“What are your weaknesses?”
Ah, the dreaded job interview question where we lie through our teeth and hope we don’t come across as the complete fraud that we are. We’ve all been there, touting answers like “I try too hard“, “I care too much“, or whatever other BS we manage to make up on the spot. The good news is, we can just be honest! Follow me on this one, it’s really not as bad as you’d think.
Tell the truth
In a recent LinkedIn article, Adam Grant, renowned author of Originals and Wharton Business School professor, talked about the benefits of being painfully honest about those aspects of yourself that you often feel you should hide in a job interview. We all want to land that big job, or break into an industry and try and promote ourselves in the best possible light. In his article, Grant sites a study where 77% of people gave humblebrag answers to the question of their weaknesses, while only 23% gave genuine, vulnerable answers that spoke truly to the areas of their personality or professional life where they needed to improve. Hiring managers were apparently 30% more interested in those candidates who responded with genuine answers like, “I procrastinate”, or “I overreact to situations”.
This is a breath of fresh air in a job market and society where we’re made to feel like we must present ourselves in this perfect light – whether that’s during a job interview, on social media (which many prospective employers are also checking), or on a date. The pendulum is beginning to swing in the opposite direction. An honest answer about your weaknesses exposes your vulnerabilities, your insecurities, and actual areas where you could use some improvement.
By admitting your inadequacies, you show that you’re self-aware enough to know your areas for improvement—and secure enough to be open about them. That you’re interested in being hired for what you actually bring to the table, not what you pretend to bring. – Adam Grant
It works both ways
You’ve heard the saying, “it isn’t what you know, but who you know”. Well, I’d venture to say that a job interview is simply a meeting between two parties interested in getting to know one another, it’s just as much you interviewing the employer as them interviewing you – it works both ways. Depending on your situation, you might feel as though you need them more than they need you, but you have to take a confident approach about who you are, the skills and experience (or lack thereof) that you bring (or have the potential to bring) to the table, and be honest about what you’re looking for. I’ve actually turned down several jobs in the past because I didn’t feel the employer was necessarily a good fit either for my ideal working style, didn’t have a good company culture, or the position didn’t pique my interest enough. In the same way that you want a potential employer or company to be honest in their dealings with you during the interview process, you should be just as clear and transparent not only about your skills and experience, but also about your expectations of them.
You will drop the façade
You could be dating someone for years, and if you haven’t been your authentic, true self that whole time, at some point you’re bound to slip up and have to drop the façade. The same thing goes with looking for and finding work – be yourself! If they don’t hire you despite that, then at least you know it wouldn’t have been a good fit in the long run. I know money is an important, if not the most important factor in this process, but the truth is, long-term satisfaction in your career has less to do with money, and more to do with purpose – doing work that matters.
We all have genuine areas of both our personal and professional life that need some polishing and improvement. Be transparent about those places, it’ll speak volumes when it lands on the ears of the right people.
Here’s to having a job conversation, not an interview…