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How To Answer ‘What Would Your Last Manager Say About You?’

Source | Forbes : By Liz Ryan

There are a few traditional, time-honored job interview questions that don’t bother me. For instance, I think it’s great to ask a job-seeker “What do you know about our company?” a familiar question to anyone who’s been on either side of the interviewing desk.

I’m not a fan of the questions “What’s your greatest weakness?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “With all the talented candidates, why should we hire you?” These questions are self-indulgent and power-based. They don’t yield valuable information.

All they do is cement the outdated notion that the employer is mighty and the job-seeker is an ant. You don’t need to know where someone “sees” himself or herself in five years in order to decide whether or not to hire them. Their personal plans are none of your business. You don’t need to get into the depths of their soul.

Babies don’t come to earth with weaknesses but even if they did, why would those weaknesses be any of a job interviewer’s business?

I tell interviewers not to ask any question of a job applicant that they wouldn’t be happy to answer themselves one minute later in the same meeting. Most hiring managers, recruiters and HR interviewers wouldn’t be comfortable answering the interview questions they blithely ask job-seekers every day.

They wouldn’t appreciate it if the job-seeker asked them “Now that I’ve told you my weakness, what’s yours?”

They’d be horrified, because they think that they sit on a higher perch than a person who is applying for a job with their company. Many job applicants buy into the fiction that the company making a hiring decision has all the power.

That is nonsense, of course. Everybody in the interview room has a decision to make. Just because you interview a job applicant doesn’t mean that person will take the job if you offer it to him or her.

Smart employers, the ones who realize that the best job candidates need to be sold as much as the employer needs to evaluate them, snag the best people — and who could be surprised? Of course they do. They consider the job applicant an equal partner in the hiring tango.

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