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What to Do When Asked About Weaknesses in a Job Interview

What to Do When Asked About Weaknesses in a Job Interview

A job interview can be as close to legal torture in the 21st century that hopefully any of us will ever get.

We’d rather have our pointless appendices’ removed than sit opposite someone who has the power to decide if we’re going to get any money in our bank account and feel like a useful member of society. No pressure then.

So if it’s not bad enough that you spent hours agonizing over the perfect outfit, checking the location (a hundred times) and reorganizing your CV for the 50th time you know at some stage you’re going to feel like you are facing the Spanish Inquisition or feel like you are 7 years old in front of the head master (who can reduce you to a blubbering wreck just by saying your first name.)

How are you supposed to perform well in an environment like that?

How are you supposed to showcase that you are the perfect candidate for the job when you can’t think of one clever thing to say?

And how are you supposed to get around the random questions companies insist on asking, like asking about your weaknesses in a job interview?

Let’s look at how to deal with those tricky questions that can leave you feeling stumped and like you have no chance of getting the job in ways that doesn’t require you to reinvent yourself.

Before you get in there

Who are they?

    It’s not rocket science to know that if you want a job you should do your research on that company:

    • What matters to them?
    • What is their brand like?
    • What does their website look like?
    • Does it talk about individuals, mission statements, ethos, values or charitable work?
    • How do they present themselves?

    Taking the time to learn about the company you are going to aim to work for means that whatever question that comes up you have in your head (hopefully if you actually took notes and really thought about the company) what they want to know and what floats their boat, i.e. you know who they want to work with.

    While anyone can (in theory) work anywhere, we all fit in some places better than others. Some will tell you it’s good to be able to change who you are; however eventually that can get physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting and that’s no good for long term success.

    Knowing who you are looking to work with means you can find out if you actually want the job too and if you don’t it helps you assess what matters to you in your career.

    Who am I?

      Turn on the TV, phone or laptop and just by watching an advert, you can work out what they are selling, what age it’s intended for, what kind of person it’s aimed at and even where their ideal demographic likes to eat or travel to.

      None of that is by accident.

      A strong brand attracts the right people. And just like organisations want to attract the right customers they also want to attract the right staff. Therefore before you even get to the interview really take the time to answer the questions above on yourself:

      • What matters to you?
      • What is your brand like?
      • What do you look like online?
      • What is your mission statement, ethos, values and charitable interests?

      Let who you are exude through every question you are asked. This also enables you to appreciate why you would really like to work for this company.

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      You’ve taken the time to assess if their values, beliefs, products, etc match up to what you want and that helps you to connect regardless of whether you get an answer wrong or not.

      This also means you have prepared some of the things that you want from that organization too. Are you looking to stay in that job for the rest of your life? Are you looking to learn new skills? Are you looking to be a part of a bigger team? Are you looking to take on the big challenges that face society?

      Knowing this information can really help because interviews are not just about being asked questions it is about the ability to ask effective well thought questions too.

      Practice, practice practice

        Interview skills is a bit like any communication skill especially public speaking; you need to consider what you want to get out of this communication and they want to get out of this communication too.

        To do this, it is about having the right skills and the right mindset. Like public speaking or any communication where you have a vested interested, an interview’s results can be damaged by not ensuring you look after both the mindset and skill set.

        For instance, you could have an awesome positive attitude; however if you’ve not done your research and physically prepared accordingly, you could still fail. Likewise, if you have all the right skills but lack the right mindset, again you could fail. To get around this you need to be prepared mentally.

        This works well for big moments in life too. Really visualize walking away from the venue, secretly grinning from ear to ear because you got exactly the result you wanted, i.e.:

        • How do you feel?
        • What was said?
        • What is going to happen next?
        • What are you wearing?
        • Where are you?

        Craft the result in your head in every detail.

        Why is this so important? Because in life, we can’t always plan for what is going to happen however we can be determined to get the result we want. And by being determined, we can ensure we keep heading in the right direction. Essential for interviews where you don’t actually know what is going to be asked of you.

        In the room

        How you act

          I’m very aware that so far I’ve not told you what to say to those difficult questions that really throw you and that’s because if you get everything else right, those questions (and their answers) become less important because overall you’ve still had the chance to shine and impress.

          When you walk in that room, you want to look like you should be there (and are pleased to be there) but not like you own the town. Arrogance can cost you the job and there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

          Make eye contact. Are you the kind of person that can get served first in a packed bar? Then it’s a good chance you’ve sussed eye contact. Eye contact is not just about the eyes, it’s about your body too. How do you stand? With confidence?

          Do you look like a bunny trapped in the headlights of a car? Or happy to be here?

          This works on two levels, first it makes you look confident and secondly, it makes the other people in the room feel more comfortable. Try changing the way you sit and act in a room and watch how those around you can change too. We feed off other people.

          How you breathe and speak

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            A space in a sentence is not the same as an “Um” pause. Know the difference. One has confidence the other is feeling out of their depth.

            Practice lots of kinds of questions and practice out loud your replies. As someone that has helped a lot of people become successful public speakers, I know the importance of breathing for you and your audience.

            So practice, because where and how you breathe can impact on the way you come across:

            • What is their style? — Know the style of the person asking the questions.
            • Do they speak fast?
            • Do they like to use jargon? (Or do they hate it?)
            • Do they speak quietly or loudly?
            • Do they speak in long sentence?
            • Do they ask open questions or closed?

            These and more give you clues into the interviewers preferred way of speaking and if you can naturally mirror their language, terminology, tonality and phrasing the interviewer can feel like they are building a rapport with you.

            Don’t overdo it though, because that can be creepy and put them off!

            Down to the evil interview questions

            Think of it from the interviewer’s point of view, they’ve got to fill a position in their organization and they want their business to be the best. They want to know that the person they ask these questions to will be perfect to fit in their team, make the difference and help them achieve what they aim to.

            A big responsibility to achieve all of that in a few questions. So how can they find out who someone really is? How can they work out what is true in your CV and what you researched on line as the “top 10 things to include in your CV”?

            These questions are a mixture of tedium of asking the same question so many times, researching what questions you should ask (yes, it’s not just the interviewee that will hit the search engines!) and trying to ask questions that enables them to remember the individual behind each answer. So let’s look at what to say:

            I don’t know

              Not knowing the answer is not against the law and no one knows everything. So if you don’t know the answer, the first rule is don’t lie. You will get found out.

              Think about this right now, what could be an answer to a question that you don’t know that enables you to look honest and keen to learn more and capable in areas around this subject?

              Preparing some answers (Out loud so you can hear how they sound) means you can feel more prepared. And while I could write the words to say, they would be my words and not natural to you and so could come across as fake.

              The key to shining in an interview is allowing who you really are to shine through. (If they don’t like that, it could be this is the wrong company, not you’re the wrong candidate!)

              Don’t’ be a politician

                Another dangerous approach is to keep talking without answering the question. This is an infuriating technique that could cost you points. Think about answers that you can give that showcase what you do know in this field.

                “I’ve not had a lot of experience with xxx however I’ve had great results using xxx and it led to a xxx% increase in sales so I feel I have the right skills to migrate to xxx”

                Thinking about what you are good at and how it relates to the job you are going for means you can prepare lots of answers like this.

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                When working with someone who is looking to pitch to an audience or engage an audience with an idea that they may not (initially) like, you don’t want to tell the audience what to think, however you do want to answer the negative questions that are in their heads.

                The same applies in an interview. What questions do you feel would worry you if an interviewer asked them of you? How could you alleviate their concerns in prepared answers?

                Proof is in the pudding

                  When you are faced with tough questions, be prepared with examples of how successful you’ve been in the past.

                  For instance, when I first trained as a coach many years ago, I didn’t want to tell people I was a newly qualified coach (newly qualified can sound amateur and not up to the job, right?), so I steered my answer to the fact that I was 1 of the UK’s youngest female automotive Body shop managers with over 20 years experience in business.

                  Proven experience, right?

                  Think about successes in your career and how they can feature in your proof.

                  Steer clear of extravagant exaggeration

                    While it’s important to showcase “why you” with proof and to be confident. No one likes a big head, so be mindful of your language.

                    I’m over enthusiastic at the best of times, so I have to be mindful of my audience and ask myself “is this the kind of language that makes them feel comfortable or am I making myself stand out for the wrong reasons.”

                    Feel free to say “I had a xx% increase in productivity from the team thanks to this idea;” however, avoid “It was due to my brilliance that I created this system that helped the department increase productivity by xx.”

                    How does your choice of language impact on the way you come across? Are you someone that risks exaggeration or exuberant language?

                    Know when to shut up

                      If you are digging yourself in a deep whole with an answer that goes nowhere. Know when to stop talking.

                      Taking a moment to prepare your prospective replies can help with this. If you’re concerned about not talking or having an answer, repeat their question back to them in this style: “That is a good question, ‘what is my view on my ability to deal with xxx?’” and in doing so, you create the space to think.

                      Thinking is not banned in an interview. If anything, a well prepared reply says you are confident in your own skin and are taking this seriously instead of just splurging out the first thing that comes into your head.

                      The answer for “What is your biggest weakness?”

                      They ask the question that you feel can only make you look bad, so how do you handle it?

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                      Remember the reason they are asking you these questions is because they want to find out who you are really are. They need to know who they are employing, so remember they are not trying to trick you.

                      Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has new things they need to learn. Everyone has something they wished they had handled differently. Everyone has something they’ve said they regretted.

                      Think of a moment in your professional life that you wish you had handled differently. How can you word it so that it sounds like you not only recognized the need to do something differently but learned something powerful from it too?

                      If you want to see how this works. Listen to the radio and a seasoned pro turn any question around so that they get to talk about what they want to.

                      I once trained a team who were likely to end up on the radio. They knew they weren’t going to be asked to speak about their business (which they wanted to) and it was likely to be a conversation about something random like mince pies. I remember one member of the team saying, “this is impossible” only for us to change their style of communication that meant within 2 sentences talking about mince pies had turned into talking about what the business was doing locally.”

                      It takes practice but can be done and is a skill you won’t just use in interviews, you could find yourself using this in every area of your life.

                      Another skill to copy from presenters and those great at TV and radio is their ability to bat the conversation back to the other person in a respectful way. While the interviewer is keen to hear you speak, it’s important to know when to stop talking and enable the interviewer to take control of the conversation again.

                      A big issue for candidates is that they are so keen to say everything relevant to the subject that has been raised that they don’t know when to let the interviewer take back the conversational control.

                      By practicing what you are saying and what you want it to say about you, you will feel more comfortable with giving the control back.

                      Final thoughts

                      I heard a story years ago that the English Rugby team were playing atrociously. They then employed a coach (not a sport coach, but a coach like myself) to help the team perform better.

                      One of the strategies they put in place was that in the second half, the team would come back on the pitch in a clean kit. This enabled them to feel fresh and new to the game bringing a new attitude and mindset.

                      I’ve been unable to find any proof of this story (and I’m always keen to verify what I share with you). However, I can tell you that this clean kit approach has worked with many clients who’ve found themselves making a mistake and not wanting 1 mistake to spiral into a cacophony of failure.

                      That they stop dragging up what has gone wrong. Stop the panic from escalating and start as if this is the very beginning. It’s powerful because the brain gets itself back to a positive state.

                      Thus if you find yourself drowning in a bad answer, let it go and concentrate on the result you want. And get that fresh feeling of “I’ve arrived and will do my best” or “If I’m not right for them, then they are not right for me.”

                      What could be your go to thought that gets you back to fresh thinking be?

                      Ultimately an interview is like any powerful communication you have in your life. Be it at work, at home, your child’s school, your parents doctor or even trying to get a flight out of a fog bound city.

                      The skills you learn to communicate powerfully can have a knock on effect across your entire life. So it’s worth investing some time and honing your skills.

                      Featured photo credit: Andrew Worley via unsplash.com

                      More by this author

                      Mandie Holgate

                      Coach, International BEST Selling Author, Speaker & Blogger helping thousands around the world.

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                      Last Updated on June 26, 2020

                      9 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020

                      9 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020

                      The success of our day is largely dependent on the quality of our planning. Not to miss out anything in their to-dos, some people prefer to make a list of upcoming tasks in a notebook, while others have long started using digital technology solutions.

                      Calendar applications are some of the main tools that are worth using to organize our life and plan your time carefully.

                      Many people have switched to specific tools; however, there are still some who do not use calendars on a daily basis. They may find some applications uncomfortable to use, non-functional, or expensive.

                      In this article, we are going to check out the best calendars apps to help you stay organized.

                      1. Any.do Calendar

                        This calendar has direct integration with Any.Do To-Do List, which gives you a unique tandem of two applications.

                        Apart from its extended functionality, Cal Calendar is easy to use. The creation of events is very simple and fast.

                        What is more, depending on the name of the event, the application automatically adds contacts and geolocation data to the entry description. You can even import your lists and entries from Any.do.

                        Any.do Calendar is a great option for any type of user. It is very convenient and doesn’t overcomplicate the mode of display.

                        Another good thing is that this tool is available for free, so you can use it without spending a dime for the software.

                        Download Any.do Calendar here!

                        2. Google Calendar

                          Google Calendar is the official calendar for Android devices that has been tested out by many users around the globe. If you are right now trying to get away from it, consider changing your mind.

                          Since this application is installed on most Android devices by default, many users think that there is nothing special in this program. They are wrong.

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                          Google has been updating its calendar for quite a few years, and now it comes in Material Design with advanced event features, direct integration into other Google services (for example, supports reminders and Google Now), and comes with Exchange support.

                          The program is super easy and will not cost a dime for you. It is a good thing, right?

                          Download Google Calendar here.

                          3. Jorte Calendar

                            Jorte Calendar is one of the most popular calendar applications in the Google Play store.

                            The program features a wide range of configuration options, with many design alternatives. You can adjust display mode to your needs and view calendar entries sorted by month, week, or day (by hours). It is convenient for quickly picking the desired date, using task bars, and setting reminders.

                            Apart from its ordinary information storing function, this application can be a special cloud service, Jorte Cloud, allowing you to synchronize calendars, schedules, and task lists on multiple devices. The application also supports data importing from Google Calendar.

                            For those paying attention to the program design, there is also Jorte Store, where you can buy styles and icons to personalize the calendar. This feature makes Jorte is one of the brightest calendar applications.

                            A basic version of the app is free of charge, so if you do not want to spend money on a calendar application, it is a good option.

                            Download Jorte Calendar here.

                            4. Business Calendar

                              Business Calendar is geared towards people who use their calendar for work purposes and business task planning. It offers different modes with wide configuration capabilities.

                              The application gives a default view mode by months, and events can be marked in different colors. Display modes/ sorting can be adjusted to your needs (by month, day, year, or events).

                              You can also set a multi-day viewing mode to see how things look for the next few days. Scrolling up and down moves you by month, and if you check a few days, they will be shown in a more detailed form.

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                              The day display mode offers hourly scheduling, and the schedule mode provides a detailed schedule for a single event.

                              Business Calendar is a great tool for planning/ scheduling cases, tasks, and events. There is a support for recurring events, which can be set up in just a few clicks.

                              Having purchased software, you can use it to import and export other calendars, delete, copy, or move several events at the same time.

                              Android Business Calendar application may seem somewhat chaotic, but it works fine and is easy to work with if you play with it for a while.

                              A full version of the application is available for $4.99, but you can also find a free version for the app test drive.

                              Download Business Calendar here.

                              5. Calendar

                                Calendar is a relatively new app. It works as a web app and for both iOS and Android devices. It is an intelligent app that learns your contacts, schedule and tasks. It also helps you schedule and arrange meetings according to your available time slots.

                                A good thing about Calendar is that it allows you to sync up with other calendars you use such as Apple Calendar and Google Calendar. And so you can manage all the calendars you have in one place.

                                Calendar also gives you analytics of your meetings, giving you a clear picture on how you can improve your time management.

                                Download Calendar: Meeting & Scheduling here.

                                6. aCalendar

                                  aCalendar opens our collection of top 10 calendar applications available on the market today. With its appealing design, easy navigation, and great functionality, it is one of the most popular calendar apps in our list.

                                  Some of extra functions include color schemes for each case type (48 colors to choose from), different types of demonstrations, different widgets, moon phases, and much more.

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                                  Taking into account it functionality, aCalendar is a reliable calendar application that has an easy-to-navigate interface with three display options. Scrolling from side to side allows you to switch between the display modes of the month, week and day.

                                  When scrolling down and up, you are moving through the calendar at intervals in accordance with the selected display mode.

                                  Apart from its time planning feature, aCalendar synchronizes photos from contact lists or social networks to remind you about birthdays, anniversaries, or any other special dates.

                                  The program also supports data transfer through NFC and full-screen widgets, which eases your work with any data.

                                  The program is available for free, but you can also get even more features if you buy the extended version of software for $4.99.

                                  Download aCalendar here.

                                  7. DigiCal Calendar

                                    DigiCal Calendar is very similar to Cal Calendar in the fact that the application focuses on design more than on its functionality. However, this doesn’t mean that the application doesn’t serve the purpose.

                                    With this calendar application, you can synchronize all your calendars and view them in different ways.

                                    Along with the basic functions, this program comes with support for Google Calendar, Outlook, and includes some unique and interesting features. You can match keywords to the image or set up a dark theme.

                                    The app can even show you the weather forecast for three days. There are many other features that deserve the attention of people who really like to use calendar applications.

                                    Download DigiCal Calendar here.

                                    8. SolCalendar

                                      SolCalendar can be called a universal application. It claims to be an all-in-one digital solution having a basic calendar functionality combined with some other advanced features, such as weather forecast for a specific day.

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                                      The application supports Google Calendar, as well as tasks, widgets, lunar calendar and even Foursquare.

                                      Those searching for a calendar application to cover just everything in its functionality, SolCalendar is a program to consider. There are a lot of interesting things in this application; the program does an excellent job working in “all-in-one” mode.

                                      Test SolCalendar – the application is available for free. You can test it out without purchasing the service.

                                      Download SolCalendar here.

                                      9. Today Calendar

                                        Today Calendar is one of the most hip and edgy calendars in our list. The solution was one of the first ones that really embraced Material Design and remains one of the few that adhere to the neat style.

                                        The calendar application offers bold colors, simple controls, and great functionality. This is not as heavy an application as many others; it will not eat all the memory of your device.

                                        If you are not searching for something complicated and over-functional, Today Calendar is what you need. You can always test the application before paying for it – the program is available for free.

                                        Download Today Calendar here.

                                        Our Verdict

                                        Searching for the right application to manage your various calendars and plan your busy day can sometimes turn into a streak of obstacles.

                                        Most of us need flexible applications that can be easily used to manage our tough schedule. The application should have all necessary time planning functions and be intuitive.

                                        Stylish design and limitless compatibility also matter. It is not always easy to find such a program.

                                        The above digital calendar solutions fall under the category “worth” of being used. They are modern, multifunctional, easy, and easy. Pick the one you like!

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                                        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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