Category Archives: Career Search

4 ways to let employers know you’re unemployed on LinkedIn

I get the question all the time in my LinkedIn workshops: “How do I let recruiters know I’m not currently working?” My answer has been somewhat noncommittal, but folks want potential employer to know their status.


I give people four options, none of which are entirely optimal:

  1. Leave your most recent employer as current for a short period of time.
  2. Create your own “company.”
  3. Write that you’re unemployed in your headline.
  4. List volunteer experience in the experience section.

There are problems with each tactic. After all, being out of work is … being out of work. And some ignorant employers still prefer to hire passive job seekers over job seekers who are actively looking for employment.

No matter how you spin it, employers will know the story. Let’s look at the potential solutions from worse to best:

1. Leave Your Previous Position Open

Of course, indicating you’re still employed when you’ve been laid off, let go, or have quit is dishonest. When job seekers ask me if they should do this, I tell them that, ideally, they should end their employment at a company a day after they lose the job.

That being said, pretending you’re still working for no more than three months is somewhat acceptable. Herein lies the problem: When a recruiter asks if you’re still at the company, you have to make up some story about how you haven’t gotten around to closing out the job. You’ll have to do some fancy dancing, and this may end the conversation immediately.

One could argue that at least you’ll have the opportunity to have a conversation with a recruiter or hiring manager. And that recruiter or manager might buy your tale.

2. Create Your Own ‘Company’

This is my second least preferred way to solve the unemployment conundrum. It fills the “current employment” field and, therefore, gives you more visits (no one really knows how many more), but it also screams “desperation.”

I’ve seen profiles with “unemployed” in the current field. Their place of work is therefore called “Unemployed.” How much value does this add to a person’s profile? None.

If you feel you need to go this route, at least show value by writing something like, “Project Manager Delivering Projects on Time, Under Budget.” Then explain the ways you’re going to put your talents to use helping your next employer. You can also write a brief objective statement.

3. Tell Employers in Your Headline

Obviously, the worst thing you can write is only something like “Unemployed,” “Seeking Next Opportunity,” or “Actively Looking for a Project Manager Position.” Any of these statements alone fail to express your value. Sure, they tell employers about your situation, but that’s about it.

Instead, show your value to the employer right out of the box: I will increase your production flow 85% by utilizing Lean Six Sigma, Manufacturing experience, and proven leadership” 

Keep in mind that space in your Headline is limited.  You’re allowed 120 characters, so make the best use of it.

4. The Best Way to Cover the Employment Gap – Volunteering

A Forbes article suggests including volunteer work in the experience section. I tend to agree. I can hear the critics bemoaning this practice—after all, it’s not paid employment! While this is true, volunteer work is exactly that—work. In some cases, you may even work harder than you would in paid employment.

If you are going to include volunteer work in your LinkedIn experience section, be sure to make a note of it by writing “Volunteer Work” next to the position. Do not mislead potential employers into thinking it is paid employment.

The volunteer work you list should be substantial and relevant. For example, if you’re a web developer, spending 20 hours a week developing a nonprofit’s website is a great way to showcase your existing skills and the new ones you may be learning.

Another thing to note: You can include recommendations with your volunteer experience, but only if you list it in the experience section of the profile. If you leave your volunteer work in the volunteer section, people will be precluded from sharing recommendations.

So, is it necessary to point out your unemployment status or falsify information on LinkedIn? Probably not. Covering an employment gap with volunteer experience is the best method, in my mind.

Which brings us to the topic of volunteering. I’ll save that for another post.

This post originally appeared in

Photo: Flickr, Tom Waterhouse

Are job seekers welcome on LinkedIn?

This is a question I’ve been asking myself since LinkedIn began to systematically remove features from its basic account and required its members to upgrade to premium accounts in order to get them back. I’m no fool in thinking that LinkedIn is a charity. But I wonder if it is slowly squeezing job seekers out of the overall picture.


One example of LinkedIn taking a valuable feature away from LinkedIn users is Unlimited Search. In order to have access to this valuable feature, members must pay for the Business premium account (for now), which costs $60 if bought on a monthly basis, and is of very little use to job seekers, based on the other features it offers.

But here’s the thing: the people who need this valuable feature are not only sales people who are trying to locate possible leads, or recruiters who are trying to source talent. People who also benefit from this feature are astute job seekers who are trying to locate connections at their desired companies, or optimize their profile.

This said, weekly unemployment benefits range from $235 (Mississippi) to $747 (Massachusetts) . On the minds of people out of work is how to pay important bills like their mortgage, college tuition, groceries, car payments, etc. So once the bills are paid, the likelihood of shelling out $60 a month is nil. In fact, it might put them in debt.

(Even for many people who are gainfully employed, the chances of paying $60 a month for the features, that were once free, is a stretch.)

The least expensive premium account (for now)  is called Career. It costs $30 a month. It doesn’t offer Unlimited Searches, but job seekers can benefit from direct communication with recruiters, access to, and candidate statistics. Oh, let me not forget, people who’ve viewed your profile in the last 90 days is also a feature.

Although half the cost of Business premium, the job seekers with whom I speak say this package is also too expensive for them as they’re struggling to live on their unemployment benefits.

So what are most job seekers left with? The basic plan. And according to my valued colleague, Marc Miller, this free plan is dead or slowly dying. I, like many of my fellow LinkedIn instructors, don’t want to see this happen.

A Possible Solution

Now, I’m not one to raise a complaint without providing a solution. To do that would be unfair to LinkedIn’s decision makers. So here’s my solution.

I’m currently paying $9.99 a month  for a health club membership I’m not using. Although I haven’t ended the membership, I barely feel the cost, unless I look at my expenses online. I would NOT feel the expense if LinkedIn were to charge me the same fee, as long as I get rid of the $9.99 monkey on my back (health club membership fee.

Job seekers would feel the expense of $9.99 a month, but if they are serious about using LinkedIn to find a job would most likely cough it up. They would have to give up two trips to Starbucks.

The first part of my solution is to charge all LinkedIn members $9.99 a month. With millions of loyal LinkedIn members paying $120 a year, that’s some serious cash for LinkedIn. Features that job seekers need, Unlimited Search, job statistics, and a limited number InMails to recruiters would be available to everyone.

Business people could opt to upgrade to the Sales Navigator premium account (currently $80 a month) that offers features required for business success, which include 20 InMails, Sales Insights, Advanced Search with Lead Builder, Who’s Viewed Your Profile, Unlimited People Search, and tagging. In other words, features serious salespeople would benefit from.

Another positive outcome from charging a $9.99 fee would be a lot of dead wood leaving LinkedIn. This might result in 100 million non-users closing their accounts. But the remaining members would be quality users generating leads, partnerships, and ultimately sales. As well, job seekers serious about their search would pay the fee.

I’m not a mathematician, but a rough estimate of the revenue LinkedIn could bring in at 300 million legitimate members is $3 billion a month, $36 billion a year. Throw in what corporations are spending on the Recruiter Lite and Corporation Recruiter premium accounts, LinkedIn is still making serious cash.

LinkedIn’s Response

As one of my connections told me, “LinkedIn is trying to profit from its product. Can we blame them?” Of course not. No business is in it to give money away. Eventually LinkedIn would like to see the majority of its members paying $80 a month for its Sales Navigaror premium account.

Of course many LinkedIn users will remain basic users, some will upgrade to a lesser-priced account, and a select few will opt for the $80 package. Another zinger LinkedIn has delivered is that faithful LinkedIn members must purchase the Sales package to continue to receive a Advanced Searches, a feature they haven’t had to pay for for 14 years.

Job seekers would find the Sales premium account impossible to manage and really have no need for the features the Sales premium provides, except for Unlimited People Searches.


LinkedIn’s goal is to create a unique clientele base that can afford the steep price of $80.00 a month, which leaves job seekers out of the picture. The company may argue that job seekers can still use the basic or Career accounts. But already the all-important Unlimited Searches has been stripped from job seekers, forcing them to upgrade to a $60 premium account they can’t afford.

What it means to people like me, who teach LinkedIn to job seekers in a nonprofit agency, is that we will lose our clientele. We’ll have to adapt and train LinkedIn users who can afford the outrageous price of Sales premium account.

For recruiters it means they’ll lose many job seekers to source for jobs they need to fill. They might be more successful looking on Facebook and Twitter for job seekers.

As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn was developed to help businesses better network with other businesses. LinkedIn’s proud statement that the average member makes over $100k indicates that LinkedIn is not dedicated to help job seekers.

However, LinkedIn doesn’t have to give up its vision of having the majority of its members purchase the Sales Navigator premium account. I’ve heard from many people in the business sectors who are pumped to use the benefits of this account, even though it costs $80.00 a month.

Photo, Flickr, Peter Grifoni

9 facts about LinkedIn lite profile vs. the LinkedIn profile we knew

At this point I count roughly 10 posts and a few videos explaining the differences between the old (or for some, current) user interface (UI) and the new and improved one. I hope this isn’t the 11th post you’ve seen on this topic.


Having played with the new UI—no I don’t have it—there are some very nice features and some disappointments. For this post, I’m going to focus on the profile.

My first thought is, be careful what you wish for. One nice thing about the new profile is it is slimmed down and more visual. However, it will take a learning curve for some to find the various sections of the new profile. Let’s start at the top.

1. The Summary

new-snapshot-areaI was warned ahead of time that the Summary section of the new profile is no longer titled Summary. In fact it’s not in the body of the profile; rather it’s in the Snapshot area (photo above, boxed in red), and…a visitor can only see the first two lines of it. Therefore, it’s important that you utilize these two lines to grab the reader’s interest.

My only concern here is that visitors won’t realize that they need to click “See more” in order to…see more. Get used to clicking “see more,” as LinkedIn has done its best to condense the profile as much as it could.

I heard there was talk about removing the Rich Media areas (under Summary, in Experience and Education), but LinkedIn held off on that silly idea. Rich Media is still there.

2. What About Those Three Dots and Contact and Personal Information?


The Three Dots. The placement of actions like removing connections, unfollowing, requesting and writing recommendations will take some time for recipients of the new UI to get used to, but the information is nicely placed.

The same applies to the Contact and Personal Info section which drops down to reveal the information visitors would see if they choose the Info tab on the older version. Unfortunately the public URL for someone is located in this area, instead of in plain view just below one’s photo.

3. Highlights and Posts and Activities


Don’t blink when you near these sections because there’s a lot of information packed into these sections. In Highlights visitors can see our mutual connections, as shown. However, in order to see all my connections, one must click on this area and choose “All.”

Bob’s Posts & Activities. This is where a great deal of information is located, including my articles, posts, and all activities. Articles are ones I’ve written on LinkedIn; this is straight forward. What is not straight forward is the difference between posts and activities. As far as I can tell, they’re one in the same.

Note: Unlike the older version, only one article is displayed. In the older version, three were displayed, which meant you had to had to have at least three written not to be embarrassed, but I’m sure LinkedIn’s motive behind this wasn’t to save you from being embarrassed.

4. The Experience Section

new-experience-sectionAgain the new model of more is less is in play in the Experience section. One is able to see the entire first job listed (not shown above), but must click to see more for the remaining jobs.

My concern here is that a person with a feeble current or most recent job will not show as much value as someone who has a more extensive and accomplish-laden job to show. Also, people who have two jobs must choose which one to demonstrate first.

Or, we can simply rely on visitors to click on every job to see their descriptions.

5. Pause

Have you noticed that I’m talking about the new profile in a specific order, e.g. Summary followed by Experience. With the new profile, you cannot move the sections around.

This is a problem for me, because I prefer to follow my Summary with my Skills and Endorsements. I also have a problem with authority, and this is a total power play by LinkedIn, in my opinion.

6. Education

Not much to report here. Because this section can’t be moved, this may cause a problem for students and recent grads.

7. Volunteer Experience

What surprises me is that this section comes before Skills and Endorsements. This section hasn’t changed much, save for the fact that visitors must expand each volunteer experience. I wonder what LinkedIn was thinking when they made this decision for me.

8. Featured Skills and Endorsements & Recommendations


Finally we see the skills and recommendations. First, visitors notice that only the top three skills are displayed. Secondly, only one endorser is displayed, whereas with the older UI, at least ten endorsers are displayed. This is not detrimental. In fact it can be seen as a positive when we’re talking about slimming down the profile.

What I find very promising is that Recommendations are just below Featured Skills and Endorsements. This is significant because in the older version, Recommendations was anchored at the bottom of the profile, giving me and others the feeling that perhaps this section was on its way out. At the very least, it was given less prestige; much like skills are given now.

9. The Rest

Certifications, Organizations, and Projects are listed under Accomplishments. Prior, they had their own real estate, but now they’re buried under this header. And yes, they must be expanded like most sections.

Do you remember painstakingly listing your professional and personal interests under Interests? Well forget it; that section has been retired, as far as I can see. Shame.

Following includes my activities and interests. This is redundant information because visitors will see the section called Bob’s Posts & Activity directly below my Highlights section.

It makes sense that LinkedIn shows the influencers, companies, groups, and schools I’m following, all of which visitors must expand in order to see more of each.

Is Less Better

I think you’ll agree when you receive the new UI that in some cases less is better. However, the inability to move sections around as you once had the ability to do; and making you have to expand most sections, including the Summary–you might find the older version more to your liking. Or you might appreciate the lighter version of your new profile. The jury is still out for me.

Photo: Flickr, Eva Woo


3 things to consider when an interviewer asks, “Why should we hire you?”

For many job seekers, “Why should we hire you?” is one of the most difficult interview questions to answer. Don’t take it from me – take it from my clients, who list this as one of the hardest questions presented by interviewers.


I understand their concerns. To answer this question, you have to articulate what the interviewer is trying to ascertain. In addition, you have to make your answer relevant to the job at hand and demonstrate the value you’ll bring to the company.

In other words, you can’t use a canned answer for every employer with whom you interview.

The secret to answering this question is that you must address the three things employers look for in their employees. The first is that you can do the job, the second is that you will do the job, and the third is that you will fit in.

1. You Can Do the Job

Having the technical know-how is essential to performing the job and advancing in your career. That includes software and hardware proficiency, specialized knowledge, etc. However, transferable skills can be just as important, if not more important.

It’s imperative that you understand the job extremely well and can address the technical and transferable skills. You do not have to address every single skill in your answer, as that will take too long. Begin your answer with something similar to the following:

“I have a thorough understanding of the role and am confident I can meet the challenges it presents. For example, you require excellent leadership abilities, which I’ve demonstrated in every position I’ve had. You also need someone who can improve the visibility of your organization …”

You can cite additional examples. Just don’t belabor the point.

2. You Will Do the Job

The interview will also want to know if you’re in love with the responsibilities of the role and the mission of the organization. Will you work until the job is finished? Will you overcome obstacles?

Why you want to work for the company is another concern they’ll have. I tell my clients that no company wants someone who’s just looking for any job they can get.

Here’s an example of how you might address your motivation to do the job:

“This position presents an exciting opportunity to take on new challenges that I will embrace. I’ve always stood up to obstacles and worked to overcome them. In addition, I’ve researched this organization and am truly impressed with the product you produce and your mission of helping special groups.”

3. You Will Fit In

Whether or not you’ll be a good fit is a major concern many employers have, and it’s also a tough thing for you to prove. It’s all about your personality. A company doesn’t want to hire someone it will have to let go because the hire couldn’t get along with their coworkers.

Of the three components employers look for in their employees, this might be the most important. There are plenty of talented people out there who can hit the ground running, but not everyone can play well with their colleagues.

Your fit is difficult to prove without data or good recommendations from your references, but try to provide as much hard proof as possible:

“In my performance reviews, I’ve always scored high on interpersonal skills. I know the clients you serve; it will require excellent teamwork in order to serve them effectively. If you ask my former colleagues and supervisors, I’m sure they’ll tell you how I’ve pitched in when needed and without being asked.”

Tying It All Together

Explain how you’ll exceed the employer’s needs based not only on being able to meet the three major components, but also by emphasizing how you will be integral to the success of the company. Going into the interview, know how important your role to the organization is:

“The next marketing specialist you hire will be crucial in creating a strong presence in the direct community and beyond. I can assure you, based on my experience with doing this, I am your person. This is ultimately why you should hire me.”

Learn how to answer other tough questions like:

“What is your greatest weakness?”
“Tell me about yourself.”

This post originally appeared in

Photo: Flickr, Enri Endrian

5 ways a successful job search counts on how you treat people

I tell my daughter, who is often late for appointments, that life is about minutes. The first time I told her this was when she missed a train into Boston by a few minutes. Not just when catching a train, I went on to explain; but when you have an appointment of any kind.


The message I delivered to my daughter particularly applies to the job search. Here are five notable examples of how a successful job search counts on how you treat people :

1. Be punctual. When I think about the conversation with my daughter about how minutes matter in life, I think that not only is it important to be punctual when you need to make a train. Punctuality is also important when you’ve made arrangements to meet fellow networkers or potential decision makers.

Especially when you’re scheduled for an interview that will determine whether you get the job or not. Or if you’re meeting someone at a coffee shop for a networking meeting. You don’t want to keep people waiting.

2. First impressions count. You might be rolling your eyes at this well-known fact, but I’m talking about internalizing and embracing this. Yes, you can practice how to shake hands, maintain eye contact, dress for the occasion; but this is something you must do every day.

Think beyond the interview if you want to conduct a successful job search. Your first impressions must be outstanding during networking events, while you’re connecting in your community, even at family gatherings.  If practicing your first impressions is what you have to do, then practice them every day.

3. The way you communicate matters in all forms. Of course your written and verbal communications—which includes your resume, networking, and the interview—are important. But communicating effectively also includes listening and not over-talking.

Over-talking you wonder. Is it even a word? Treating someone with respect means allowing them to do some of the talking, at least. I’ve been to too many networking events where someone feels the need to dominate the conversation. Telling me what they do doesn’t require them to talk without coming up for air.

4. Think of others in your network. One of my favorite posts I wrote is 5 ways to give when you’re networking for a job. This isn’t one of my favorite posts because it garnered many views; it’s a favorite because it talks about the importance of giving back in the job search.

True networkers don’t think only of themselves; they think of others as well. Treat others well by reciprocating when someone does a favor for you. But you don’t need to wait for someone to help you first. Turn the table by doing something helpful to other job seekers. Offer advice on their resume or LinkedIn profile or provide a lead, of offer great advice.

5. Meet your stakeholder’s expectations. This raises the question, who are your stakeholders? The most obvious one is a potential employer. Meet their expectations by networking yourself into becoming a referral. Submit a resume that speaks to the their needs and backs up your claims with accomplishment statements. Go to the interview prepared by having done your research.

Other stakeholders include your network. Related to the previous way to treat others well in your job search, consider ways to reach out to various stakeholders like the community in which you live. For example, when you have time, shovel your neighbors driveway, or help them move furniture. Help them help you by giving them a clear understanding of what you do and what your goals are.

Consider volunteering at a nonprofit that can use your talent. One example would be developing a website for your son’s preschool.Take over the bookkeeping for a start-up. Offering your marketing assistance to a restaurant that is suffering.

The success of your job search will depend on how you treat other people, whether they’re other job seekers; your neighbors; and, of course, potential employers. It comes down to more than just being punctual, you must heed your first impressions, communicate properly, treat your network well, and satisfy your stakeholders. When all of this comes into place, your chances of landing a job will be greater.

5 times when TMI hurts your job search

When my wife and daughters talk about bras and other female accessories in my presence, that’s too much information (TMI) for me. Or when they reveal certain information on the relationship of one of my girl’s boyfriend, that’s also TMI.

tmiWhen my older customers introduce themselves during our networking events, they may reveal TMI. Such as how they were let go from their previous employer, or how they have been out of work for a certain number of months, or that they’re lost in their job search.

What these folks fail to realize is that there are situations when disclosing your deepest and darkest secrets is not a wise move. And a networking event is one of them. So when is it harmful to your job search to disclose TMI?

The answer I’d like to give is always, but that’s unrealistic and a very cold statement. There should be times when you can voice your frustrations, such as with family members and close friends. There should be times when you can let your guard down.

But let’s look at times when you shouldn’t.

Networking Events

I’ve already mentioned networking events. But this deserves more discussion because this is a time when you have a large number of people listening to you deliver your elevator pitch, or simply talking with you one-on-one.

This is a time when most people are listening for confidence, not defeatism; when they want to hear a positive tone, despite your feeling of despondency. After all, the purpose of networking is to create relationships that are beneficial to you and your networking partners.

Community Networking

Many people don’t realize that whenever they talk with someone in their community, there’s a chance, slight as it might be, that they might know of someone with whom you can speak, heard about a job opening, or even know the hiring manager of the department in which you’d like to work.

Therefore, it’s wise to not disclose TMI to anyone with whom you speak outside the home. Sometimes in my workshops I’ll listen to people as they talk about how they were unjustly let go. Workshops are part of your community and not where you should share this information unless asked.

I reiterate, if you want assistance from people, you need to come across as calm, friendly, and even confident. If you appear confident, others will be confident in your abilities.

Online Networking

Often I’ll see TMI shared on LinkedIn. What people need to realize is that recruiters, hiring managers, and HR are trolling LinkedIn for talent and that they read what people write. So if you come across as angry or you share inappropriate posts, you’re hurting your cause.

The same applies to Facebook and Twitter. I am acutely aware of the content people share on Facebook, content that would severely hurt people’s chances of getting a job (have you seen the F bomb thrown around on Facebook?).

Many people reason that because they’re working, they don’t need to be concerned about sharing TMI. To them I say, “Nothing lasts forever, including your job.”

Family gatherings

Family member would love to help you find your next job and get out of unemployment. They really would. However, many of them are not in a position to help you. Sure, they may hear about an opportunity that seems right for you…85 miles from your home.

Am I saying you shouldn’t let family know you’re out of work? No, not at all. Just be selective as to which family members you share a great deal of information with. Cousin John, for example, is in your industry and understands the job of an accountant. Therefore, he is an ideal person to talk to at length.

The others. They’re the ones who you mention in passing that you are in transition. Explain what type of job you’re looking for and some of your best strengths. Going into a long drawn-out story about your unfortunate situation will probably garner some sympathy, but will not instill confidence in you.


There are questions that are meant to determine if you raise any read flags. The most obvious are the weakness question, why you left your last job, and even tell me about yourself. Be aware of questions like this. Don’t disclose too much information that can hurt you.

Rather share information that shows the value you bring to an organization. Your answers to questions that ask for a negative result should be brief; no longer than 30 seconds. And they should always circle back to what you’ve learned from the experience.

Ironically my clients tend to describe every nuance of their weakness. At times I need to put up my hand and loudly say, “Stop.” Then they ask me if they’ve gone too far. TMI. Interviewers do want to hear self-awareness, but enough is enough. TMI.

As career consultants, we always stress telling the truth. But there is such thing as too much information (TMI). Know when you need to speak in a positive manner, as when you’re out and about; and know when you should avoid disclosing TIM at interviews.

4 things to keep in mind when answering “What is your greatest weakness?”

A conversation I had in the past with my daughter aroused in me emotions of both concern and relief. Yes, two conflicting emotions, but the feeling that stays with me is the feeling of relief.

Job interview

Relief because she was truthful about her faux pas, her display of bad judgement. All was forgiven, although not forgotten.

“This is what the truth accomplishes,” I told her.

This is what you get when you ask your kids to be honest, regardless of the response. But is the truth always the best policy?

That depends.

What Is Your Greatest Weaknesses?

What interviewers get from candidates in response to this interview question aren’t always honest answers. Candidates are guarded, weighing every word they say; because they feel one wrong answer can blow the deal.

For this reason, I think this is the dumbest interview question ever. Nonetheless, I ask my workshop attendees this dumb question, because I know they will be asked it in an interview.

So when I spring the question on my workshop attendees, I often get a moment of silence. Their minds are working like crazy to come up with the correct answer. They think the best answer is one that demonstrates a strength disguised as a weakness.

So they come up with answers like, “I work too hard,” or worse yet, “I’m a perfectionist.” I tell them these answers rank high on the B.S. scale, at which they laugh. But it’s true. These answers are predictable. They’re throwaway answers, wasted breath.

Instead, I advise my workshop attendees to follow these simple steps.

1. Keep It Very Short: I can’t tell you how many people talk on and on when their answer should be no longer than 20-30 seconds.

2. State a Legitimate Weakness: Interviewers want transparency. They also want to see self-awareness – that you’re aware of your mistakes. People who think they’re flawless are unable to see their mistakes, learn from them, and correct them.

3. Be Smart, Though: I asked at the beginning if honesty is always the best policy. The real question is, how honest should you be? In other words, don’t mention a weakness that is vital to the position at hand.

For example, bringing up your fear of public speaking when you’re applying for a training position would be a major problem and probably eliminate you from consideration.

4. Talk About What You’re Doing to Address Your WeaknessThis is of great interest to the interviewer, and something people tend to leave out of their answers.

shadowReturning to the training position example: If you were to say that you tend to talk too much during your presentations, but that you have learned to ask more questions to generate engagement, that would be an answer that is honest and shows your efforts to correct your weakness.

People Make Mistakes

Smart interviewers understand that candidates make mistakes. No one is flawless. They don’t want to hear you dance around this question. It’s a waste of their time and just makes you look silly.

Furthermore, interviewers want to hear self-awareness. They want to be sure that you know what your weaknesses are and are doing something to correct them. Self-awareness speaks to your emotional intelligence (EQ), which is necessary if you want to succeed in the workplace.

Lynda Spiegel, a job coach who has interviewed hundreds of candidates, believes transparency is the best policy:

“There’s nothing to be gained by candidates trying to bluff their weaknesses. To act as though a strength is a weakness (“I can’t seem to turn off my work email when on vacation”) is disingenuous, and to claim that there are no weaknesses lacks credibility. The best way for candidates to approach questions about their weaknesses is to acknowledge one or two, explain what they’ve done to address them, and then move on to their strengths.”

The weakness question is one I consider to be … well, dumb. It lacks creativity and doesn’t address the requirements of the position. But it’s also a question everyone should be able to answer before they get to the interview.

To Review:

  1. Keep your answer short.
  2. Be honest, but not too honest.
  3. Explain what you’ve learned from your weakness and the measures you’re taking to correct it.
  4. Practice your answer before arriving at the interview.

Back to My Daughter

I appreciated my daughter’s transparency and, as a result, I now trust her more than I would have if she hadn’t told the truth. In addition, I understand she’ll make mistakes in the future.

This is not too different from the reaction an interviewer will have when a job candidate shows transparency. Interviewers trust candidates more when those candidates are honest (to a point).

Now read how to answer other tough questions:

“Why should we hire you?”
“Tell me about yourself.”