If you have been to an interview you probably know that interviewers love asking you about your weaknesses. While it is an interesting way to find out whether the candidate is suited to the post, it can also be nerve-wracking for the candidate. Read on to find out how you can talk about your weaknesses!
Why this question is important?
Everyone has specific strengths and everyone has specific weaknesses. It’s pretty certain that if you are not clear on your weaknesses then you are not clear on your strengths, and your value at the office will be questionable.
The interviewer wants to know about what you can’t do, or what you have difficulty with on the job. How you respond will also help the interviewer understand how well you know yourself, as well as whether you would be a good fit for the role.
Often interviewers ask this question because:
1. They’re trying to get past your nice, presentable interview facade and get a sense of what you’re really like to work with — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
2. Even if you don’t answer honestly, your answer tells them something about you. If you dodge the question or try to fake your way through, the interviewer will wonder if:
You’ve got scary secret weaknesses that you won’t discuss.
You think you’re perfect because you have no self-awareness.
You think you’re perfect because your standards are very low.
What to Say When You are Talking about Weaknesses:
Weaknesses are tricky to talk about, so you need to be careful when sharing examples of yours. You don’t want to knock yourself out of contention for the job because the interviewer thinks you’re not qualified. You do want your answer to be honest, but as positive as possible.
Examples of Weaknesses
There are different categories of weaknesses that you can choose from when answering interview questions about your shortcomings. However, do not choose a weakness at random. Instead, make sure the one you select is not critical to the job, and mention in your interview the ways you plan to improve upon this weakness.
- Hard Skills
You might mention a hard skill as your weakness. Hard skills are job-specific abilities that are easily quantifiable. They are developed through school and other forms of training. Examples of hard skills include computer skills, finance, mathematics, creative writing, etc.
2. Soft Skills
Soft skills are important for almost every job. Unlike hard skills, these are skills that are hard to quantify; they encompass your personality traits, your communication abilities, and your social skills. While they are important, you can pick out one soft skill to mention as a weakness. Some soft skills you might mention when answering questions about your weaknesses include:
Creativity, Delegating tasks, Humor, Spontaneity (you work better when prepared), Organization, etc.
3. Interpersonal Skills
You might mention a weakness that relates to your ability to interact with others. Of course, you want to make sure you don’t come across as someone who can’t work well with co-workers. Pick one specific issue you struggle with, and then talk about how you have worked to improve on this type of interaction. Examples of interpersonal skills you might mention as weaknesses include: Confrontation, covering for co-workers, expecting too much from colleagues. expressing too much frustration with underperforming staff or colleagues etc.
Tips for Talking About Weaknesses
Focus on qualities not necessary for the job. When you consider which weaknesses to mention in an interview, keep in mind that you should focus on qualities that are not central to the requirements of the job for which you are interviewing. For example, if you are applying for a job in accounting, you don’t want to say your weakness is mathematics.
Keep it positive. It’s important to try and remain positive. You might also explain how your weakness could be seen as a positive in the job. For example, being very detailed oriented is an asset for many positions.
Be honest. Finally, while you want to be positive, you should also be honest. Answers like, “I don’t have any flaws” will come across as insincere.
Common Mistakes People Make While Talking About Weaknesses:
Here are the mistakes that they typically make (you may be able to relate):
1. Trying to turn a negative into a positive.
You’ll find many books and articles that advise you to “turn a negative into a positive” by sharing a supposed weakness that is actually a desirable quality in an employee. A few examples:
I am too much of a perfectionist.
I work too hard sometimes.
I care too much about my work.
2. Refusing to answer the question.
Some candidates will assert that they can’t think of a single weakness. This is probably because they don’t prepare for the question properly and freeze up, afraid to say the wrong thing. This answer also makes you look like you are hiding something.
3. Revealing a weakness that raises red flags.
Another mistake is to be too candid and confess to a weakness that would hinder your ability to excel in the role. I once had a coaching client answer, “I have trouble getting up in the morning and getting to work on time.” His real weakness was that he was way too honest.
Interview Questions About Weaknesses:
Here are some of the different weakness questions that are regularly asked in job interviews:
What is your greatest weakness?
What are some of your weaknesses?
If I called your current/previous manager, what would he/she say that you need to work on?
Tell me about a development goal that you have set.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What do you most want to improve in the next year?
In A Nutshell:
Just like talking about strengths, talking about weaknesses also needs to be done skillfully. Modern employers are always on the lookout for the sharpest and the most skilled individuals. Therefore in order to make the cut, it is important that you talk about your strengths and weaknesses effectively.