Ask The Career Coach

Ask The Career Coach

I am often asked questions about the job search process. Periodically, I will have a blog post where I answer some of these questions. If you have a job search question, please email me at

How do I say goodbye at the conclusion of an interview? It always seems a bit awkward.

Most candidates leave an interview saying “thank you” and maybe conclude with a parting handshake. It is okay, but certainly not very memorable. What I have seen candidates do effectively, and what I recommend, would go something like this.

“Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today. I really enjoyed our conversation and our time today has reaffirmed that I would very much like to work with you and the team. I hope that I demonstrated that I can be an asset. If you need any additional information from me, please do not hesitate to ask. “

Many candidates do not come out and say that they want the job. Saying this at the end of the interview ends the meeting on a positive note and if two candidates are very close in skills, sometimes the one that seems to want the job more will end up being selected.

 When you are asked about your greatest weakness, should you tell the truth? I don’t want to tell the interviewer my true weakness or they might not hire me. Can I say that I have no weaknesses?

First of all, the question is not really a good one for an interviewer to ask, because many job seekers “fudge” the answer. Job seekers nowadays are expecting this question, so most people have rehearsed an answer. Career coaches used to tell people to pick a weakness but turn it around so it is a positive. Every candidate asked this question was too much of a workaholic, or too detail oriented or something else that was really a non-answer. Interviewers hate, and I will repeat, hate this type of answer. You will not win any points with it.

What you need to do is give thought about your true weaknesses. You know them, and there will be more than one. Now think about how you went about identifying them. Are they something you know about yourself or have they been brought to your attention by a supervisor? When you became aware of the weakness, what have you done to try to work on it? That is the story that the interviewer wants to hear.

So as an example, you could say that something like the following:

“I was told by a supervisor that I was not a good listener. What I was doing was thinking about how to respond instead of really listening to the person. When this was pointed out to me, I thought about it and acknowledged that was what I was doing. This supervisor told me that really listening to what another person said was powerful and would make me a better team player. So what I did was take a class in listening skills. We had exercises where we really had to listen and not respond back at all to what was being said, even if it was confrontational. At first, it was a bit hard, but with practice, I have gotten much better. Developing my active listening skills has also helped me better pick up body language, because not only am I listening, but I am truly focused on the person when they talk. I can say that I am a better team player because of this.”

The above is a thoughtful answer that is very real. What you have told the interviewer is that you have an awareness of your weaknesses and can work to improve them. With effort, you have overcome the weakness. This is the standards situation-action-result format that you should use to provide concrete examples when you answer interview questions.

 How do your sneak out for an interview and not have people notice when you are employed?

If you do not work the usual 9 am-5 pm schedule, then interviewing on your off hours should be easy. I am guessing that you do work a normal schedule and your absence in the middle of the day would be noticed. Here are some options:

  • Try to time an interview around a lunch hour

  • Take either a full or half day off. That way it is your time anyway. No need to tell anyone why. If asked, say you have something you need to take care of that cannot be done on the weekend.

  • If you have flexible work hours, try to schedule an interview first thing in the morning and come in afterward or schedule something at the end of the day and come in early.

This gets a bit trickier when you have multiple interviews and your absences will be noticed. Try working with the hiring company to schedule time when your absence is less conspicuous. Many will understand and try to be as flexible as possible. It may be that even if you try to be sneaky, someone will figure it out. Having been in HR for so long, I could always tell when someone was interviewing, as their work patterns change. If you are starting to look, you may want to start changing your work patterns now, so that it is less noticeable when you do start interviewing.


Did that interview really go as well as you think?

Did that interview really go as well as you think?

Terrible questions to ask if you really want the job

Terrible questions to ask if you really want the job

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