Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Answering questions, pt. 1

I have a telephone interview coming up, so I'm going to spend a few posts discussing how I would answer some of the questions I anticipate fielding.  I'll also proffer a few thoughts on how others should approach answering them.

Anticipated question #1:
"Tell us about your greatest weakness."

I've mentioned Manager Tools before, and I think they regularly offer good advice.  In a recent "members only" podcast, they talked about how to handle this question in an interview.  Their advice is great, and it serves everyone well-- the interviewee actually answers the question (rather than dodging it), but is also given a way to save face.

They advise an essentially three-part answer:
  1. Qualify your answer-- in other words, state outright that this is not your struggle in every moment.  Say, "sometimes" or "in certain situations" or some other like qualification.
  2. State a real weakness.  Don't soft-pedal or understate, and don't find something utterly irrelevant to the job.
  3. Tell what you are doing to improve on it.  Notice the present active tense-- this is not what you plan or hope to do, but the action you are in the process of taking to strengthen what is weak.
Mike and Mark offer a lot more insight into how to understand the question, identify a good weakness, and even things like presentation of the answer.  I would encourage everyone to have a listen to their advice.

As for me, here's something akin to the answer I'll give:

In situations where I have a conflict with someone else, I sometimes have difficulty accepting my part of the responsibility for the conflict and responding appropriately.  In those moments I become defensive, rather than apologizing for my errors and seeking repentance.  In the past, this has caused tension in relationships, and has hindered me in ministry.  I have learned a lot about dealing with my own pride and sin through studying Ken Sande's Peacemaker, and I've recently begun reading Miroslav Volf's Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace which is teaching me a lot about living relationships more graciously.  I have also been dialoging about this problem with my friend Dan Zink, who is Professor of Christian Counseling at Covenant Seminary.

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