Dear guild applicant, what’s your weakness?

There I sat at one of my job agencies last Wednesday, feeling horribly out of character. I am looking for a new job at the moment, that is to say for a new new job, one that is hopefully as unlike to my last few jobs as possible, but there’s a desert to cross first, an annoying phase of explaining curricula and dealing with administrative bullshit.
And I notice these job agencies all look the same: gray and impersonal bastions of corporate capitalism, “help us to help you, so we get money from you working”, it’s a modern version of slave-trade really. Nothing to make you feel the ordinary human resource you are quite like job agencies. But to get where I want to go apparently they’re my best shot.

So, I sat in that small cubicle office waiting for my agent, some way-too-young, teeth-bleached sunnyboy in a way-too-expensive suit. Instantly I felt under-dressed. The whole procedure took about 30 minutes, half an hour of jolly good fun trying to explain to Ken why I am looking for a change of scenery and what salary I deem appropriate, given the fact that I lack experience in the field while holding an academic degree that probably surpasses the education of most people I would be working with. There’s something horribly depressing in realizing those 7 years at university were worth so little. Maybe I should mention my epic WoW skills and guild leadership experience? No?

Anyway, halfway through the exercise Ken caught me slightly unawares as I wasn’t actually prepared to do a full job interview, all I expected was some administrative stuff – yeah, call me a noob. So when he got to asking how I see my future or what my strengths and weaknesses are, I actually didn’t know what to reply to the latter straight away. My weaknesses? Errr…right that’s the standard phony question you can expect in every job interview. You know, the one where you’re supposed to display how much of a self-critic you are, oh-so capable of self-reflection. And that’s why everyone answers with some wanna-be weakness that isn’t a weakness at all, but a strength too really, like “I am such a perfectionist” or “I’m overly punctual”.

HA-HA…!

I hate things like that. They’re part of what (the brilliant and ingenious) Billy Connolly calls”beige-ism”. Everyone knows how utterly stupid and empty these questions (and answers) are – as if you were gonna tell your future boss that you’re a messy slob or like to steal cookies from the cafeteria. So I just sat there for a moment contemplating a potential answer vs. my utter disgust for the procedure, before I told him I was a little impatient at times (which is actually true), but in the way that I “really like to get jobs done fast and efficiently” (which is again actually true), ya know! He seemed to be perfectly happy with this answer and the conversation proceeded to other topics from there. Phew.

An exercise in phoniness

On my way home, the whole experience got me thinking about what a hilarious thing it would be to incorporate the more nonsensical parts of job interviews into the standard WoW recruitment procedure. Most guilds, ours included, already run a questionnaire that will touch on matters like playtime, goals and expectations in their application form. What if we included the awkwardness of real interview questionnaires in them, could we expect to get similar cringe-worthy answers? What would we expect our applicants to say?

Question #14: What do you consider your weaknesses as a player?
– Answer 1: “Sometimes I am just so focused on downing a boss, I forget about my CDs or taking a potion.”
– Answer 2: “I’m a total perfectionist. I always want to be the main puller and clear every pack in an instance.”
– Answer 3: “I’m a little impatient. I always want to start raids on time and hate wasting time on bio breaks.”

Question #15: Where do you see yourself 2 years from now?
– Answer 1: “As a valuable member of your raid guild and one of your top DPS”
– Answer 2: “As part of your officer’s team where I can contribute in the guild’s best interests.”
– Answer 3: “I’ll be celebrating our success of having become one of the server’s top 2 progression guilds.”

Question #16: Why should we take you instead of that other applicant?
– Answer 1: “While I don’t know the other person, I assure you I am better than him.”
– Answer 2: “Because nobody can heal like I do.”
– Answer 3: “I am a 100% committed and fit your guild’s profile perfectly. We have a great future together!”


Now wouldn’t that just be a blast? I really think we should include these questions in our guild’s recruitment questionnaire for shits and giggles if nothing else! A lot of players already think that WoW feels like a job rather than a game sometime, so let’s go the whole nine yards I say! =D

P.S. Dear job agents, please don’t be offended. I do not actually dislike you, it’s not like you invented the system. And I like keeping the pen!

20 comments

  1. I change guilds infrequently, the last change was a transition from one to the other so i’ve not had to fill a guild application out for a while. I honestly can’t remember the form I filled out for Raging Fire or what I said. The guild before that, I didn’t have to as they were friends and the one before that, which I was in for a couple of years, I REALLY can’t remember.

    However, if I had to answer these questions now in the way I wanted to, they would be truthful, but wouldn’t necessarily make the best first impression:

    What do you consider your weakness as a player?
    I sometime drop crumbs from my cookies in my pants whilst playing, i really should know better then playing WoW in just my pants, but hell – it’s my house and I’ll do what I want, can get chilly though

    Where do you see yourself 2 years from now?

    Complaining about how shit the expansion is and how rediculously easy and soul-destroying the constant grind is to anyone that will listen really

    Why should we take you over the other applicant?

    You really shouldn’t. I’m grumpy, obnoxious, prone to shouty outbursts when people can’t get out of the fire or grasp a simple concept, have an annoying habit of being punctual and irritatingly prepared for raids with consumables and tactics, happen to have no life so i’m on regularly and always full of sexist and derogatory comments to fill guild chat with when I’m in the mood

    On the plus side though, i’ll make you laugh occassionally.

    Fortuantely though, I lied and got into Raging Fire and now these 2 are stuck with me!

  2. That was a fun read for me this morning.
    I’ve not had to apply for a job in a while, but I have had the weakness question a couple of times, and somehow succeeded in making the interviewers laugh. I usually give my weakness is x (no, I’m not telling you all my weaknesses! :P) followed by I do y to ensure it doesn’t affect my performance.

    As for applying it to a guild app, that’s interesting. In some ways, I think it’s usually apparent by default? For instance if I was asked about my rotation, and said something vague, it might be because my weakness is I don’t understand my class, or am bad at communication – the rest of the app should hopefully divulge which.

    I also filled in my very first guild application ever last month, so this is kind of fresh :D I guess if they’d asked me what my biggest weakness is, I’d probably have said my reading blogs on the side while playing :P

  3. @Grumpy
    lmao x) and that would make me want to invite you even more! :D
    in fact, these questions would really add some spice to app forms and give you a good idea whether an applicant got any sense of humor or not. i need to talk to stumps about it!

    @Issy
    making them laugh is probably the way to go – I still need to think of something I can prepare beforehand! you seem to have it figured out pretty well yourself, reading blogs while raiding haha, awesome! the things with replies such as these is, even if they were actually true people would not believe you. so when they find out later, it’s not like you didn’t tell them, right?

  4. Oh God, I HATE those strength and weakness questions. It took me a long time to realise (and, no, I don’t have a social disorder) that I was meant to be LYING in them. I used to answer them by thinking very seriously about weaknesses and then explaining with shame and sincerity that I’m really rather lazy and easily bored…

    Perhaps we should take the faux-weakness answers to their logical conclusions: “I’m a little impatient. I always want to start raids on time and I personally always shit in a sock to minimise on bio breaks…” “I’m a total perfectionist. Ideally I’d be able to take every role in the raid so I wouldn’t have to rely on the inadequacies of other people.” “Sometimes I am just so focused on downing a boss, I find myself screaming DIE MOTHERFUCKER DIE over Vent, which some members of my raid team find distressing and distracting.”

    Also I would like to offer the best academic interview question ever and be ‘best’ I mean “question that threw me for a total loop.” It was an American university so perhaps that explains it ;) Anyway the question “what kind of kitchen implement would you be.”

    Ummm…what?! At first I thought they were joking but I honestly had no idea how to answer it.

    “Well, esteemed potential colleagues, I’m a egg seperator because I always know how to get the good stuff from the dross.”

    “I’m one of those metal whisky whirly things because nobody knows what the hell to do with me.”

    “I’m a wooden spoon because you can never find me when you need me…”

  5. What a fantastic post!

    As I mentioned recently, we have been interviewing people for a position here at work and we had a very srs bzns discussion about how you’re supposed to answer that “What’s your weakness” question?

    Some people said you’re supposed to lie. Some people said you’re supposed to give a strength disguised as a weakness. Some people said it doesn’t matter what you say, it only matters how you say it.

    I gleaned from that that no one knows why the hell we ask those questions other than to try to trap or trick people into saying something they shouldn’t.

    And really, what a stupid way to run a search for a good team member! It’s so underhanded and mean, really.

    But I do digress from your point. And if I hadn’t just finished saying it was mean to try to make someone trip up and say something stupid then I would totally put these questions into my theoretical raid app.

  6. Amazingly, those questions *do* appear on many guild applications! Personally, I prefer the painfully obvious right answer questions; I’ve been subjected to a few over the years both in real life and in WoW.

    IRL – “Do you have problems meeting deadlines?”
    WoW – “Are you the type of player who needs things explained multiple times?”

    As to the best interview question I was ever asked, and then proceeded to use when I was on the opposite side of the table: “In any team environment, there are coaches (who lead and strategize), players (who are responsible for making things happen), captains (who both lead and do) and cheerleaders (who keep the team motivated). Which category best describes you?”

  7. @Tam – love your posts :) Don’t worry about being a bit crude, people who know us don’t expect us to be Saints – idiots if they do tbh.

    If I were a kitchen implement, i reckon i’d be a wooden spoon – the more i’m used, the better i taste

    wait

    what?

  8. Fake “weakness” answer are annoying.
    However: I’ve been on the employers side and while I’ve definitely seen a lot of crap answers to this kind of questions, they can actually be quite relevant and say something about the applicant. Only a mature person who has good insight in who her/she is has the guts to talk honestly about week sides and what he/she does to deal with it. Not that many people reflect over themselves in this way. But if you for instance has gone through extensive leadership training you probably have a good ground for talking about this in a meaningful way. I admit though that it’s quite rare.

    By the way I don’t know if you noticed that Bronthe wrote a post on this topic recently:
    http://deuwowlity.blogspot.com/2010/10/overselling-yourself.html

  9. Whenever I am asked a phony question like “what is your greatest weakness” or some crap like that, I can proudly say I have never given a crap or phony answer.

    Usually, I make a comment about how I know I’m supposed to make a “my weakness is actually a strength” answer, then I engage the interviewer with a counter question or talk about something that I really struggle with, like a speach impediment (which I have).

    IF I were a guild leader, recruiting using fake or good questions, I’m afraid I would hold people to a higher standard than normal, and if I felt that they gave me a phony answer I would reject their application.

    BTW, I apply to a lot of places when looking for jobs, and I get very few interviews. But since I graduated college, there has only been one interview where I wasn’t offered the job using the technique of non-phony honesty as my strategy. 1. I think employers appreciate straight talk more than the employment “experts” would have us believe.

  10. I’ve interviewed a fair number of people in my professional life and the strength/weakness question is interesting. When I ask it, I’m not actually interested in your weaknesses. What I’m listening for is how you talk about your own performance, your relation to work and inner challenges. As long as you don’t completely blow it (“I have none” “I steal office supplies”), I’m just looking for a spark of character. If you give me the fake, textbook answer, we can move on to another question that tries to get at the same thing in a different way.

    The guilds I’ve been in want to know the same sort of thing from new applicants but most find out during a trial period. The real question is what sort of person are you?

  11. @ Tam

    lmao..what a fucked up question is that? I’d have no idea what to reply…maybe errmm…I’m an ice machine? ya know, cold inside but makes for sweet drinks? uhhh…maybe not.
    this reminds me of a friend of mine from the US who actually had huge issues finding a job over there (he settled over from europe) for over a year. they’ve entirely different standards for job interview and ‘selling yourself’ gets a whole new meaning too – he had to actually take coaching lessons to learn to talk (and boast) the way it was needed to get him a job. I don’t think I could ever do that, things are kinda down to earth here in comparison and saying things like “i’m the best” or “you want me” is likely to get you into trouble.
    oh and vulgarity absolutely has its place! ;)

    @Alas

    agreed, I just feel it’s so weird to actually ask somebody you’re looking to recruit what his weaknesses are – in the end how much can an interview really tell you about somebody? but like other commenters pointed out, it’s more to test your reaction than anything else.

    @Vixsin
    I definitely like that question better. and it is quite a revealing one as well.

    @Larísa
    I can see where the question could be meaningful, but I think the issue is that at a lot of places you simply cannot dare to be so honest, not as a standard lowbie worker anyway. here we got companies that value honesty but we also got those that want to hear you lie and sell yourself. it’s very hard to know what you’re dealing with. :s

  12. @Kleps

    hehe good luck with that!

    @Gronthe

    there’s something utterly disarming about honesty like that and it’s a fantastic way to deal with the question. :)
    I can see how that will get you points with your audience and I will definitely prepare my future answers in a similar way. cheers!

    I do believe however that it also highly depends on a) where you live / what the culture of employment is and b) what sort of work you’re applying for. like I mentioned to Tam there’s places where being over-confident is asked for and encouraged while it’s completely different somewhere else….but maybe your reaction to that just needs to be that you don’t care for a workplace where they want you to lie? that takes a certain level of financial independence though – not everyone can ‘afford’ to be honest in the same way, as sad as it sounds.

    @anonymous
    I agree completely, in any guild application these questions are aimed to see what person you are and how you deal with them, rather than what your actual reply is (extremes aside).

  13. As someone who’s been looking for work for several months now, this post makes me both grin and cringe.

    Incidentally, I had a job interview today where I mentioned WoW in response to one of those phony questions (don’t ask), and then the interviewer suddenly burst out about how he was playing too, had five eighties and was going to level a goblin in Cataclysm! I nearly burst out laughing because it just felt like such an absurd derailment… if I actually get the job I’ll make a post about it. :P

  14. Haha please do! that’s awesome tbh, there’s probably a fair likelihood of actually finding WoW players among co-workers, but most of us would hesitate to mention it during a job interview! =D

  15. You should do the opposite and ask for their secret super hero powers.

    Seriously, games are made to enjoy, have fun and relax and not for applications. I know, that it is very helpfully to let the applicant write some paragraphs about him, to inform the guild and collect opinions, but somehow it doesn’t fit into this genre.
    I wouldn’t like to abolish them, but I’m also not a advocate of them.

    Thanks for the warm welcome by the way.

  16. We had those questions in our guild application. Some of the answers were true zingers, like: “My biggest weakness is that I can’t take bullshit from anyone. if you are full of shit, kindly GTFO. I guess you cannot call this a weakness. It’s really more of a strength.”

    Uh…

  17. “Where do you see yourself 2 years from now?”

    In your seat, asking inane questions to people to see what sort of dumb answers they come up with.

    …yeah, I have little tolerance for office weaselspeak.

  18. @Tesh

    haha, neither do I! not sure quite so much honesty is advisable in an interview though! ;)

    @Bronte

    I hope you didn’t accept them into your guild! =P

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