Guidance for Job Seekers | Interview Tips
There is no better feeling than going for an interview for a job you really want. You are answering the questions well, you are showcasing your fantastic experience and skillset and then the interviewer hits you with the one question that can stop even the most prepared of interviewees in their tracks; what are your weaknesses?
Why do Interviewers ask About Your Weaknesses?
To answer this question well, it’s important to understand why the question is asked in the first place. The interviewer is trying to get past the ‘interview façade’ that potential employees put on when they are interviewing for a new job. Everyone is doing their best to impress when it comes to interviews, but these weakness questions are there to see the real you and see how self-aware you are.
This is where you can either keep your cool and give a great answer or potentially say something that may affect your chances of getting the job.
How Can The Question Be Asked?
There are a few ways an interviewer will ask this question.
- What is your biggest weakness? – Sometimes they will just outright ask you what your weaknesses are. This is probably the best scenario from an interviewee point of view as it is direct and you can prepare for it
- If I could ask your previous boss, what would they say your weaknesses are? This question is designed to see how self-aware you are and how you think you are perceived by colleagues and bosses
- If you could change something about yourself, what would it be? This is a softer version of the questions above, but the answer should be fairly similar
Do’s and Don’ts
Lets start with how not to answer this question:
- Saying something that is obviously a positive. Phrases like “I work too hard” or “I am too much of a perfectionist” are generally bland and the interviewer will see right through it
- Not answering the question at all. This will come across as if you haven’t prepared for the interview or that you have something to hide
- Giving them a weakness that will seriously affect your work. If you are going for a project manager role and you say something like “I find it hard to organise my time”, this will immediately raise a red flag for the interviewer. They may worry that you could miss deadlines and meetings that will stop you from fulfilling your role.
So, how should you answer this question and improve your chances of getting the job?
Choose a ‘GOOD’ Weakness
You are trying to highlight a weakness that isn’t a massive handicap for the role you are applying for. It is important to take these points into consideration:
- Choose a weakness that is small and can be easily fixed
- Make sure the weakness is ‘acceptable’ for the role you are interviewing for
- Be sincere
Demonstrate What You Are Working
Once you have stated what your weakness is, it is best to then say what you are doing to turn this weakness into a strength. This shows that you can identify weaknesses, can find ways to learn and grow and will take the initiative when needed.
Here is an example of a great answer to weakness related questions:
“I would say my biggest weakness is presenting and speaking to large groups of people. I know this is something I need to improve on as my career develops so I have been reading books on public speaking to improve my knowledge and skillset”.
To sum up:
- Choose a weakness that is fairly small and can be worked on
- Something that is not a major barrier to the responsibilities of the role
- Answer concisely and sincerely
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