Recruiters.

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  • Recruiters.
  • batfink
    Member

    Any interviewer that asks the weakness question is a imbecile in my book….. the only thing it demonstrates is that the interviewee has taken the time to pre-prepare a “weakness” that doesn’t make them sound like a total tool (eg: “I’m a perfectionist”). If that’s valuable, they may as well just have an egg-and-spoon race to appoint for the role.

    I think all interviews i’ve ever had bar one has been performed by imbeciles as they spend more time following the HR line of questioning to ‘determine’ my suitability for the role.

    Why can’t interviewers just make it more informal and ask questions about the job in hand – i am more likely to be myself rather than a gibbering idiot trying to think of something to say other than some cliche but inevitably says the cliche thus making me sound like every other candidate!

    Batfink, agreed.

    Premier Icon fadda
    Subscriber

    It’s large organisations trying to create a “level-playing field”, innit.

    Generally, my CV will tell them whether I can do the job or not, the interview should serve to a) verify what my CV says, and B) let them and me see if I’d fit with their team.

    This is a bit subjective, though, so HR (and their lawyers) always insist on a set of questions, common to each candidate, that could feasibly be used, should they ever have to justify their decision.

    magowen100
    Member

    It’s a lazy question but in the right situation can be useful. Most people interpret it just as you have i.e. try to make the weakness insignificant (bad at excel) or turn it into a positive but what I look for (though I’m not a recruiter!) is someone who is aware of thier weaknesses and actively manages them.
    For example one candidate said my weakness is that I’m a perfectionist (stock answer nil points), the other said something like ‘ I enjoy the detail in things and at times need to step back, so I work best with a person who is able to give me that freedim but also direct me when I get too involved’. Guess who got the job. 😀

    don simon
    Member

    This is a bit subjective, though, so HR (and their lawyers) always insist on a set of questions, common to each candidate, that could feasibly be used, should they ever have to justify their decision.

    That makes sense. Cheers.

    Guess who got the job.

    The candidate that could actually do it?
    My point is that being bad at Excel isn’t a weakness, I’m pretty crap at open heart surgery, but I don’t consider it to be a weakness. 😕

    magowen100
    Member

    If you’ve got to interview you can all do the job.

    My favourite response to this was when I was doing headhunting stuff. Put a candidate through to shortlist interview, and made it clear that the client was someone who liked a sense of humour.

    The question was asked……

    Candidate replied, “Well, if I’m honest about it……I really don’t like cats.”

    Junkyard
    Member

    its a stupid question nd they my s well ask you to lie to them for a few minutes..

    Has anyone said I am lazy, slovenly and I will consume your bandwidth skiving on STW?

    If it wants anything it is some sort of self awareness that you are not perfect but you take steps to remedy any area of weakness.

    Stupid, stupid question.

    don simon
    Member

    Could you please explain to me the background to the interview question about weaknesses?
    I’ve spoken about it with many people over the years and have come to the conclusion that it’s a misguided question as people have characteristics that are different and abilities which are not weaknesses per se.
    Any weaknesses are relevant to a particular position and an inability to complete the tasks within the position, no?
    If often seen putting down “Not up to speed with Excel” as a recommended weakness, or, “Not well organised” which can be weaknesses or strengths depending on the position being applied for.
    I don’t agree with the changing a weakness into a strength but equally I don’t really see the relevance of the weakness question.
    Which all means I have no weaknesses just things I can or can’t do or certain characteristics. Which can only be good, can’t it? 😆

    sugdenr
    Member

    Isn’t it like asking a waiter ‘Tell me what I ought to avoid on the menu, you know what is the chef’s ‘weakness’ dish’

    batfink
    Member

    “STW forum in full agreement shocker”

    Come on…. somebody say something about carbs

    Come on…. somebody say something about carbs

    They actually are my weakness – I love bread!

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    the only thing it demonstrates is that the interviewee has taken the time to pre-prepare a “weakness” that doesn’t make them sound like a total tool (eg: “I’m a perfectionist”).

    You don’t see a value in asking a question to see if a candidate has done any preparation and research before undertaking a task? I do.

    It serves a few purposes, IMHO.

    1) it highlights candidates who have researched, as above.

    2) For the rest, it highlights candidates who can think on their feet with tricky questions.

    3) Just occasionally, you get some absolutely blinding answers. I remember one guy, otherwise perfect candidate, fessing up that he had anger management issues and was fired from his last job after having a fist-fight with his boss.

    don simon
    Member

    I’d go along with number 1 only, Cougar. It demonstrates that a candidate has enough nous to plan an answer.
    Think on their feet? Tricky?
    As for point 3, it’d depend on the job as to whether it was a strength or weakness. 😛

    batfink
    Member

    yay! Debate!

    it highlights candidates who have researched, as above.

    Because the use of this question is so predictable you’d be a halfwit not to have something prepared, so all that it actually tells you “this person is not a halfwit…. now on to the egg-and-spoon test”

    For the rest, it highlights candidates who can think on their feet with tricky questions.

    It’s neither tricky, or unpredictable, so does neither of those things really.

    Just occasionally, you get some absolutely blinding answers

    That must have been a good interview to sit in, how did he take the news that he didn’t get the job?!?!

    I like the classic: “so why do you want this job?”….. simple, tells you a lot about the person, their motivation, if they’ve researched the role, all sorts.

    brooess
    Member

    I struggle being interviewed by HR people who’ve never done my job – so how can they evaluate my answers and decide if I should go through to the next round…? I guess this is where questions like that come from… standardised, non job-specific questions.

    Although when I;ve recruited in the past I would often ask some ‘standard’ questions like that simply to be able to make a like for like comparison across the various candidates. for e.g. some people answer that question as tho they have no weaknesses – which suggest arrogance or lack of self-awareness to me, and not someone I’d want to work with. Alternatively if they’ve clearly not prepared for such a predictable question, I wonder how much prep they’ve done and whether they really want the job…

    So I agree, it’s a bit weak but prob has its uses

    “so why do you want this job?”

    that’s an easy one – I billz to pay innit! plus the fact I have to fund a massive cocaine habit, oh and then there’s the hookers too, I have to pay them!

    magowen100
    Member

    I like the classic: “so why do you want this job?”….. simple, tells you a lot about the person, their motivation, if they’ve researched the role, all sorts.

    It does give you some information but like all interview questions you’ll probably get a list of trite answers about why they think you want them to want the job. Let’s face it you didn’t have to work for a living would you?
    The weakness question is lazy but the number of people in this thread who’ve mis-interpreted it (I’m bad at excell/ I’m a perfectionist etc)shows it’s actually useful.

    don simon
    Member

    number of people in this thread who’ve mis-interpreted it (I’m bad at excell/ I’m a perfectionist etc)

    Who’s done that? If I could identify the mis-interpretations I’d be closer to having my original question answered.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    Think on their feet? Tricky?

    For a graduate in his / her first interview? Sure. It’d have legged me up when I was 19.

    Because the use of this question is so predictable you’d be a halfwit not to have something prepared, so all that it actually tells you “this person is not a halfwit…. now on to the egg-and-spoon test”

    Depends on the level of position you’re advertising for, but a halfwit filter can often be very valuable.

    how did he take the news that he didn’t get the job?!?!

    Remotely.

    I struggle being interviewed by HR people who’ve never done my job

    Other than as passive observers for compliance reasons, I’ve never really understood why HR need to be involved in recruitment at all (unless you’re recruiting HR staff).

    I’ve never really understood why HR need to be involved in recruitment at all (unless you’re recruiting HR staff).

    to make sure you are not being racist/ageist/sexist or plain old discriminatory to other groups of vulnerable minorities

    the background to the interview question about weaknesses

    Maybe it’s asked to see how candidates react to stupid questions?

    Some degree of diplomacy is needed in most jobs, and it’s good to know you’re hiring someone who doesn’t show signs of flying off the handle or getting all sulky at every opportunity or potential perceived sleight.

    SamCooke
    Member

    I’ve spent most of today interviewing, i asked the weaknesses questionbut phrased differently. Folks are telling me what they are good at, but iwant to know what i can help them with or areas in which they feel they want or need to develop

    TheBrick
    Member

    I laughed at the interviewer last time some one asked me that. Came out with some bullshit, and still got the job. Now knowing the guy who interviewed me better I don’t think he understood why I laughed.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    to make sure you are not being racist/ageist/sexist or plain old discriminatory to other groups of vulnerable minorities

    That’s what I just said:

    Other than as passive observers for compliance reasons

    Why do they need to be taking an active part?

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    iwant to know what i can help them with or areas in which they feel they want or need to develop

    That’s a good point actually, I forgot that. It can highlight personal development training requirements, eg assertiveness training.

    batfink
    Member

    I’d be closer to having my original question answered.

    Are you kidding? This is a GOLDMINE of practical and helpful advice!

    “I’m a perfectionist”

    “Well, if I’m honest about it……I really don’t like cats.”

    I love bread!

    I am lazy, slovenly and I will consume your bandwidth skiving on STW?

    anger management issues and was fired from his last job after having a fist-fight with his boss.

    but on a more serious note, something like this is probably the best way to answer it:

    I enjoy the detail in things and at times need to step back, so I work best with a person who is able to give me that freedom but also direct me when I get too involved’

    don simon
    Member

    but iwant to know what i can help them with or areas in which they feel they want or need to develop

    It depends on the position then which means you can’t prepare, no?

    SamCooke
    Member

    Of course the weakness is with regard to the position. To be honest if the candidate didn’t realise that, then i think they’ve already answered the question.

    magowen100
    Member

    Apologies DS re-reading the first post it was me that had mis-interpreted your original question.
    To try and answer that question…

    I’ve spoken about it with many people over the years and have come to the conclusion that it’s a misguided question as people have characteristics that are different and abilities which are not weaknesses per se.
    Any weaknesses are relevant to a particular position and an inability to complete the tasks within the position, no?

    The weaknesses are relevant to the role, in the team/group and in the company as a whole. So in the example you gave of ‘I’m not very good at excell’ it is irrelevant as if the candidate is being interviewed they can do the job and if that involves excell then, on paper, they can do it. The relevant weakness then is the one that the interviewer feels can be incorporated into the strengths/ weaknesses of the existing team and this is information the candidate normally won’t have before the interview (which is why stock answers don’t work).
    So the question weeds out the halfwits, shows that people have an awareness of themselves and others; and to a certain extent that they think on thier feet as the best answers can’t be totally prepared. BUT the question is a cliche now so is normally phrased a different way as people expect it and give robot answers.

    don simon
    Member

    Cheers magowan100, that clears it up.

    DS – I believe that it is a weak and cliched question in its usual format. I am not surprised however that many HR professionals still use it, hence I try to keep them out of any (senior) interview process as much as possible (sorry, but true!).

    In my last company we had an internal business school and in Executive-Level classes there were interesting materials presented that get round this silly question – at least a senior professional levels. So-called deraillers at the top executive levels were identified and then discussed in the sense that when they are strengths and when they are weaknesses? IMO, the ability to understand a personal characteristic and recognise when its can be a positive and when it can cross the line is a more sensible way to consider these issues.* Duke Business School in the US have written a lot on this. I will try to find a link if it is of interest but it may have been a one-off.

    * edit: as opposed to thinking about separate strengths and weaknesses. I hope that’s clear!

    don simon
    Member

    So-called deraillers at the top executive levels were identified and then discussed in the sense that when they are strengths and when they are weaknesses?

    You’re now pushing the weaknesses back into personality/characteristic sector which is more apparent as you climb the ladder and play at executive level.
    Again not really a weakness, just a mis-match.
    The article would be quite interesting if you could dig it out (it’s not too long and has pictures 😉 ). Cheers.

    magowen100
    Member

    DS – I believe that it is a weak and cliched question in its usual format. I am not surprised however that many HR professionals still use it, hence I try to keep them out of any (senior) interview process as much as possible (sorry, but true!).

    Not sure if that’s aimed at me but I’m nothing to do with Human Remains! I just think that while its a lazy question in the format of ‘tell me about your weaknesses’ it can still have value. The question keeps getting rephrased into whatever the current vogue is; tell me about your last failure, tell me about a time you didn’t succeed etc etc.

    In essence it is all the same. It makes no difference what your weakness/failure is, it is only about how you manage it (or get others to) and how that fits into the existing context of the team/buisness. The interview is two way so the best answer is always the one that gives out information, in the example I used above the guy got the job because he was aware enough of his own skills to know how he would work best and was telling the interviewer the type of boss he needed. If that was not what the role needed he wouldn’t have got the job.

    No magowan, it wasn’t aimed at you or anyone specifically. Apologies if it came across as such.

    It’s potentially a good question, it’s often not:

    The reason for the question being asked should be to find out about an individuals self awareness. Everyone has weaknesses, but do they have the self confidence and ability to realise what they are and what they need to do to compensate or develop them. Coming up with a “I’m just such a perfectionist” answer should be considered poorly taking the above into account.

    A lot of the time the reason that this question is asked is because it’s considered a “standard” interview question, therefore it is asked for the sake of it.

    Source: 7 years in recruitment and currently run my own recruitment company.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Good interviewers can throw these questions in well and read the answers.

    The other 95% were asked it and then ask it themselves.

    Last one I had didn’t ask but it was a crap interview, the guy announced that it was a Competency based interview (as opposed to??) and that he would ask questions to see if I fitted the skill set required.

    Cue 7 questions read from a sheet with no effort or desire to hear of get any info that wasn’t on the sheet. Got the feeling that personality was not required and mostly frowned upon.

    Later heard most people last a year max in the organisation.

    SSBonty
    Member

    Right, so what do you do when you are relatively self-aware, and know that one of your weaknesses is indeed that you are a perfectionist, and sometimes need to step back from the details in order to complete a project, or work with bosses/colleagues who can gently nudge you to do that? As far as I can see on here, most folks interviewing would just go ‘oh, rubbish stock answer, has no personality, next!’!

    atlaz
    Member

    I have to admit, when I first did interviews I used to take a list of questions. Nowadays I’m a little random in how I interview and treat it more as a conversation where I see where it will take me. The weakness question (along with the strength one) are pointless for the most part except in some very senior hires because most people answer with the same formulaic bullshit.

    My purpose in interviewing you is to work out if your CV is a pack of lies so I’m more likely to ask you to justify what you’ve written, make sure that you’ve actually done what you said (were you REALLY leading a project or just working on it) and assess team/company fit. I leave skills tests, if needed, to your peers as they’d need to work with you.

    Typically if a candidate can’t hold a conversation with me about themselves and their work for 30-60 minutes, they’re probably not going to work out.

    Premier Icon FuzzyWuzzy
    Subscriber

    It’s a crap question and bollocks to being ‘self aware’, no candidate wants to admit to a weakness in an interview as they have no idea how it’s going to be interpreted. It’s all well and good saying it shows someone has identified and area they need to work on but it’s just as likely it could be a deal breaker if someone else short-listed answered differently.

    Thankfully we don’t have HR people sit in on our interviews for technical roles, I just have to ask a few HR-ish questions (including a variation on the weakness one). I make a point of saying they’re just mandatory bullshit questions I have to ask though and not to worry about any answers given.

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