Worst Interview Question

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The Worst Interview Question (and How to Answer It) 12:10 PM Monday January 31, 2011 by Priscilla Claman | Comments (137) * ------------------------------------------------- EMAIL * ------------------------------------------------- SHARE * ------------------------------------------------- PRINT The following interview nightmare comes from when I was sitting on the board of directors of a small nonprofit: We were interviewing finalists for the executive director position, and one director asked the last candidate, "Larry, what do you consider your greatest weakness?" Larry thought a minute, flushed, and then answered, "Well, some people I've worked with would say that I have a tendency to just talk on and on without saying anything, but I couldn't agree. I know I like to talk, but I think that what I say has a lot of meaning. That is, while I am talking and talking, I am actually saying something..." He understood he was embarrassing himself, but he still droned on. We sat horrified. With his answer to this terrible (but oft-used) interview question, he proved his biggest weakness. I know what you're thinking: How could the question be so terrible if it showed he wasn't right for the job? Well, in this situation, it didn't shed any new light on Larry. We already knew about his particularly verbose style of communicating from earlier in the interview. But this question alwaysmakes people feel uneasy. It originates from the old-fashioned aversive interview approach of the 1950s and 1960s, designed to make the candidate uncomfortable in order to gauge how he handles pressure. The question still feels like a put down. When you purposefully make a candidate feel embarrassed, she won't forget it, and will most likely never recommend your organization to a friend. For my part, I don't believe in the abstract idea of individual "weaknesses," only
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