Job Interviews   >   Questions 20, 21 and 22
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Job Interview Questions and Answers

Job Interview Question 20:  How do you balance career and family?

On the surface this questions appears to be an illegal job interview question, but it isn't the way that it's worded. The interviewer is hoping you will reveal information about things he isn't allowed to ask, such as if you are married, single, divorced, have children, or are straight or gay. If you don't want to reveal information about your personal life, offer a vague simple answer: "I haven't had a problem balancing my work and private life.   One has never interfered with the other.  I am capable of getting the work I need to get done without it interfering with my personal life."

On the other hand, you might want to reveal a great deal of information if you think it will help you get the job offer:  "I can easily balance my career and family life as my children are now in college and my wife is starting a new career as a real estate agent.  We both work hard and have flexible schedules to work when we need to, but we still have a good personal life, spending time with friends and family every week."

Job Interview Question 21:  What is your greatest strength (or strengths)? 

Provide one or two strengths that are work-related and give the interviewer an example that proves you have that strength.   Sample answer:  "I have the ability to train and motivate people.  For example, at Acme Corporation, employee turnover was sixty percent.  To try to find out why, I interviewed more than 200 employees.  I discovered that a major reason for the high turnover was lack of proper training and low morale.  To try to resolve the problem, I developed a training program that helped workers perform their jobs better and got them motivated to do a better job.  Each training session lasted only two days, but the results were very impressive -- productivity improved 30 percent and employee turnover dropped by more than half."

Job Interview Question 22:  What is your greatest weakness (or weaknesses)?

Don't answer this question by claiming that you have no weaknesses.  Confess a real weakness that you have, but choose one that isn't particularly relevant to the job you're seeking if you can.  Do not answer with phony weaknesses such as "I'm a slave to my job."  Just state the weakness, tell the interview how it has harmed you in your work life, and what steps you have taken to improve it.  A good step one can take to improve a weakness is to read self-help books on the subject.  You might offer the title of a book you've read that helped you improve your weakness.

Sample answer 1:  "A major weakness I had in the past was delegating work to others and trusting them to do it correctly.  In my early career, this caused some problems for me in that my subordinates were unhappy because they felt I lacked confidence in them.  I would try to do the work myself or look over their shoulders while they were doing the work. This problem was brought to my attention by my supervisor in a performance review.  I agreed with her on this point and admitted I needed to change so I read a few self-help books that helped me change my thinking and let go of the idea that I needed to micromanage my work environment in order to get the job done.  Now, I have no problem delegating work to subordinates."

Sample answer 2:  "I'm a very shy person until I get to know a person.  Being shy has cost me a great deal in my career as it has prevented me from getting promotions and jobs I've wanted.  A few years ago, I realized I would have to change or I wasn't going to achieve my career goals.  I read several self-help books on the subject, "Getting Over Your Shyness" was one, and I summoned up the courage to take a speech class at night.   The teacher was excellent and was able to convince me how shyness is just an irrational fear.  Although I'll always be shy, I'm not nearly as shy as I used to be and I've greatly improved my ability to communicate with others by taking several more speech classes.  Now, I can get up in front of a large group of people and give a lengthy presentation without a problem."

Bad answer:  "I have a major weakness for chocolate."  Although this is a weakness, to offer this as an answer is to sidestep the question and will turn off the interviewer.

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