Sum Gain Interviewing

I recently interviewed a promising candidate who had the goods: a pedigree education, an impressive track record in sales and an articulate and engaging manner.  What broke down was his hubris.  When asked about his professional and interpersonal challenges, he flatly said that he was at a loss to think of one.  Well, I have yet to find the “perfect” person and I’m sure he wasn’t one.  I then took a very direct approach and informed him that his attitude would not fly with hiring managers.

Many candidates have exceptional abilities and strengths.  But, when hiring managers are looking for a true self-assessment from you, they want honest and forthright answers.  Anything less won’t be believed.

Imagine you’re baking a cake and you inadvertently add a pinch of salt to a large batter of ingredients.  It will hardly be detectable and the end product will be no worse off.  Even if the salt slightly altered the taste, the good flavors would overshadow the bad.

Similarly, the sum gain strategy works in interviewing.  It’s acceptable to describe your challenges or weaknesses.  But just don’t leave it there.  Complete your thought with a description of your strengths that are relevant to the position for which you are applying.  People generally remember the last thing you say.  Thus, whatever weakness you have should ultimately pale in comparison to what you really bring to the table.

So this candidate could have said, “Well, I’m challenged with getting my sales reports in on time, but I’m especially adept at developing relationships that go far beyond the value of the transactions.”

Being refreshingly clean and crisp about both your strengths and challenges will always work to your advantage.

Read more tips and strategies on Interviewing on the Get What You Set web site.


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