How to answer the Interview Question: Tell me about your weaknesses
As a college senior and active job-seeker, I have been exposed to the dreaded “strengths and weaknesses” interview question one too many times. It is one of the most common interview questions out there, yet it still seems to stump even the most confident of candidates. From, “Tell me about a time you made a mistake,” to, “What would you say is your biggest weakness?” it’s hard to admit when you have done something wrong or acknowledge an area where you have deficiencies.
But, it doesn’t have to be completely negative! Take this as an opportunity to show your self-confidence and demonstrate how you continually work to improve your professional self. If you can take your biggest weakness and show how you work to overcome it, it will demonstrate your self-awareness and your commitment to improving your shortcomings.
Recruiters ask this question during an interview to see how you handle uncomfortable situations and how your weaknesses will not be an issue in the job. It’s important to be careful as to how you respond to this question, as it could mean the difference between getting hired or not. Here are a few helpful strategies for handling the “weakness” interview question:
A weakness doesn’t have to be negative
Think of a weakness as something that doesn’t come naturally to you, instead of a fault or completely negative characteristic. A weakness is something that simply isn’t a strength, and can be anything that requires extra preparation or attention. Instead of saying you get nervous before public speaking, say you set aside extra time to prepare before a presentation. Remember that a weakness doesn’t necessarily have to be bad, and it’s in your best interest to find a job that doesn’t play to your weaknesses.
Make it an asset to a future employer
Identify the areas that you need improvement in, and figure out how those areas could be framed as an asset to a new employer. Explain how willing and excited you are to develop certain skills and how this position seems to be the perfect opportunity to gain those new skills that you may currently be lacking.
Everyone has weaknesses, but not everyone is willing to admit it. Being honest with a recruiter about your weaknesses with will make you come across as humble and comfortable with yourself, qualities most employers are looking for in candidates. Recruiters will respect you for being able to honestly discuss how your weaknesses could impact your performance in this position, in a positive or negative way.
If you are interviewing for a public relations or communications position, it’s probably not in your best interest to express that you struggle most with public speaking or telephone skills. Share a weakness that would play an infrequent part of the job you are applying for, and would not be a deal-breaker for someone to be successful in that position. Read through the job description closely and make sure your answer doesn’t directly relate to any of the job requirements of the position you want.
Go for the humor
If all else fails and you absolutely cannot think of a weakness, the humorous answer could be your best bet. Saying your biggest weakness is chocolate or shopping for shoes can break the ice and make everyone laugh, but make sure the setting is right. In the right situation, it can make a recruiter laugh, but in the wrong situation, an employer could take the joke as you not being serious about wanting the job. Make sure it fits with the culture of the company you are applying with, and follow it up with a legitimate answer that relates to the company and the position.