“What’s Your Biggest Weakness?” –”None of Your Damn Business. What’s Yours?”

I recently declined to continue interviewing with a stupid little start-up, for several reasons listed below. At least the hiring manager or recruiter or whoever they are had the idea to ask why I didn’t want their money. I responded in these exact words, as follows.

Feedback: any company that thinks it’s appropriate to ask a person what their “biggest weakness” is clearly lacks respect for other peoples’ privacy, dignity and society’s basic social norms. The only answer to this question you deserve is: none of your damn business. What’s yours?  Such a question is completely inappropriate and absolutely insulting coming from a company; it is only appropriate for a person’s innermost private circle of relationships and is paramount to asking about a person’s medical or sexual history.

Furthermore, I don’t have have time, nor do I feel respected by, the idea of sitting through two or three rounds of interviews, including a lengthy phone call when I said “I have only a few minutes”, plus a “trial run” with a fake phone call in addition to test a person’s responses before they have even been trained. Extremely few companies for extremely few positions are that important or deserve such effort, and [your company] isn’t one of them. If a company like [your company] thinks it’s that much of a big deal, it’s clearly too self-absorbed and will likely treat applicants and people working for them as if we are desperate. And we are not.

The job market is excellent for job seekers right now, and nobody with a real life and self-respect is going to jump through these hoops for a little start-up that’s thinks it’s so hot. Even when the job market isn’t ideal for job-seekers, the strongest candidates still have more self-respect than to bend over and beg. They are willing to tough it out and use their intelligence for the right opportunity.

This Is What We Go Through

…on the job hunt.

Tell us about your previous experience and why you feel that would make you a good fit for this position.

I’m great at a lot of things, so there’s a lot of great reasons why you should hire me. One thing I’m great at is catching grammar mistakes, like the ones in your question: “experience” should have an “s” on the end, and “that” should be either “they” for plural or “it” for singular, if you insist.

Anyways, I know how to make an ancient friction fire from “rubbing two sticks together” as it’s colloquially referred to (it’s actually called a “bow-drill”), and that’s only a slice of it. You should see me in the 21st-century office. I’ve been through 10 years of work as a young adult bringing myself up in one carer that has taught me a lot, but now I’m setting my sights on better horizons, like you. You want me on your team for so many reasons, but to really find those out, you’ll need to offer me an interview (and hire me).

Tell us about any special skills or qualifications you feel would give you the ability to perform this job well.

I’m sure my aforementioned above answer was the bullseye you were really looking for. Oh, and I have a lot of fun with writing, communications and generally being one badass boss of a muffin who leads through compassion and deep respect for those I am responsible for and in service to. I’ve been the grunt, and now I want to take care of other grunts and keep them reassured that they don’t have to bail. They might even become your most amazing, profitable employees with the right investment of support in them.

What is your greatest strength?

Critical thinking.

What is your greatest weakness?

Chocolate. What’s yours?

What are some of your short-term and long-term goals?

My short term goals are to change careers, starting with Your Company™️, obviously the best little cohort in town. My long term goals are to retire filthy rich from flamboyant, risky investments and put my terrible, estranged mother in a retirement home.

This Is What We Go Through (Prologue)

Hi again, Recruiter. So, I went through the whole long application and got to the end and submitted it. The job then said that certain Amazon-related experience was required. I do not have this experience, but I can learn what I need on-the-job. You did not mention this during our phone call. I hope I didn’t go through that whole application for nothing.
I also noticed in your email that you have signed me up for a “group First Step interview”. We did not talk about a group interview: I was led to believe that this was a traditional one-on-one interview. I don’t do group interviews because I find them to be quite disrespectful of candidates’ time and dignity. We don’t need to be sitting in a room being talked at among our competition, hoping for a real interview: that’s degrading. If you’re willing and able to get me set up with a real, actual one-on-one interview, that’d be great. Thanks. If not, just let the next person know about this well in advance.
Say no to group interviews.

Taking the Time

My response to the request, “Please explain any gaps in employment greater than x [insert units of time here].”

Not everyone needs to work full time, all the time. Sometimes, people spend time doing other meaningful things that matter for their personal lives. I’m grateful that I’ve had the means to take the time for this. Work is important, but it’s not the sum of a full human life.

 

“Work is love made visible.”

I am changing my mind about work. It’s not been easy, but it’s up to me! I am among the blessed to have a good job. My only problem is my occasional fatigue, anxiety, and self-doubt left over from years of depression and some disadvantaged early experiences of frankly near-abusive work in my formative years as a teen. The problem is not the job I am lucky to have (working with kids at a beautiful private elementary school a 30-minute walk or 5-minute drive from where I live!) but rather, it is the natural challenge of staying inspired, pushing my own edges, expanding my abilities, practicing compassion for myself and others, and advocating for my readiness to grow into a greater role in the organization.

I know that whatever I do, I want to do it with vision and joy, but calling up the magic in the midst of the daily grind sometimes takes practicing tremendous grace and imagination, again and again and again. This is the real work hidden underneath the work we are paid money for. Put on new “perspecticles” when routine grinds on enchantment, or when fatigue threatens the upright mind. And let’s have compassion on ourselves: everybody feels this way sometimes, even people living their “dream job”.

 

 

“On Work”

from The Prophet

by Kahlil Gibran

You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons,
and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?

Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.

But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.

You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.

And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching.

Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”
But I say, not in sleep but in the overwakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.

Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.