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lifeinhd

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 26, 2008
1,419
49
127.0.0.1
Today I went on my first job interview. Everything went well, except there was a part I wasn't sure of. The interviewer asked if I could change one character trait, what it would be. I know the answer to this question is supposed to be "Nothing," but I couldn't bring myself to say that. So instead I paused, looked him in the eye, and said clearly and thoughtfully: "I'm a good son, a caring friend, and a loving brother. I wouldn't want to change any of those things."

What do you think?
 

Macky-Mac

macrumors 68030
May 18, 2004
2,777
1,648
I suppose interviewers who ask questions like that, deserve answers like that :p
 

Mac'nCheese

Suspended
Feb 9, 2010
3,752
5,101
It's more about how u answer the question then what your answer is. Did u think too long? Did u laugh or act like u were uncomfortable? Did u seem to be truthful or just making up some bs? Etc
 

steve2112

macrumors 68040
Feb 20, 2009
3,023
6
East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
It's more about how u answer the question then what your answer is. Did u think too long? Did u laugh or act like u were uncomfortable? Did u seem to be truthful or just making up some bs? Etc

Yeah, that is what I have discovered. Like everything else associated with job hunting, there seems to be more than one approach to this. How you answer is the main approach. There is one school of thought that says "nothing" is correct, since it shows you are happy with yourself, and plus, why would you admit character flaws upfront? Another school of thought is to answer it so that a weakness seems like a strength. Something like "I tend to get too caught up in my work and lose track of time" or some B.S. like that.

I dunno. Like every other aspect of job hunting, I basically gave up trying to figure out what is "correct". You see conflicting reports all over the internet. "You need a one page resume!" "No, multiple pages will be fine!" Stuff like that.
 

lifeinhd

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Mar 26, 2008
1,419
49
127.0.0.1
It's more about how u answer the question then what your answer is. Did u think too long? Did u laugh or act like u were uncomfortable? Did u seem to be truthful or just making up some bs? Etc

I had it perfectly planned in my head how I would say it, and it sounded great, but unfortunately after I said it I thought it sounded a bit corny, cheesy, and daft, all rolled into one. I guess that's mostly what I'm trying to get a judgement on-- does that statement, even stated seriously, come off as cliche or even sarcastic?
 

Thomas Veil

macrumors 68030
Feb 14, 2004
2,635
8,857
Much greener pastures
Best answer. :)

Seriously, I always answer questions like that with something along the lines that I'm a perfectionist.
Bingo!

I don't think the OP's answer was bad, but yours is the one I've tended to go with. I tell them, "I'm never really satisfied with something, I always think it can be made better."
 

eRondeau

macrumors 65816
Mar 3, 2004
1,078
236
Canada's South Coast
I think you did just fine.

I remember my first job interview, for a part-time technician job at a small radio station. I was 15. My boss asked me if I'd ever taken apart a toaster. I paused for a moment and said "Not when it's still plugged in." I got the job!
 

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,055
162
Canada, eh?
What the OP did was deflect the question and took an opportunity to promote himself. It feels like something out of a politician's bag of tricks, but it works!

Otherwise, answer in a way that says that your negative could also be seen as a positive. "I am a bit of a perfectionist" is a good example.

Remember too that there's not always a "right" answer and even the answer you think is right isn't necessarily the one they're looking for. In one job interview (for a software position) I was asked my opinion of a particular development methodology (UML modelling tools with "round-trip" code generation). It was very new, very "slick", and being taught in my engineering courses. But I had some real issues with it, and I said so in the interview. I said it was good for small projects like what I had done in school, but that I felt it could be a real pain for anything much larger than that, and I listed the reasons I thought so.

I got the job. Later I heard that my answer to that question was what sold them on me. I wasn't some bitter old-timer that was afraid of "the new-fangled stuff", nor was I a naive fresh grad or high level manager with ideas of changing the world with new and better processes. (The company already had plenty of people from both of those camps, and the developers were getting tired of it). They liked that I had a realistic, practical outlook and a diplomatic way of describing the issues.

Bottom line: Sell yourself positively, but be yourself. If you're not, they'll find out soon enough anyway.
 

Gregg2

macrumors 603
May 22, 2008
6,470
703
Milwaukee, WI
Whatever happened to answering questions truthfully? :eek:

Like: I've never thought about that. (or, I haven't thought about that for awile.) I don't really know if there's any trait I want to change. I mean, if there was, I'd be in the process of trying to change it.
 

(marc)

macrumors 6502a
Sep 15, 2010
724
2
the woods
It's a question many interviewers ask but I don't like it, because it makes you lie. There are many things about me I'd like to change (and I guess most people feel the same way) but that's something I'd discuss with my wife or a close friend, not my employer.
 

r1ch4rd

macrumors 6502a
Aug 5, 2005
980
1
Manchester UK
Whatever happened to answering questions truthfully? :eek:

I don't know if it is a cultural thing, but I would never answer the question how many are suggesting. If I asked that question and somebody said "I'm a perfectionist" I would just think it was B.S.

For my current job I answered truthfully. In my case, it's procrastination. To counter that, I explained what I do to stop things drifting (keeping an up to date to-do list and calendar appointments etc.). This shows you are aware of your weaknesses and you know how to fix the problem. Nobody is perfect and I think it is very important to be able to accurately understand your weaknesses and limitations.

Just my personal opinion.
 

184550

Guest
May 8, 2008
1,980
2
I would have something along the lines of 'I work too hard, I care too much and sometimes I'm too invested in my job.'.

Thanks Michael Scott. :p
 

Macky-Mac

macrumors 68030
May 18, 2004
2,777
1,648
I had it perfectly planned in my head how I would say it, and it sounded great, but unfortunately after I said it I thought it sounded a bit corny, cheesy, and daft, all rolled into one. I guess that's mostly what I'm trying to get a judgement on-- does that statement, even stated seriously, come off as cliche or even sarcastic?

Don't worry. You were prepared with an answer and didn't appear dumb while trying to think about how to answer without shooting yourself in the foot.

That question is so cliche and anybody who has made any attempt to prepare for an interview knows that they might get asked a question like that. As a result, most answers are going to sound cliched too. It's really only those without any ready answer at all that look bad.

In any event, it's likely the interviewer had already formed his opinion of you by the time he came to that question.
 

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,055
162
Canada, eh?
At the very least if your answer is truly "I'm a perfectionist" (which it is, in my case) -- be able to back it up with specific examples so they know you're not just BSing.
 

plinden

macrumors 601
Apr 8, 2004
4,023
134
This is a question only inexperienced interviewers ask, who have googled for a list of interview questions. It tells the interviewer nothing about you except whether you've googled the same list of interview questions.

I've been asked this only once, in my first ever interview, and I bs'ed about being a perfectionist, only to be challenged on it by the interviewer. And I've never asked anyone this myself while interviewing anyone.

Still, you should probably be prepared for this kind of question. The best answer is actually to prepare something truthful. r1ch4rd's is the one I wouldn't mind hearing if I were to actually ask this. I'd be disappointed in the rest of the answers.
 
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