The question of weaknesses is one that comes up quite often in job interviews and yet it never seems to get any easier to answer. Weaknesses are exactly what you do not want to tell a prospective employer about, but there you are, on the spot and unsure of what to say. Instead of heading in to the interview unprepared and taking it as it comes, create a plan and stick to it. You will be a lot less nervous when the question is asked and it may mean the difference between getting the job and leaving disappointed.
The truth is you do have weaknesses. Everyone does. Try taking an online personality quiz to see what those weaknesses actually are. This can help you to admit one of them to an interviewer when the time comes. Once you understand where your approach needs a little work, you can explain how you are conscious of the flaw and have taken steps to improve. Talk about your weakness as something you suffered from in the past and realized. Follow your statement with a description of what you've done to fix things and how things work out better now. For example say, "When I started in my last position I was unable to manage my time properly, but I developed a day plan to help eliminate that issue."
Instead of preparing an exact response to the question, try an ad lib approach that speaks to the situation and avoids any hollow-sounding cliches. For example, think through a few of your actual weaknesses and know them so you are not caught off guard should the topic come up. During your meeting, listen to your interviewer and try to read a bit into what she is looking for in a candidate. Let your judgement determine your approach and answer the question in the moment rather than planning a canned response. You won't sound staged, which the interviewer will appreciate. (Reference 1)
Study the position for which you are applying and learn exactly what duties it entails. Once you know what you will be doing on a regular basis, you can also determine which skills you will not be using on the job. Focus your attention on these unnecessary skills and admit to a weakness that will not have any immediate impact on your role. For example, if you are interviewing for a creative marketing position and admit a lack of interest in math, your weakness may not be a concern since it should not come into play in your new role.
Turning the Tide
Many people feel that admitting any type of real weakness can damage your status in the eyes of the interviewer and leave you further down the list of eligible candidates than you really want to be. Answering the question with a more general statement of positivity is one way to eliminate the fear of damaging your own reputation. Nicole Williams, a career expert with LinkedIn recommends the question be answered by explaining your penchant for taking on too much and your intent to be more focused in the future. Such a response admits only that you are a hard worker and takes nothing away from your candidacy.
- Forbes: How To Talk About Your Biggest Weakness In A Job Interview
- Forbes: How To Answer The Dreaded 'What Is Your Biggest Weakness' Interview Question
- US News Money: How to Answer 'What are your weaknesses?'
- US News Money: Master the 5 Toughest Interview Questions
- CNN: Answering 'What are your weaknesses?'
- The Boston Globe: Presenting Your Professional Weaknesses in an Interview
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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