Don’t swallow the honest pill with these 3 interview questions

Nevervous Interviewee

Malls drive me nuts. If Dante had another ring of hell to add, it would consist of shoppers aimlessly walking around looking for the nearest exit. I feel this way five minutes after being in one that my daughters drag me to.

I’m content waiting for them while they run off to shop. But all the soft seats outside the stores are usually taken by husbands and fathers who constantly check their watch to see how long they’ve been waiting for their wife and kids.

Malls drive me nuts for another reason. We fathers hear things we don’t want to. My girls love stores like Forever 21, Abercrombie and Fitch, The Gap, and Victoria Secret….

Hold on there, I look at my youngest daughter, Did I hear you right, dear? You went to Victoria Secret?  “Yeah,” my eldest daughter says, “she bought a lacy bra.” TMI

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with interviews. Not much, other than to say that some job candidates seem to, as I bring up in my interview workshops, swallow the honest pill and spill way too much information.

And why do candidates do this? Because they’re unprepared for the tough, yet predictable, questions like: Tell me about one of your greatest weaknesses. One answer I hear often from jobseekers is their claim of being a perfectionist.

Thinking this is an admirable trait, I tell them that employers imagine a scenario that plays out something like this:

The candidate has a two-page addendum that has to be completed by the end of the day. After struggling with the right verbiage the whole day, it’s still not completed. This is something that should have taken half an hour to complete. This answer is the perfect interview killer.

Tell me something about yourself. Here’s another one that provokes too much information from the candidate. This is a pretty straightforward directive, but one for which candidates are not prepared.

What’s required for this question is a 30-second commercial that describes your value to the prospective employer. It’s your value proposition that includes relevant accomplishments. Yet many candidates feel the pressure and say too much about silly stuff.

One candidate I interviewed answered this question by telling me she planned to be married in three years and have kids in five. For me, the interview was already over. This was definitely too much information and demonstrated how unprepared she was for the interview.

Tell me about a time when you failed to communicate effectively. Imagine a candidate answering this directive as such: “I guess it was a time when I had an argument with my boss,” the candidate says.

The interview is intrigued. “Tell us about that, John.”

“Well, I didn’t like the way she criticized my quarterly report. She said it was full of spelling errors, inaccuracies, and grammatical mistakes. Plus, she told me it was too short. So I sort of lost it and yelled at her.”

“What was the result of that argument, John?” says the interviewer.

“It wasn’t too good.”

It wasn’t too good? Wrong example and way too much information.

It’s all fine and well for me to poke fun at job candidates, imaginary and real; although, I’ve heard similar responses from some of my customers. So here’s my advice. BE READY FOR THESE QUESTIONS.

For example, my greatest weakness is how I struggle with spelling. I can string a sentence or two together, but I’d be lost without Spell Check. I’ve done much to improve it, including buying a calendar with the day’s word and definition.

Is this weakness true? Yes. Would it kill me to bring it up at an interview? Probably not, unless I were looking for a teaching job. Right or wrong, I’m ready for the weakness question.

Malls really drive me nuts, especially when I’m there with my anxious son and daughters who share too much TMI.. And it sucks when candidates arrive at interviews unprepared, thereby losing their wits and also give TMI.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t swallow the honest pill with these 3 interview questions

  1. Kevin Bryce

    At best, interviewing job candidates is a horribly flawed process. Despite efforts to properly train interviewers the typical job interview often fails at the goal of finding the “best candidate for the job”. Past statistics show high job turnover rates in the U.S.which are a fair barometer of this problem. I believe it is the job of the interviewer to help candidates communicate effectively their experience and unique value proposition. It should not be the interviewer’s goal to deliberately trap and fail candidates. We have all heard from experts that a person decides in the first couple of minutes if they like or dislike someone they meet. The skilled interviewer should “mine for gold” and not trust their first impressions. Otherwise, it is likely we will miss out on exceptional employees who do not interview well.

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    Reply
    1. Things Career Related Post author

      Kevin, I think you hit it on the head when you say, “The skilled interviewer should “mine for gold” and not trust their first impressions. Otherwise, it is likely we will miss out on exceptional employees who do not interview well.” Many qualified people are probably overlooked because they fail to make eye contact immediately, or they fumble for words, etc.

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