Why people stay underemployed

I saw this information once and I apologize that I don't have the source: 

  • 90% cannot answer problem interview questions
  • 85% do not have enough job search activity
  • 80% cannot describe their job skills
  • 42% are unable to locate openings
  • 40% have poor or out-of-place appearance

Today, I want to discuss problem interview questions. Actually the two that come to mind that seem to trip folks up at the interview is "how do you handle conflict?" or some variation of the sort and "what is your weakness?"

Why do so many people say, "I don't have conflict" and/or "I don't have any weaknesses?" Are you kidding me. Why do you think that is a good answer? 

First. If you don't have conflict, then my thoughts are I'm going to have to deal with your passive/aggressive behavior. Conflict just means someone disagrees with a particular point of view in a moment of time. Sometimes, viewpoints change. Do you really want to work in an environment where everyone is a "yes-man or yes-woman"? How will you ever hear other great or good ideas if others are afraid you'll only disagree with them.

Ugh. 

I'd rather hear you tell me that while it would be great to avoid conflict in the workplace that is unrealistic. I'd rather hear you tell me that you would try to talk with the person that you have a conflict with or try to find a way to have the conflict mediated with an impartial person who can help you both come to a compromise. I'd even like to hear that you have to walk away, think about where the other person is coming from and possible realizing that viewpoint makes sense. But don't tell me in an interview that you don't have conflicts. And tell me a story about the last time you actually had a conflict and how you resolved it. Paint a picture, don't give me a laundry list of boxes you checked off in your head. 

Second. Everybody has weaknesses. If you don't then you are trying to tell me you are perfect. And I don't think so. We can all stand to grow and a weakness only means you are still developing in some way. But don't take the easy way out and tell me one of those passive skills like "I wish I could type faster". Really. We use computers and I have yet in 30 years of work needed anything typed up immediately that required me to type 70 words a minute. So don't tell me that is your weakness. I see right through that. How about telling me your weakness is being a perfectionist. And the drawback to that is you sometimes miss deadlines because you want everything to be perfect. Now that is a specific skill and actionable step that can be addressed and let's me know you understand the value of the question. The interview questions aren't just a waste of your time or the interviewers time, it's your opportunity to let people know you would be a good fit with their team and their organization.

More on the interviews to come.