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Answering “The Fatal Flaw” Question | No BS Job Search Advice Radio

Ep. 616 Jeff Altman, The Big Game, The Big Game Hunter offers an easy 3 step technique for responding to a “fatal flaw” question. 


Today, I will talk with you about 1 of those tough interview that comes up from time to time. I don't know what is going to be like for you but, invariably, on some interview, someone is getting asked that question about your background that deals with "the fatal flaw." You know that quality in the background that is missing from the job description. Maybe it is the lack of a degree, maybe it's the absence of some certification, maybe it's the absence of some small component of your background that they really would've liked you to have had, but you just don't.

So they ask about that degree or that certification. How do you deal with that?

We start by saying that you don't deny it.. You have to acknowledge it because it is obvious to them. You can trivialize it, but what you can do is start by acknowledging.

"Yes it is true I don't have a degree (or I don't have a Masters degree. I don't have a PhD in some particular field. Remember, they saw nothing. Your background to invite you in for this interview. They are tempted. You have to make them want you even more). There was a time in my life where I made a decision. It wasn't necessarily the best decision long-term, but, at the time, I needed to start my career (or maybe money was tight and I can afford to go back for the Masters). I've been meaning to do it, but my career has taken off." You do something that acknowledges the choice that you made back when.

Then, you continue by saying, "The impact of that decision is been. I've always competed with people with that credential and I've always had to work that much harder to achieve in competition with them so that the firm attains its goals." You can language this in your own way. The idea is to simply talk about how you've had to double down on your performance and how you've had to put in more effort to overcome the objection that even those in your previous firm that had or their apprehension about whether or not you could do what they want you to do, even though you didn't have that qualification.

Then, you continue by saying, "Consistently, I have been a top 2% performer at my firm. I was a top 5% performer my previous organization." Whatever the statistic is, cite it. You were promoted over others with it. Cite it. Tell me that you want to bring those same qualities of effort, diligence and determination to your next employer. If it seems like it works into the schedule, you have been thinking about going to get that certification, get that advanced degree, but 1st things 1st, you have a responsibility to the organization to get the job that you being hired for done.

That's the simplest way to handle "the fatal flaw question.". Again, just repeat the tactic, you don't deny it, you acknowledge it. You very briefly explain why it was that you made the choice. The impact on how you perform was that you always work that much harder. In situations where you are working with or competing with people who had that credential.

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You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell you as much as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.

The skills needed to find a job are different yet complement the skills needed to do a job.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a leadership and career coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. changes that with great advice for job hunters—videos, my books and guides to job hunting, podcasts, articles, PLUS a community for you to ask questions of PLUS the ability to ask me questions where I function as your ally with no conflict of interest answering your questions.

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