Is Honesty the best policy? Yes!
To coin a phrase – ‘Honesty is a virtue’ is true in every life situation. Following on from our tips for Candidates last week, I thought it would be good to reiterate the importance of being honest not only during your interview, but from the very beginning of your job-hunting process and putting your CV together. Interviewers will appreciate interviewees being open and honest and presenting themselves with confidence in their abilities, of course you don’t want to come across as arrogant and you also don’t want to come across as someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about as you’ve lied on your CV.
Honesty on your CV.
When you list your education, qualifications, professional experience and skills, it is imperative to be honest in these areas.
It may be that you’ve included a technology on your CV that you’ve had very little experience in but am keen to learn about. If you’ve had a little exposure, make it clear it is a little. If not and you are asked a question about how to deploy that technology or trouble shoot it, then the interview will come crumbling down around you as you become exposed. With qualifications don’t put down you are a CCNP when you’re not! If you’re currently working towards it, absolutely put it down as that is a great indicator of self-learning, self-development and keeping up to date with the latest technology. Don’t forget that what is being asked for by Hiring Mangers is a perfect wish list and they don’t expect you to have everything! In most cases it’s just about you being able to demonstrate a technical aptitude and willingness to learn new technologies, you don’t need to know them all!
You may be going for a job that involved management at some level. If you have experience leading a small team of 4 or 5 people and you are going for a job where you will be heading up a whole department with numerous teams be clear with what level of management experience you have. Managing people is management and even managing a small team is still great experience. You can talk about your leadership skills and give examples of situations to back up your great leadership experience.
What is your weakness? Should you be honest here? Yes…to a point!
Most people faulter at this question and often fall into the standard interview trap when answering this question. If every person who answered the question – ‘What is your biggest weakness’ with ‘I’m a perfectionist’ – then we would be living in a perfect world! But unfortunately, we are not. You might think you are impressing them with an answer that no one else would’ve said. That with your drive for ‘perfection’ they would be fools not to take you on. Why would they not take someone on who strives for the best and achieves the best? Whereas often they are in fact thinking you are the ‘fool’ for answering that question with the same answer as the previous 5 candidates they’ve just interviewed! Can you honestly say that being a ‘perfectionist’ really is your biggest weakness? Of course, it isn’t. Instead avoid answering with, ‘I’m too ambitious’, ‘I’m a workaholic’ and those alike.
Instead be honest with where your skills are lacking, or the areas of knowledge you have gaps in. Maybe as a manager, you don’t delegate enough. Say how you are addressing this by taking a leadership course, or a better management course. It may be that you are not very good at speaking in front of large audience, public speaking or something much smaller like holding a presentation within your organisation. You can say how you are addressing that by speaking with a mentor who has given your strategies to help overcome nervousness and you plan to do more talks or presentations to practice this. If it’s a technical area you know you are lacking knowledge in, raise it. Say how you plan on doing more reading, more hands on practical, spending more time with senior peers or taking on board more training to improve this area of technical expertise. Make sure you have at least investigated these in case you are probed on your answer!
These are all honest weaknesses and by bringing awareness to them and following up with ways in which you are trying to address them will prove to be far better than answering with dishonest nonsense or with ‘I have no weaknesses. There are of course some honest answers you should avoid! For example, you may find yourself drinking one too many glasses of wine at the weekend, or that you don’t want the party to stop. Or you are just far too lazy, lay horizontal on the sofa all weekend and get nothing done! There’s no need for that level of honesty, keep it strictly professional and constructive.
Why do you want to leave your current job?
Is it because you hate your boss, the people you work with, you think you are seriously underpaid, the work is dull? You can express those feelings but in a tactful way. They don’t want to hear you whinge and complain. Instead you can say how you’re looking for new challenges and career growth, how at your current employer there is no current opportunity to progress and develop your skills, or you want a professional change in career in a new environment. That is why people look for new positions, that and a change in personal circumstances. Maybe you want to move to a different location for personal reasons, better lifestyle, closer to family, for more opportunities, which of course are real honest reasons. Just keep any personal private feelings and out of the picture, you don’t want to start ranting in front of a potential new employer, as they will become another interviewer who doesn’t offer you a job!
More and more of these types of questions are being asked. ‘How did you overcome a particular work challenge?’ or ‘Have you gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, how? ‘How do you handle your day to day schedule being disrupted?
You will be asked open-ended questions like this and this is an opportunity for the interviewer to see a little bit about your thinking style and personality. Here you get to speak about personal success in difficult situations. It may be that you had to confront a co-worker in an awkward situation and confrontation and conflict is an area that can make you feel uncomfortable. By being honest with areas that you struggle with and that you overcame them shows strength of character.
Remember, there are no right or wrong answers here. These are questions that the interviewer is asking you to see if you have the certain behaviours they’re looking for. It will help them to assess if you are a right fit. Listen to what they are asking you. Think carefully about your answer and more importantly, be honest in your answer, if they don’t hear from you what they want, then maybe this isn’t the right role for you.
By not answering with honesty and by second guessing what you think they want to hear will come across as insincere and they will see right through you.