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DTSMAN (TechnicalUser) (OP)
11 Nov 07 20:19
I am currently interviewing and haven't in over 10 years. They ask me my strengths as well as my weaknesses.
 What should I say or not say to this? Is there something safe to say that probably could not be held against me? I'm clueless.
  I assume they want industry related weaknesses? Is this a correct assumption?

Bo  

Remember,
If the women don't find you handsome,
they should at least find you handy.
 (Red Green) www.redgreen.com

sleipnir214 (Programmer)
11 Nov 07 20:54
You're in a job interview -- like in a Miranda warning, anything you say can be used against you.

Take an honest look at yourself, and try as objectively as possible to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses.  Be as honest as you can be.

For most people, finding the strenghts is easy.  Just make sure you list things that are as concrete as possible.  If your answer is too nebulous, it might appear that you're talking out of your hat.

Most people find listing weaknesses much harder, because they know they need to list something real, but not something that will disqualify them from consideration.  List an honest weakness, but in the same sentence tell your interviewer what steps you have taken to correct that weakness.




Want to ask the best questions?  Read Eric S. Raymond's essay "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way".  TANSTAAFL!

LizSara (TechnicalUser)
12 Nov 07 4:11
The usual weakness is time management, you tell them you have a tendency to work on the project in front of you rather than prioritising as well as you should. it doesn't disqualify you, it's a weakness and it's sometihng they don't have to pay for to get fixed

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Whoever battles with monsters had better see that it does not turn him into a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you. ~ Nietzsche"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

LNBruno (Programmer)
12 Nov 07 10:06
I agree with the time management idea, but would suggest never leaving it as a negative:

"My greatest weakness has been to overcommit myself and then not be able to accomplish everything as I'd like.  But, I'm now keeping a planning calendar to keep track of my appointments and "to do" items to help better manage my time."

Something like that to put a positive spin on, you see?

Good luck.

< M!ke >
Anything is possible if you don't know what you're talking about.

SQLSister (Programmer)
12 Nov 07 10:23
Or list a weakness they would consider a strength.

The weakness question is a game, you are never supposed to list genuine weaknesses that are of real concern to an employer. It's a stupid question because it encourages people to lie (or at least misdirect) and the most honest people (who genuinely thoughtfully list their real weaknesses) are often eliminated from consideration.

"NOTHING is more important in a database than integrity." ESquared

Helpful Member!  gbaughma (IS/IT--Management)
12 Nov 07 12:16
It reminds me of a Dilbert strip I once saw....

Interviewer - "Please tell me your weaknesses."
Dilbert - "I sometimes work too much." (thinks to self "Hehe.... good one!")
Interviewer - "And can you go into detail about why that is a weakness?"
Dilbert - "Ummm... sometimes I work so much, I forget to bathe..."

rofl

Just my 2¢
-Cole's Law:  Shredded cabbage

--Greg  http://parallel.tzo.com

sha76 (Programmer)
12 Nov 07 12:24
I always use boredom, and then tell them how creative & productive I can be when bored.

"Your rock is eroding wrong." -Dogbert

acewarlock (TechnicalUser)
12 Nov 07 12:43
I tell them I don't have any weakness and that's why they should hire me.


This is a Signature and not part of the answer, it appears on every reply.

This is an Analogy so don't take it personally as some have.

Why change the engine if all you need is to change the spark plugs.

 

sha76 (Programmer)
13 Nov 07 8:57
I'd be careful of that one!  If I was interviewing you & it was a close call between you & another candidate that answer would probably make me favour the opposition!  Everyone has weaknesses, as I see it the point is how you deal with them.

"Your rock is eroding wrong." -Dogbert

Welshbird (IS/IT--Management)
13 Nov 07 10:26
I tend to answer that question by saying that my weaknesses really manifest themselves by my working in the wrong environment e.g. working in production, as my strengths lend themselves to something more creative e.g. business development. I guess I'm trying to get them to see that the job I'm applying for is the one that uses my strengths rather than my weaknesses.

Fee

The question should be Is it worth trying to do? not Can it be done?

DTSMAN (TechnicalUser) (OP)
13 Nov 07 12:46
All good stuff as usual.
  I think I may have blown an employment oppurtunity based on my response to this question.

   The where do I see myself in 5 years kills me too. I kind of play that one by ear. If the interviewers are cutting up and seemed layed back I usually respond with being a BassMasters champion fishing for a living, but if thant doesn't pan out, then working here with you. But usually it is something along the lines of migrating from my more technical position to a management position.

PS. I hate interviewing, as I suck at it but not at what I do..

Bo  

Remember,
If the women don't find you handsome,
they should at least find you handy.
 (Red Green) www.redgreen.com

LNBruno (Programmer)
13 Nov 07 13:13
Personally, I try to reign in my deviant personality until AFTER I get the gig, so I try to keep the kidding around to a minimum.  winky smile

That said, with the "5-year plan" question, I usually respond with something about

*) tailoring my strategic and client relations skills to the position
* )intending to be a leading subject matter expert in (line of business)
*) helping shape the strategic direction of (department)
*) continuing to contribute my skills and abilities to (XYZ company)

< M!ke >
Anything is possible if you don't know what you're talking about.

SQLSister (Programmer)
13 Nov 07 13:18
One time when I was the interviewer and the interview panel asked the 5 year question, the guy responded: "I want to be your boss." He, of course, did not get hired.

"NOTHING is more important in a database than integrity." ESquared

LNBruno (Programmer)
13 Nov 07 13:26
Oops, that should have been "rein" instead of "reign!"  Hope the MAI police aren't watching!

I don't know, Dr. Freud; what do YOU make of that?

< M!ke >
Anything is possible if you don't know what you're talking about.

acewarlock (TechnicalUser)
13 Nov 07 13:34
asked the 5 year question, I answer (Retired)

And really I don't have any weakness unless you count my spelling.


This is a Signature and not part of the answer, it appears on every reply.

This is an Analogy so don't take it personally as some have.

Why change the engine if all you need is to change the spark plugs.

 

acewarlock (TechnicalUser)
13 Nov 07 16:30
PS: if you don't beleive me , just ask me and I'll tell you.


This is a Signature and not part of the answer, it appears on every reply.

This is an Analogy so don't take it personally as some have.

Why change the engine if all you need is to change the spark plugs.

 

j4606 (MIS)
14 Nov 07 17:42
I think the questions about listing your weaknesses and where you want to be in 5 years are more of a way to test social skills and preparation than anything else. No one would really be honest and start listing off short comings if they want the job. Part of the interview process is to see if you as a person would fit into the work environment and communicate with others. While interviewing you should  have already memorized the answers to all these interview questions, know some facts about the company your trying to work for and also have some questions for the interviewer. Anything short and you will look unprepared, and who really wants to hire someone that hasn't taken the time to prepare for an interview?
Helpful Member!  SantaMufasa (TechnicalUser)
14 Nov 07 18:15
The "What-are-your-weaknesses?" responses that have worked in my favour have been:

Quote (Upside Weaknesses):

  • Others have criticised or cited my orientation toward detail.
  • I tend to be a Perfectionist, but when constrained by time or budget, I have learned to accept "excellent" when "perfect" is unreasonable.
  • Team members tend to disparage my "work-aholism" when a project requires more than an 8-to-5 time commitment.
How will those weaknesses work for you?

santaMufasa
(aka Dave of Sandy, Utah, USA)
[I provide low-cost, remote Database Administration services: www.dasages.com]

SantaMufasa (TechnicalUser)
14 Nov 07 18:27
...And per the "Where-do-you-see-yourself-in-five-years?" question, my response has been:

Quote:

In five years, I want to look back on the previous five years and be able to say:
  • I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I have spent with my co-workers in meeting the organisation's needs.
  • I have significantly advanced my knowledge and skills professionally.
  • I have learned much about great leadership from my manager(s).
  • I appreciate the opportunities for advancement that I have received at my organisation.
  • I am grateful for the respect I have earned, and that my organisation shows me, for the work I have done.
  • My wife still loves me, and my kids think I'm a great dad.
  • My cardiologist says that I have the heart and constitution of an 18-year-old and I still have another 50 good years left in me.
Remember, much truth is spoken in jest. <grin>

santaMufasa
(aka Dave of Sandy, Utah, USA)
[I provide low-cost, remote Database Administration services: www.dasages.com]

JCreamerII (MIS)
15 Nov 07 7:49
Mufasa,

I think I just got a sugar rush.  That was so sweet.

Jim C.
acewarlock (TechnicalUser)
15 Nov 07 9:46
You must have alot of time on your hands to come up with so many good ones.


This is a Signature and not part of the answer, it appears on every reply.

This is an Analogy so don't take it personally as some have.

Why change the engine if all you need is to change the spark plugs.

 

sha76 (Programmer)
15 Nov 07 10:01
Santa, I really like the idea of looking back on 5 years of achievements, apart from coming across well it would also neatly hide the true answers of "somewhere else" or "doing your job"!

"Your rock is eroding wrong." -Dogbert

mbalent (Programmer)
19 Nov 07 11:06
Forget the cliche' type answers and be yourself.  Unless the persons inverviewing you are brand new management types they will have heard them all before (and this will reflect badly upon you as a candidate).

Matt

"Nature forges everything on the anvil of time"

eyetry (Programmer)
19 Nov 07 14:53
SantaMufasa, great answers!  I've used a few myself.  

The question I think is redic is 'If you were an animal/tree what kind would it be?'

I understand some HR pros think its a great one.  No good answer...  Lion, I attack work problems (and kill my co-workers); Deer, I'm alert and run with the heard (and get killed by the lions)... Maple; grow fast on the job ( thin bark and full of sweet stuff); Birch, flexible (shallow roots); Oak....

We had a guy tell our interviewer he was a deer because that's what the interviewer wanted but when he started he told me he was a lion... he didn't lie to me either... he really chewed people up, then knawed on their bones.

Someone askes me that question I'll prob answer it nicely then not follow-up.

wlemery (Programmer)
19 Nov 07 17:22
Q:What are your weaknesses?

A: The usual. Whiskey, women, gambling...

I had one young little snot from personnel ask me for a single phrase that represented the sort of wisdom I'd like to pass along to my children, or that represented my personal morals. My answer: Carpe Diem. The rest of the group broke up laughing. When the questioner admitted she didn't know what it meant, I asked her if she knew what a hedonist was. Nope, clueless.

A week later I learned that the company had withdrawn the position, which didn't surprise me. About three months later, I learned that the company had terminated their little girl personnel director, also no surprise.

I think the best answer I ever heard in response to the 'five year plan' is: Not working for you. A potential employer has no business asking questions like this, as they are far too personal and refer to age.
acewarlock (TechnicalUser)
19 Nov 07 19:20
Five Year Plan= Retired


This is a Signature and not part of the answer, it appears on every reply.

This is an Analogy so don't take it personally as some have.

Why change the engine if all you need is to change the spark plugs.

 

Helpful Member!  aarenot (Vendor)
28 Nov 07 8:48
The reference to weaknesses belongs to an antiquated sense of direction in managers, and management.   Knowing your weaknesses has been valued as part of the in most cases worthless performance evaluation rituals of corporate idiots.

This worthless type of performance management, or evaluation is a way to keep the worker focusing on their weaknesses, and hinging pay for performance on areas of lack of giftings.

let me give you an example in how the eastern nations have trained their ping pong, or table tennis players.   They evaluate the players strengths, and weaknesses to establish, and prioritize the training time.   After establishing the players greatest strength they form a regimen to develope that strength to the point of being able to dominate the opponent through this strength alone.   The other greater strengths may also be developed as well, but as far as the weaknesses go.

NONE of the developement of skills time is wasted in areas of weakness, as the chances of return on investment are minimal.   This approach does evaluate that the weakness is not due to lack of gifting in that area.

Example:   We would not want to waste our time trying to teach a 4 foot 2 inch person to slam dunk in basketball practice.   Michael Angelo would not focus his time on non-artistic endeavors.   Most stereotypical IT guys would not seek a PHD in socail work.   

Reality:   Investing  a large percentage of your time investing in areas which you have no natural ability, or gifting is just plain stupid, therefore focusing on areas of weakness is generally a waste of time, and has no signifigant return on investment.

aarenot (Vendor)
28 Nov 07 8:56
If focusing on your weaknesses, and improving them made sense, all you IT guys would have went to school for IT because you sucked at technology.   On the other hand all the great IT mninds would have a degree in non-techical areas.

gbaughma (IS/IT--Management)
29 Nov 07 9:20

Quote:


   The where do I see myself in 5 years kills me too.

Hehe... this (again) reminds me of something funny I saw on Family Guy.  Peter is interviewing for a job...

Boss: So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Peter: (Glances at family photo with the boss, his hot wife, and about a 10 year old kid.... thinks to himself "Don't say doing your wife! Don't say doing your wife!")
Peter: Ummmm..... doing your........ son?

rofl

Sick... but funny.

Just my 2¢
-Cole's Law:  Shredded cabbage

--Greg  http://parallel.tzo.com

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