Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Job Interviews: The Right Answer for the "Worst Trait" Question

I always thought this was obvious, so hopefully you're not surprised either.  However, over the years many of you have proven me wrong on this one.  The bottom line is this: don't really dish out something negative when a potential employer asks you what your "Worst Trait" is or any question along those lines.  This, like many questions posed during a job interview, is a perfect situation for a timely lie.  There is no need for full disclosure and I've watched many of you crash and burn at this stage of the game. 

Seriously, here are some answers I've heard during interviews I have conducted:

"I'm always late."

"I lack confidence."

"I like to play on the internet too much."

"I have lots of personal problems."

"I'm not that good at whatever the job is."

I'm being 100% sincere about this.  The "I'm always late" dude was a good guy who I wanted to see interview well.  Also, he may have had a problem with tardiness, but it wasn't that bad.  Geez.  Anyway, I repeat: don't really come clean on this score.  It's self-defeating.  You have to list a negative that is actually a positive. 

Examples include:

"I can be too passionate about my work.  It's like I don't even want to leave until the job is finished."

"I can be a bit of a perfectionist.  Trying to live up to my own expectations can be daunting, but that's how I motivate." 

"I'm very competitive.  I'll be friendly with my co-workers, but my focus will be on doing my job well.  (pause) I really work hard to be the best at whatever it is I'm doing." 

They may call your bluff and try to cajole you into slipping up:

"Well, that's not so bad.  Why don't you give me something that is really a problem for you?"

The game hasn't changed.  Play the same hand again.  Use another negative that is actually a positive.  Whatever happens, you won't say something like "I have lots of personal problems" and lose the job. 

Happy hunting, good people.

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