Friday, November 16, 2012

It's OK, We Know You're Not Perfect

On this "Feminist Friday" we are talking about job interviews. It's been so interesting for me going from the interviewee, to sitting in and interviewing potential interns. Seeing it from both sides has given me some interesting perspectives.

So, today I want to focus on that one dreaded question that is ALWAYS asked. You know the one: "What is your biggest weakness and how do you combat it?"

Why are we discussing this question today you might asked? Because my newest pet peeve is when the interviewee answers: "Well, I'm kind of a perfectionist, so I like to do everything myself and make sure it's perfect. So I guess I need to get better at delegating or working with a team."

What a crock of sh*t. You know what that translates to? "My weakness is that I'm too perfect. Which isn't really a weakness. So I just dodged your question and made myself look good in the process."


And you know why I can rant about this trend?? Because I WAS THAT GIRL! I won't lie to you. I've used that answer before when I was a novice interviewee. And I could tell it tasted like BS coming out of my mouth even then.

So today ladies, we put an end to this. Why? Because we sound like morons!

Before you go into an interview, think long and hard about this question. We all have weaknesses, so be honest with yourself and think of a couple of yours. The trick to this question is admitting a weakness, but then immediately telling the employer how you work hard everyday to combat that weakness.

Note: Stay away from unrelated or extreme weaknesses. Examples: "I always fall in love with assholes" (not related) or "I hate that I have to work to make money I wish I could just marry someone rich" (nothing can combat that attitude).

So once you think of your related weakness, think about a few ways that you try to counter-act that weakness so that it does not affect your professional life. Like I said, the employer doesn't expect you to be perfect. But they do expect a candidate to KNOW their flaws so that they can try to correct them. You can't fix something if you don't know it's broken.

So, I will leave you with my answer to this question so you can see what I'm getting at here. My weakness is that I have a poor memory. If I'm asked to recall details from events in the past, I have a hard time doing so. If it's not something I have done repetively, I probably can't remember how I did it last year. I will forget things people tell me in past conversations.

All of these things are VERY bad for an event planner. For us, it's all about the details. So, once I admit that to the employer, I then quickly follow it up with saying that I know this about myself. So, to combat this, I take thorough notes in meetings and while on conference calls. I write down processes so that the next year, I remember the steps. I mark dates a year in advance on my calendar so that I remember when to start that project next time. I have reminders pop up in my Outlook to remember tasks. I combat my poor memory with careful organization and scheduling.

Does this completely eliminate my weakness? No. I will always forget things. But, this stops it from affecting my work, and helps me be successful at what I do. And now, in interviews, I am not afraid to be honest.

So ladies, the moral of the story is, be honest in your interviews! We know you aren't perfect. No one is. So tell us the real deal. I think employers will appreciate your honest, thoughtful answer.

And I hope to never hear the dreaded, "Well I'm a perfectionist..." ever again!


1 comment:

  1. This is hilarious. We had to practice interviews like every day in college and it was miserable. My answer used to be similar to that old one except it was more that I prefer to do everything myself and don't delegate then I get slowed down stressed. Now I'm more honest. I'm inflexible. I absolutely hate working on the fly. I like to know exactly what every day holds and what my tasks are and I don't like to deviate from my plan. Well that's really bad when you work in PR or even now that I work at a non-profit. It's not data entry. Sometimes a real crisis arises and you have to throw your plans out the window. I hate that. But to combat that I work on projects in small bits and don't leave things until the last minute. That way when something bumps my original plans I'm not stressed out because I know I'll have time to finish whatever I needed to because I've already gotten work done on it. Probably still not a great answer. But hire me anyway!


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