Common mistakes. Easy fixes. (part one)

Common mistakes. Easy fixes. (part one)

This post is part one in a series on common mistakes made by job applicants and easy fixes for addressing those mistakes.

"What would you describe as your greatest strengths and weaknesses?"

This is one of the more frustrating (and most common) questions that a potential employer might ask you during an interview. It is also a question that most applicants respond to incorrectly.

Let's start with the worst possible (and most common) response to this question:

"My greatest strength is also my greatest weakness." This is generally followed by a discussion about how the applicant tends to work too hard, or that they pay too much attention to detail, or some variation of this. As an employer, I'm not a big fan of this question, but I do ask it, specifically to see if the applicant will respond in this manner. Even if you are being honest, this response will come across as completely phony.

Here's a better way to respond:

First, state your greatest strength. Make sure you backup your strength with a specific example (or even better, a specific accomplishment). For example, if your greatest strength is your ability to effectively multi-task, you might talk about a time when you coordinated multiple projects with a successful outcome.

Second, state a real weakness of yours (you want to be careful here, don't provide a weakness that will jeopardize your chances of getting hired) and most importantly, talk about what you have done and what you are doing to address this weakness. Everyone has weaknesses and employers want to know whether you are aware of those weaknesses and if you're working to address them (basically, if you're a problem solver). For example, if your weakness is that you have trouble being alert at work in the morning, you might want to talk about how you've started going to the gym before work, and how that's helped you show up awake and ready to perform.

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Adam Sterling is the founder of getpickd