Stop Asking This One Interview Question (and what to ask instead)

“What is your greatest weakness?”

In a recent Linkedin poll, 44% of respondents reported that this question irked them the most. It feels like a trick question with only wrong answers. Some employers like to use this as a “gotcha” question to see how candidates respond to stressful situations. But this question has been overused since the 1960s, so it hardly surprised any candidate.

Hospitality employers already struggle to see candidates through the interview process. So do your candidates and hiring managers a favor and nix that question from your interview process forever. Here’s what do to instead to engage and get to know more candidates.

Ask Smarter Questions. Not Harder Questions

This question leaves the door wide open for candidates to give trivial answers that are unhelpful to interviewers. Since candidates tend to expect this question, they usually prepare a low-risk canned answer. Or they will try to be sneaky and share a flaw that could also be a positive (“I work too hard”). Or even if they respond with an insightful answer, it might not be accurate.

There are plenty of other ways to figure out where a candidate’s opportunities lay. You will likely get clearer answers by asking them to “share a time they did not know how to complete an assigned task.” Not only does this open a discussion about knowledge gaps, but they also have the opportunity to show problem-solving abilities.

If there are specific qualities that you hope to avoid, then just ask about them. If you need someone with strong conflict resolution skills, ask how they handle difficult employees or customers.

Look for Progress

The best employees have weaknesses, but they also strive for improvement. Ask candidates what skills they have recently gained or what they are currently trying to improve. This allows candidates to share positive qualities and still give you a glimpse at where they have opportunities. Also, by not focusing on negative traits, interviewers can create a better candidate experience.

Press their References

Chances are that candidates only supply references they know will give glowing reviews. Though a reference may feel uneasy about explicitly listing a candidate’s flaws, ask something like ”What can they improve on most to make them a better leader?” Again, focusing on progress encourages more honest and productive answers. Be sure to ask for references that include peers and subordinates, not just supervisors, to get a well-rounded impression of your candidate.

Partner with Recruitment Experts

Hospitality employers are facing truly unique hiring difficulties in the coming year. In such a difficult market, the margin for error during the recruitment process is razor thin. Employers need to hire employees that they know will be successful long-term, but they also can’t afford to see candidates drop out during the interview process. Partner with hospitality recruitment experts who can engage the top candidates with the right qualities for your company. Contact the recruiters at Horizon Hospitality to learn more.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *