When a weakness is a “challenge”

The most common inquiry I’ve gotten from job-seekers over the years has got to be, “how do I give the ‘right’ answer to interview questions? Each time, my reply is pretty much the same; if you approach these questions strategically yet honestly you’ll earn an employer’s respect.

For example, when approaching the interview question,

“What is your greatest weakness(es)?”

Don’t say:

“I work too hard” or “I’m too detail oriented” (unless that’s true in which case… lucky you!)

Believe it or not, most hiring managers don’t appreciate these kinds of answers. Not only do they seem dishonest but you’ll end up sounding like a total brown-noser! In this economy most employers don’t want “yes” men but rather innovators, besides if they really just wanted “yes” men would you want to work for them anyway?

Do say:

“I don’t have as much experience working with ABC computer program as I’d like given that I didn’t have the opportunity to do so at my last position”

The key is in the approach, instead of thinking of “weaknesses” view the question as referring to “challenges” that way you are less likely to fall into the trap of talking about character traits, which are seen as unchangeable and instead focus on skills, which are learned. Be careful however, you don’t want to say you aren’t good at using Microsoft Excel or Access for a data entry job; instead pick a real skill that is not extremely applicable to the position.

Then make sure you include in your answer how you’re overcoming these “challenges.” Use examples such as taking a course, reading a book, doing an online tutorial, it really doesn’t matter, the important part is that you are being proactive, adaptable and feel a desire to fill important gaps in your knowledge.

Now “challenge” yourself to handle those tricky interview questions with aplomb!

Elaine Logie is a Career Consultant Certificate student and MCACES Blogger. MCACESBlogs is resource created by the MCACES Employment Advisement Program for job seekers, career practitioners and peers. Like what you read? Be sure to follow our blog or become part of our MCACES community, http://www.facebook.com/mcaces, http://www.twitter.com/mcaces.Image


3 Questions to ask BEFORE the Interview

Getting called for an interview is THE goal of the job search process. Exuberance can easily trump rationale if you aren’t careful.

When a job seeker receives a phone call for an interview, sometimes the excitement and nervous energy can replace the need to ask some important questions. If the following information is not provided by the recruiter or human resources professional prior to the interview, these questions may assist in preparing for the process.

Use these 3 questions to ensure “getting the call” goes smoothly.

Where do I go?                                                                                                                                                                   The bigger the company, the more challenging it may be to find your interview destination. There may be a visitor’s parking area or a specific entrance that’s closest to the interview location. Whether you drive or take public transit, be sure to do a “test run” of how long it will take you to get to the location.

Who will be interviewing me?                                                                                                                                      It’s perfectly acceptable for a job seeker to know who in the company will be present at the interview. It may alleviate some anxiety knowing who (and how many) people will be there. Such information could also assist you with thinking up some questions to ask for the interview.

Is there anything in addition to the interview itself that I should prepare for?                      Many job interviews consist of a question and answer period in addition to some type of testing or presentation process depending on the scope of the position. It’s always best to be prepared ahead of time. Sometimes, an employer may surprise job candidates, and not inform them of any tests.

Be rational.

If a job posting lists proficiency with a specific program, or that the position requires a good amount of public speaking, chances are you will be tested on the competencies that are heavily weighted within the job description.


Lidia Siino is the Professional Development and Communications Strategist for MCACES, the Mohawk College Association of Continuing Education Students. MCACESBlogs is a series of blog posts created by students and faculty from the Career Consultant Certificate Program for readers seeking new and improved levels of employment. Like what you read? Be sure to follow MCACESBlogs. Happy reading!


The most important steps before the BIG interview

You’ve just been called for an interview and it’s for tomorrow morning! If you’re anything like me you’ve got angry butterflies in your stomach and are nervously pacing the house. You’re thinking about all the potential scenarios (positive and negative) that obsessively play over and over in your mind. Okay maybe that’s just me but I can definitely say that this is not the best use of your time or energy. Instead here are some much better uses for your time:

1. Check the company website again.
Most likely you have already looked into the company when you first applied for the job, but check it again. Look at projects or initiatives that interest you or you feel skilled enough to contribute to if hired since they can become talking points when the interviewer asks “Do you have any questions for me?”

2. Lay out your clothes.
This will take the stress out first thing in the morning, plus if you need to sew on a button or iron a shirt you will have plenty of time to do it. If the weather has been a bit iffy have an alternative outfit ready as well. It’s important to remember recruiters notice details so no sport socks with dress pants!

3. Research how to get to the interview.
If you are taking public transportation, print off the route times and connections thoroughly and plan to leave yourself plenty of time just in case. Once I had to take a subway to an interview in Toronto and there was a fire on the subway line, luckily I gave myself lots of extra time and alternative routes so I wasn’t sweating it…too much!

4. Go for a walk or do some “light” exercises.
Don’t over do it! You don’t want to be doubled over in pain or limping to your interview. I remember a time when I was getting over a bad cold, the night before my interview I coughed so hard that I bruised a muscle, subsequently I winced whenever I breathed too hard or laughed. Didn’t get the job so it’s hard to say what kind of impression that made.

5. Get your marketing material ready.
Print off several copies of your resume and reference sheets especially if you are not sure of the number of interviewers. Also bring a list of potential questions and the job posting. If applicable for your industry, bring your portfolio with examples of your work and make sure it’s up-to-date.

6. Practice common interview questions.
Thinking of answers to common questions using the SAR (situation, action and result) technique will allow you to feel prepared. These answers should be framed in such a way to give the interviewer a positive impression of who you are and how you think, so pick situations where you either increased efficiency, productivity, workplace morale or made a customer happy.

Remember the more you prepare ahead of time the less stressed you’ll feel on the big day, and once it’s over congratulate yourself for making it through in one piece!

Elaine Logie is a current student of the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. MCACESBlogs is a series of blog posts created by students for job seekers. Like what you read? Be sure to follow us or check back often for a variety of job search related posts. Happy reading!Dont-Disturb-Interview-Progress-Sign-SE-5520

When I ask you the time…

How much interview information is too much information? Read this popular mcacesblogs post and find out!


As a Recruiter, I get a lot of questions on how to answer certain interview questions. And while I’m happy to go through standard interview questions, and what potential employers may be looking for, there is a more pressing matter that I need to deal with. There have been countless times when I’ve asked a question and was still listening to the answer five minutes later. Except, at this point, the answer is no longer relevant to the question that I’ve asked. In our society we have an acronym we’ve coined – TMI, which stands for Too Much Information. Remember this when you are in an interview situation. Answer the question at hand. Do not go off on a tangent or, as one of my coworker’s used to preface a change in her dialogue, a fork in the road.

I do feel sometimes that I can write a book on…

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Finding That Dream Job (Part 4)

Does anyone like interviews?  The very thought of an interview makes me nervous.  In fact, I think I’m breaking out in hives just writing about the topic!  Unfortunately, job interviews are a necessary component of getting a job.  My advice is to research your potential employer, know your stuff and most importantly, try to relax!

Job interview tips!

Job interview tips!

You can learn about your potential employer a couple of ways.  Check out their website and familiarize yourself with their policies.  You can also do a Google search on your soon-to-be employer.  If you have friends or acquaintances that work for the company, give them a shout and find out about the interviewing process.  For example, will you be interviewed by a single person or a panel?  Are there multiple steps to the interviewing process?

Prior to the interview, make sure you’re well prepared so you can walk into the interviewing room with a confident, (but not arrogant) stride!  If you are a teacher, go over the Ontario Curriculum documents and other vital documents.  What types of questions might they ask at the interview?  Brainstorm possible questions and practice, practice, practice, answering the questions in an articulate manner.

Finally, relax and try to enjoy the experience as much as possible.  For me, a job interview is a great excuse to buy a new outfit!  My point is, make sure you know exactly what you are going to wear prior to the day of the interview.  You don’t want to be immersed in a total state of panic, trying to find the perfect outfit.  Also, get directions to the interview location prior to the big day.  I’ve actually done a “drive-by” a few days before some interviews to make sure I knew exactly where I’d be going.

My last parting thoughts on the topic of interviews – have a cup of herbal tea, perhaps chamomile, and plan to arrive ten minutes early.  But most importantly, be yourself, and remember to smileJ

Renee Morley is a Continuing Education Student currently studying within the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, www.mcaces.ca or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at Lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.