If you’re asked the dreaded questions of strengths and weaknesses during an interview, you must have the perfect answer prepared ready to dazzle your interviewer. The point to the questions are to highlight your skills and admit your weaknesses. Responses such as “My strength is that I’m a hard worker. My weakness is that I get stressed when I miss a deadline” is not imaginative and says little about you as a person. Most people think of themselves as hard workers—who would actually admit to not being a hard worker? When confronted with this interview question, remember the interviewer is looking for the right ‘fit’ for their company.
How to answer: ‘What is your biggest weakness?’
Select a trait and come up with a solution to overcome your weakness thus turning a negative into a positive. Stay away from personal qualities and concentrate on professional traits that are relevant to the job you are applying for. By talking about skills that you have improved upon during your previous employment will show the interviewer that you can make improvements when necessary. Listing a weakness that is really a strength, such as: “I tend to be too much of a perfectionist” or “I take things personally” won’t get you far.
To avoid mentioning a weakness that can crush your chances of landing the job, review the job description to see what exactly the employer is looking for.
When answering the question, you want to:
- The confession – talk about the weakness
- The recovery – how you have managed this / how you minimise the impact of the weakness
Be sure to present these weaknesses in terms of how they impact the employer. Unfortunately, there are no text book answers to gives as each response will depend on the job role itself and your previous employment.
Some example of turning a negative into a positive:
‘Being organised wasn’t my strongest point, but I have since implemented a time management system that helped my organisation skills in order to prioritise what needed to be done first and when for.’
‘Some people would consider the fact that I have never worked in this industry before as a weakness. However, being a fast learner and open minded, I have no pre-conceived notions on how to perform my job. I am sure with the support of the team that I will pick it up quickly and efficiently.’
Interviewers may ask similar questions that expect the same response such as “Describe a difficult work situation and what you did to overcome it” or “What would your current boss say is your weakest area?”. This classic tricky interview question asks to reveal your shortcomings, but if you plan for it, this will be the opportunity to show that you’re right for the job. By being prepared and having some answers to hand will help you remain calm and composed when the question arises. Next week we will look at how to answer your biggest strengths.