, recently posted on LinkedIn by Dave Kerpen, you can actually turn this question into another chance to show off your strengths.

  1. Strong ManDisorganized ---> Creative 
  2. Inflexible ---> Organized 
  3. Stubborn ---> Dedicated
  4. Inconsistent ---> Flexible
  5. Obnoxious ---> Enthusiastic
  6. Emotionless ---> Calm
  7. Shy ---> Reflective
  8. Irresponsible ---> Adventurous
  9. Boring ---> Responsible
  10. Unrealistic ---> Positive
  11. Negative ---> Realistic
  12. Intimidating ---> Assertive
  13. Weak ---> Humble
  14. Arrogant ---> Self-Confident
  15. Indecisive ---> Patient
  16. Impatient ---> Passionate

[By Dave Kerpen, CEO, Likeable Local, NY Times Best-Selling Author & Keynote Speaker]

Some examples of how this could work for you during the interview:

  • My biggest weakness is I can sometimes be stubborn, but this shows how dedicated I am to every decision I make and every task I encounter.
  • My biggest weakness is that I am extremely passionate. Unfortunately, sometimes that comes off as slightly impatient, but I truly am over-passionate about everything I set my mind to.
  • My biggest weakness is that I am an incurable optimist. In most settings, my positivity is appreciated, but sometimes this can lead to unrealistic goals and aspirations in the workplace. It is something I am continuously trying to improve.

By using this question to show you know you are not perfect and still have room to grow in your new position, the interviewer will hopefully be able to see the real you. Hopefully this list will help you feel more comfortable in your next interview and show your interviewer more of your strengths. Best of luck!

About the Author: 

Leah Antonoff, fresh out of Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, is the new social media guru. Leah consulted with companies on their marketing and social media campaigns in the Bloomington, IN and Atlanta, GA areas.

Connect with Leah on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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The Perils of Falling in Love.

As someone who has observed hundreds of hiring processes over the years, I’ve seen my share of missteps. I’ve witnessed hiring managers spend entire interviews talking about themselves, only thinking to ask a few questions of the candidate at the very end. I’ve watched interviewers robotically read one question after the other from a prepared list, never really listening to the candidate’s answers.Perils of Falling in Love And I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen unprofessional, disorganized, and just generally ineffective techniques derail interviews.

But the one mistake that leaves me shaking my head every time I see it is unique. It’s all too common, and hiring managers often don’t realize they’ve done it until it’s too late. What’s the sin? Falling in love with a candidate.

No, I don’t mean “romantic” love, although that probably happens every once in a while. What I’m referring to is when interviewers lose their objectivity and good judgment because they connect strongly with the person sitting across the table.   This usually occurs because the two people have some thing or things in common, and the more they talk and share stories, the more they “click.” Before you know it , the hiring manager starts thinking, “Hey, I really like this person.” There’s a shift from wanting to make sure the candidate and job are a great fit to thinking about how nice it would be to have this individual on the team.

What causes interviewers to fall in love? There are lots of reasons, but the most frequent situations I see are the result of the hiring manager and the candidate having one or more of the following in common:

  • Similar backgrounds (grew up in the same area, went to the same schools)
  • Shared interests (sports, hobbies, volunteer work)
  • Past experiences (first jobs, previous employers)
  • Similar personal situations (single or married, with or without kids, empty nester)
  • Shared relationships (professional or personal)
  • Mutual goals (career advancement objectives, professional accomplishments)
  • Shared geography (live in the same area, frequent the same places)

Interviewers also fall in love with candidates because of their personalities. If the last three people you’ve interviewed have been nervous, boring or unable hold up their end of the conversation, it’s likely you’ll be drawn to the next individual who’s polished, confident, funny or well-spoken. And don’t underestimate the power of a candidate who is well-mannered, charming, energetic or a good listener.

So why is falling in love such a mistake? Because most of the time when it happens, the interviewer stops being neutral about the candidate. I’ve seen hiring managers ignore red flags or danger signs when they’re in love. I’ve noticed them only hearing what they want to hear. On a few occasions I’ve watched them unconsciously feed candidates the “right” answers so it appears the job is a great fit. I’ve also seen them skip steps or shortcut their hiring process because someone seems “perfect” for the job. But the biggest problem is that they can’t accept anyone else’s negative feedback. They are quick to dismiss references or other interviewers who voice concerns or point out flaws in the candidate.

Once managers understand this phenomenon and resolve to avoid it in future hiring situations, they often ask me how to prevent it from happening again. Interestingly, I’ve found that simply being aware of a tendency to fall in love with candidates is key.   When managers find the conversation turning to shared interests or commonalities, they can recognize the situation and stay on their toes. The discussion should be long enough to build rapport but not so extensive they spend half the allotted interview time sharing war stories with the candidate.

Another key element to maintaining objectivity is having a written Hiring Profile in front of you during each interview. Your Hiring Profile should outline the 8-10 most important tasks the job you are hiring for entails. It should also list the experience and education levels you want as well as the technical skills you need. Finally, it should list the core behavioral traits (assertive, social, detail-oriented, flexible, etc.) you need to get in the person you hire.   Use this Hiring Profile throughout your interviews to help you focus your questions on determining if the candidate has what it takes to do the job. And it can serve as a checklist post-interview to figure out where the individual fits or doesn’t fit with what you need. Hopefully it will shine a bright light on situations where you really like the person but recognize they lack the most important things needed to succeed in the job.

Maintaining your objectivity is easier when you have something concrete to keep you on track. And a good dose of awareness doesn’t hurt, either.

About the Author: 

Janna is Vice President of Client Services for The Berke Group, where she leads their education initiatives and serves as their key client advocate.  Berke provides powerful assessment software that measures personality, talent, and intelligence and helps companies hire the best people.  Janna develops Berke’s  learning programs and provides both on-site and web-based management training for companies and individuals. She also writes about people management strategies, trends and best practices.

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75 reasons you didn’t get the job

Your Optimism
Cartoon by Hugh

Wondering why you didn’t get the job? It was probably because:

  1. You’re not qualified.
  2. You’re over qualified.
  3. You’re qualified but someone else was more qualified or a better fit.
  4. You wore too much cologne / perfume.
  5. You smelled bad.
  6. You wore too much makeup.
  7. You were overdressed.
  8. You were underdressed.
  9. The job was filled internally.
  10. The job was put on hold.
  11. The CEO’s daughter got the job.
  12. You’re too old.
  13. You’re too young.
  14. You look older than you are.
  15. You look younger than you are.
  16. You’re too good-looking.
  17. You’re not attractive enough.
  18. You acted too desperate.
  19. You acted uninterested.
  20. You didn’t sell yourself.
  21. You oversold yourself.
  22. You didn’t give enough detail in your answers to their questions.
  23. You answered questions in too much detail.
  24. Your answers were wrong or just plain stupid
  25. You seemed overly prepared.
  26. You didn’t seem prepared.
  27. You were too chatty.
  28. You weren’t talkative enough.
  29. You were overly friendly.
  30. You weren’t friendly enough.
  31. You laughed too much.
  32. You didn’t show a sense of humor.
  33. You talked too loud.
  34. You talked too softly.
  35. You seemed arrogant.
  36. You didn’t show enough confidence.
  37. You were late.
  38. You arrived *way* too early.
  39. Your resume is too long.
  40. Your resume is too short.
  41. Your hair is too long.
  42. Your hair is too short.
  43. Your skirt was too tight.
  44. Your pants were too baggy.
  45. You were rude to the receptionist.
  46. You were rude to everyone.
  47. You appeared to be bored.
  48. You were overly eager.
  49. You lied.
  50. You asked for too much money.
  51. You were willing to take the job for much less than it pays.
  52. You have drunk, naked, or otherwise scary pictures on Facebook.
  53. They Googled you and found your blog about how much you hate your boss / your job / their product.
  54. You said you hate your mother / father / sister / brother.
  55. You didn’t go to the right college.
  56. They have a diversity initiative and you’re a white male.
  57. You answered your cell phone during the interview.
  58. You were nervous / sweaty / jittery.
  59. You live too far away.
  60. You didn’t return their calls quickly enough.
  61. You stalked the hiring manager.
  62. You seemed stuffy.
  63. You were too relaxed.
  64. Your piercing(s).
  65. Your tattoo(s).
  66. They didn’t think you would fit in.
  67. They’re skeptical of your willingness / ability to travel or to work the hours that the job requires.
  68. You made weird facial expressions when you spoke.
  69. You appeared aloof.
  70. You used poor grammar.
  71. You crushed fingers to the bone with your handshake.
  72. Your handshake was too limp.
  73. You didn’t make good eye contact.
  74. You didn’t send thank you notes.
  75. You brought your dog / boyfriend / girlfriend / mother to the interview.

The point of this list is not to overwhelm you with all of the things you might have done / will do “wrong.” It is to demonstrate that interviewing is extremely subjective, and if you apply to jobs that you meet the qualifications for, are prepared for the interview, and use common sense, there is no reason to beat yourself up if you did not get the job. Rather than second-guessing yourself or feeling defeated, after each interview take a few moments to do a self-assessment – and write the answers down so you can use them to prepare for your next interview.

  1. What did I do well?
  2. What could I have done better?
  3. What was I lacking in preparation that I’ll be sure to do next time?

This shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and it will help not only your confidence but your chances of success next time.

Now, go delete those blog posts [you know which ones I'm talking about] and take down those pictures from your bachelor party on Facebook.

About the Author: 

Stephanie A. Lloyd is Strategist-in-Chief, Calibre Search Group, located in Atlanta, Georgia at the intersection of Talent Strategies + Social Media. With more than 15 years of experience in corporate recruiting and executive search, Stephanie works with hiring managers, HR executives, business owners, and recruiting firms on recruitment and retention strategy including how to better utilize social media for talent acquisition and employee communication. Stephanie is a regular contributor to Talent Net Live and The Matrix Wall, and she partners with Todd Schnick to produce the video blogging series He Said, She Said.

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"You can find that on our website. Please stop wasting my time."

Everyone knows they’ll be expected to answer a series of questions in a job interview.

It is equally important to be prepared to ask good questions. The interviewer will expect it, and I recommend having them outlined in advance so that nothing is forgotten or overlooked. And, it never hurts to show that you spent time thinking through this important meeting!

The interviewee is typically invited to ask questions near the end of the discussion. Following are some questions you may want to ask during your interview:

  • Why is this position open? (Due to growth? Or was the position vacated, and if so, why?)
  • What is your highest priority in the next six months, and how could I help?
  • Are there any challenges in particular awaiting the person who takes on this role?
  • What are the characteristics of your top people?
  • What are your personal satisfactions and disappointments since you have been with the company?

Notice that I said be prepared to ask good questions. With the amount of information now available at our fingertips, candidates are expected to do a certain amount of research before the interview. Asking questions that could easily be answered by visiting the company’s website or with a simple Google search can make you appear uninspired and unprepared.

Know before you go, and don’t ask:

  • What the company does.
  • The history of growth of the company.
  • Number of employees and locations, annual revenue, and whether they’re publicly or privately held.
  • If the company is public, you might want to know its current stock price, bond rating, and overall financial health.
  • If the company is private, check your local paper or Google for articles reporting impending layoffs, new product launches, or other potential signs of financial health.
  • The company’s top competitors and how they stack up in terms of product, market share, and strengths and weaknesses.

These are all things you should research in advance and incorporate your findings as appropriate in the interview to demonstrate your initiative and readiness.

Whatever you do, don’t be this person:

Adria Alpert Romm, a Human Resources executive for Discovery Communications, is quoted in the May 2009 edition of Real Simple Magazine in an article about how to find (and keep) a job. “I interviewed someone recently and he boasted how much he loved one of our shows. The problem was that the show was on a competing network! It was clear to me that he knew nothing about Discovery."

About the Author: 

Stephanie A. Lloyd is Strategist-in-Chief, Calibre Search Group, located in Atlanta, Georgia at the intersection of Talent Strategies + Social Media. With more than 15 years of experience in corporate recruiting and executive search, Stephanie works with hiring managers, HR executives, business owners, and recruiting firms on recruitment and retention strategy including how to better utilize social media for talent acquisition and employee communication. Stephanie is a regular contributor to Talent Net Live and The Matrix Wall, and she partners with Todd Schnick to produce the video blogging series He Said, She Said.

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Packing for a warm, sunny . . . Interview?


In four weeks, my hubby and I are traveling to Italy to celebrate our three-year wedding anniversary! The trip is jam-packed with activity as we spend over 10 days traveling from Rome, to Tuscany, then finally to Venice.

First things first though, "what am I going to wear?"

Packing for a TripLike most females, this is my main priority.  We’ll be in Italy 10 days and I won’t have a lot of room in my luggage to pack everything I’d like to wear, so I have to pick and choose wisely.  I researched the weather for Italy in May and typically it’s in the upper 60s to low 70s (perfect weather!), so I’m going to wear layers.  I know we’ll be walking around A LOT so instead of packing my cute heels, I’m sticking with flats and running shoes. It might not be the latest fashion trend, but I have learned from previous trips that heels are a bad idea.

Once I have my wardrobe figured out, the next item on my list is researching the places we’ll be visiting.  It’s very important to do your ‘homework’ before you go on a trip.  I bought an amazing book titled Rick Steves’ Italy 2010. This book is perfect for anyone traveling to Italy.  It tells you the in’s and out’s of the cities and where to eat and what to do.  It also tells you cool paths to take while walking the streets in Rome at night. Very romantic!

In addition, we also researched Trip Advisor on which hotels are best. We’re staying at nice hotels in both Rome and Venice, but I’m most excited about our hotel in Tuscany. It’s called Relais Viganle located in Radda in the Chianti region.  It looks beautiful!

Just like me, you might be planning for a fun get-away this summer, but did you know that these same principles can also be used when preparing for a job interview?

The same way you research and prepare for your trip, is the same way you prepare for an interview.

For example, again first things first, you need to find the right outfit’ or attire for your interview. It’s always better to be a little overdressed than underdressed. For men, a nice suit is always a good choice, and for women, a business suit is professional yet can be trendy with a cute pair of heels.

You should also research the company you’re interviewing with.  Do your homework! The same way you surf the web for local attractions or reviews of a vacation spot,  research the company online. Know their website inside and out. Are there press releases, or reviews of the company on the web? Also, are they active on social media sites? If so, see what they're saying to their customers.

Finally, it’s always a good idea to have a list of questions for the interviewer.  These questions will show them you have done your homework.  Make sure the questions pertain to the roles/responsibilities of the job you are interviewing for.  Some great interview questions can be found in this article.

I hope some of this information has been helpful whether you’re planning for a trip-of-a-lifetime or preparing for a job interview. I know our trip will be one we will never forget.


About the Author: 

Kelly Thielemann is a technical sourcer for MATRIX Resources. Kelly has over 7 years of recruiting experience specializing in Sharepoint, Data Warehouse, Business Intelligence and Web Development including Java and .NET. You can follow Kelly on Twitter at KellyITJobs.

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