Interview Question:What is your greatest Weakness?

I have come to learn there is a virtuous cycle to transparency and a very vicious cycle of obfuscation.

Jeff Weiner (CEO Linkedin) 

The question “what is your greatest weakness” continues to be one that stresses and stumps candidates. Sort of putting them between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand you do not want to appear insincere, on the other you are not in a position to highlight something that could be red flag for the interviewer.Strengths and Weaknesses - Internal Part of a SWOT Analysis

You might wonder why ask such a question – and make candidates uncomfortable?

The reason is simple. It is to find out how aware you are about your weaknesses and strengths. Further, it gives an indication about how open you might be to receive some constructive feedback. This question in a way helps in developing clarity about your fit for the role.

There are multiple ways to handle this question and the online sources have a number of them listed out. But most of the listed advice is cute to say the least. One often quoted suggestion is to turn a strength into a weakness – I am a perfectionist. The problem is that the interviewer is likely to have read the same blogs, and he is going to know where you are coming from. This kind of response makes you appear evasive, and raises a red flag on your honesty.

Instead consider scenario shared below. Note how this candidate tackles the question in an open, transparent manner.

Interviewer: Ravi, can you tell us about your greatest weakness?

Ravi(candidate) : Sir, I assume you mean with respect to the job I am interviewing for.  

Interviewer: Yes, You are right.

Ravi: I feel I need to work on my organizing ability and productivity. Let me explain. I have a good record at my work so far. I have consistently achieved or surpassed the numbers and have been commended for the same. I have excellent ability to approach and persuade prospects and clients. I am good at asking questions and am good at follow-up. But where I fall short is in not being completely organised. I can be better at managing my time and in organizing myself in a manner that I my productivity improves and I am able to achieve much more. 

Interviewer: Mr. Ravi, does that mean you are saying that you are not productive enough.

Ravi: No that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that with my existing skills I am good on the job considering my overall performance – but I can do a lot more. But to move ahead in my career –I need to work on my ability to organize myself, so that I can handle greater responsibilities with ease.

Interviewer: If you are good on the job and that is shown by your performance results that means it is your strength. We would like to see an example of your failing.

Ravi: I see where you are getting at. But thing is that I do not like to fail so I try to anticipate such situations and prepare myself accordingly. Based on self evaluation I realize that – if I do not work on my skills of organizing I will have challenges while taking up greater responsibilities and work loads. Hence I am preparing myself accordingly – by reading books on the topic and enrolling for courses.

I hope I have answered to your satisfaction , I would appreciate if you could share your thoughts on areas that I could improve upon.

This is one way to handle the question. Have a frank discussion about your weaknesses.Inability to stay organized is a weakness – yet it is a weakness a number of candidates struggle with especially in the early years. The other thing is that the candidate is open about how he is tackling the situation and his keenness to improve himself.

This answer displays

  1. the candidates thought clarity,
  2. Self awareness
  3. Willingness to work on himself.

All attributes of a positive, career focused candidate.

The writer is a Talent Acquisition Expert based in Bangalore.

 

 

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AI/JOBS/& increasing opportunities

Lawyers and accountants join list of workers whose jobs are likely to go – screamed a headline. ai_0

Increasingly such headlines are becoming everyday affairs.

Artificial Intelligence has come a long way and seems like it is set to takeover our jobs , especially jobs that are of a repetitive and mundane nature. These include jobs of order takers – cashiers , maybe even waiters might get replaced by robots. Telecallers might get replaced with Robo callers. Are there any firms already doing so – I am not sure. How far into the future can we expect sizeable volumes of AI replacements? could be 5 years or 10.

A point to remember is that Automation is expensive and is not going to replace any job as long as it is cheaper for a human to do it.

A Mckenzie report suggests that as of now 5% of the jobs are ready for AI takeover. The good things is that 95% of the jobs are going to stay. Even better is that new jobs will replace the old ones. As the human population increases more jobs get created. It is a simple case of demand and supply.  Technology will eliminate certain kind of jobs but more new jobs will be created catering to a different set of problems and solutions.

Opportunities continue to increase.

To find out if machines will actually take away our jobs – watch this TEDx by David Autor

Meeting Room Only

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.” – Dave Barry

That quote by humorist Dave Barry puts in perspective the prevailing world view on meetings.

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Meetings tend to get a lot of bad press , much of it justified. Most meetings fail. Of the 40-60 hours per month that employees spend in meetings less than 10 % of these hours are constructive hours spent. Certainly a great many meetings waste a great deal of everyone’s time and seem to be held for ancient unknown rather than sane reasons.

Infact a good many meetings tend to be conducted to delay decisions and diffuse responsibility. But yet there is no denying the fact that meetings fulfill an important human need. Man is after all a social species. Our race evolved over campfires, and gatherings, hence meetings do play an important role.

Question is when? When are these meetings effective?

Meetings can be effective if certain ground rules are met.Here i have listed a few simple ways – no rocket science – just ensure the basics.

  1. The decision about who is to attend depends on what you want to accomplish in the meeting. This may seem too obvious to state, but it’s surprising how many meetings occur without the right people there.
  2. Develop the agenda together with key participants in the meeting. Think of what overall outcome you want from the meeting and what activities need to occur to reach that outcome. In the agenda, state the overall outcome that you want from the meeting.
  3. Always start on time; this respects those who showed up on time and reminds late-comers that the scheduling is serious.
  4. Decide on Ground Rules: Four powerful ground rules could be : participate, get focus, maintain momentum and reach closure. You might want to add confidentiality , and any other rules unique to your situation.
  5. Leave 5-10 minutes at the end to evaluate the meeting. Have each member rank the meeting and let them explain the ranking.
  6. End meetings on time and on a positive note.