Career Survival Skills: A Stupid Interview Question
by Michael Mayher

“What is your biggest weakness?” is one of the dumbest, brain-dead questions to ask a person being evaluated for a potential job opportunity. The people who ask this question actually think they are clever. This question is demonstrative of a true amateur pretending to be otherwise. And if I’ve offended anyone with my direct, but honest, statement please just go crawl away to your safe space and suck your thumb. Sometimes the truth simply needs to be delivered right between the eyes. Sadly many people are not good at conducting an interview, so they compensate with condescension and/or arrogance as a shield to deflect attention to their own shortcomings. We’re always told about the flaws in job candidates but, sometimes, it is the unfortunate applicant who must suffer through a meeting that has more in common with a pointless and meandering inquisition than an interview.

Consider that when you interview for a job, your stated goal is to present yourself in the best possible manner. Granted, their job is to confirm, verify and when there is doubt, to challenge a job seeker’s claims; to test their abilities, evaluate their attitude, learn about their accomplishments and how that person might fit into the organization they want to join, and possibly become a part of it. And yes indeed, an interviewer is and should be looking to expose and identify weaknesses. But, come on, asking someone to describe their own weakness(s) is so clichéd and nobody gives anything but pre-planned and contrived responses anyway. Because, for their part, interviewees usually have at the ready a prepared answer in anticipation, something just as clichéd such as; “I’m a workaholic” which is an equally dumb answer, suggesting an exaggerated work ethic will score points with the interviewer. Or, “I’m a perfectionist and I always strive to do my best.” Yeah I get it; you’re turning a negative into a positive, blah, blah… The reality is both sides are phony, engaging in contrivance while the interviewee seeks to avoid a “gotcha” moment. Yeah, that’s constructive (insert sarcasm here).

Sometimes it ends up being one big waste of time, setting traps and playing games, when an honest business discussion between professionals would suffice and accomplish more. 

About the Author: Michael Mayher has been an international direct search recruiter on two continents for over 22 years. A consultant, published author, lecturer and blogger, he re-introduces professionals to critical Soft Skills lost in our digital age and necessary to effectively navigate their careers. You can find more information by visiting his blog and website.)

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