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1. What are your weaknesses?
2. Why did you leave your last job?
3. How do you deal with criticism?
4. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
5. How do you deal with authority?
6. What do you think of your previous manager?
7. What is the riskiest thing you have ever done?
You think the interview is going well. You knew the meeting location ahead of time, and you arrived ten minutes early. You are dressed sharp and your teeth are clean. You came prepared in every way-you have three copies of your resume, a few business cards, two pens and a note pad. You turned off your cell-phone. You managed to find out before the interview that your interviewer held the position for which you are now applying and that you were in choir at the same college. You know the company's mission statement and have a sense of their structure. Your interviewer nodded and smiled when you spoke about your previous accomplishments and your management style. You seem to have connected with the company culture.
Your reflection, research, and practice have served you so well that you wonder whether you should become a professional interviewee rather than a Financial Planner. Then the interviewer lifts her head from her notes and, pen in hand, asks: what are your weaknesses?
You have two options: you can squirm and stammer through a response you develop on the fly, or you can look your interviewer in the eye and provide a thoughtful response that still helps you present yourself strongly. When asked difficult questions, you feel instinctively that they are probing and that you are under great scrutiny. As you prepare responses before the interview, consider what information the questions seek: are there ways in which you would be a liability to the company? If the company invests in you, what kinds of things would it need to overcome? Are you the kind of person who can deal with things when they get rough, or are you pure gloss?
In answering sensitive questions, make sure that your answers are honest, but reassuring. Use tact and choose your words carefully so that you show respect for other people in your responses. You should usually use understatement in your reply to sensitive questions. When people hear something bad, they tend to focus on it in a way that is out of proportion to its significance in everyday life. If you say that you are not always organized, the interviewer could imagine your desk with papers strewn everywhere and deadlines missed. But in reality your conception of disorganization might look a lot like the interviewer's conception of organization. In addition, most of the interviewer's questions could be answered honestly in a variety of ways. You want to choose the version of the truth that is most appealing and sensitive--the version that helps support your main message.
What are your weaknesses?
Overemphasized: I am not a good manager.
Avoidant: I always get my work done on time. When other people drop the ball, sometimes I get frustrated with them.
Effective: I prioritize continual growth and improvement. An area on which I would like to focus is managing others who have different expectations from me. What needs to be done in order to complete responsibilities is intuitive for me, so I am learning how to give better direction to others who are not self-motivated.
Why did you leave your last job?
Vague and negative: Law always interested me, and I was looking for a new challenge. I thought it would be a good time to go to law school. Besides, I had gotten frustrated with the lack of support I felt at work.
Dangerous: In the end, my manager and I could not get along. He was driving me crazy and I needed to leave.
Effective: As I succeeded in financial analysis, I became increasingly interested in broader issues of managing money. I wanted to understand how legal regulations and individuals' goals affect decisions about how to manage money. When I gained entrance to my top choice in law school, I seized the opportunity to infuse my financial training with legal knowledge.