On the Hunt Faux Pas #2: Tried-but-still True?

By now, I have gone on several interviews and have picked up a few “tips and tricks” for answering some of the common interview questions: Tell me about yourself. Why do you want to work here? What is your greatest strength? Greatest weakness?  At the beginning stages of my job hunt process, I became fixated on trying to discover the “correct” responses to interview questions. Responses that would secure me the job, the “Pass Go and Collect $200” community cards.

I browsed and drew inspiration from examples from online community forums, blogs, and professional development websites. My relentless search to find “correct” answers made me realize that no matter how hard I tried or how many hours I spent, they did not exist. In fact, every result, post, and thread provided various responses claimed that their response was the best. Some even claimed that their responses were “tried-and-true.”

A suggested “tried-and-true” response is responding with  I am a perfectionist to the question of your greatest weakness. Being a perfectionist could suggest weaknesses like the inability to see the bigger picture, to work promptly, or to adapt to changes. By no means am I suggesting that perfectionists are not great people or employees, I am a perfectionist myself! But why is this response “tried-and-true?” Maybe perfectionism is a sought after quality despite its shortcomings. Perhaps it is a veiled strength that suggests that the interviewee has no weakness. Or it’s just too hard to argue against perfectionism.

But is perfectionism a weakness? For me, I consider my perfectionism to be one of my greatest assets. It inspires me to produce high quality, organized work and to exceed expectations. It is what drives me to work harder and better. So, if this is my response, I guess I am lying to myself and the interviewer…. which I am sure will set off their special lie detection powers. So, then how should I respond? Use the tried-and-true method or good ol’ honesty?









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