Great Additions to My Interview Process

Last month someone sent me an article from the Wall Street Journal this Wall Street Journal article entitled “Five Must-Ask Interview Questions” and though I think the questions are very inspired, frankly, I am stumped.

One of my standard interview questions is “Briefly tell me about your most pronounced professional weaknesses and tell me about a time on your last job where that weakness caused difficulty for you.” Now, in this question I am looking for someone who is self aware enough to identify their own weaknesses, has the confidence to speak about them and can develop strategies to work around those weaknesses.

This is a tall order – people tend to be uncomfortable speaking about their weaknesses and rarely ever do so. Even though I discourage these answers, I get a lot of strengths thinly disguised as weaknesses: Things like “I just work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist and if I can’t do something well I obsess over it.” Now, in my 16 years of managing people I have never complained that someone works too hard or is too determined. These answers are an automatic reject.

I recognize that asking a complete stranger to speak about their weaknesses is a very tall order. And this is the brilliance of Dr. Dattner’s interview questions. They really do a fantastic job of finding alternate ways to get candidates to speak about their shortcomings.

So thus the conundrum – should I make it easier for my interviewees to speak about their weaknesses? If the point is to find out what they are not so good at professionally the questions are truly inspired. Yet I want to know if someone can identify their weaknesses and want people who are confident in the knowledge that their strengths outweigh their weaknesses. I want someone who is secure enough to speak about what they are not good at. I know it is a lot to ask for an interviewee to open up on a vulnerable topic and perhaps this is an unfair expectation.

I guess I have to do some experimenting.

View our Latest Opportunities