Have you been to an interview recently? Were you asked what your strengths and weaknesses are? Did you feel you answered the ‘weakness’ question well? Or is it something you would like to work on?

I came across an article in Forbes by Liz Ryan discussing this exact topic. When I am preparing for an interview this is one of the questions that I struggle with, along with ‘how do you deal with conflict’. It seems however that most of us do!

A few notes to help conquer this question:

  • Firstly, everyone has a weakness. If, when asked, you answer ‘you have none’ or ‘can’t think of one’ as well as coming across as arrogant/unprepared it shows a lack of self-awareness which will be a red-flag to an employer. Therefore, it’s best to have an answer up your sleeve!
  • Choose a weakness that is less relevant to the role you are applying for, for example, don’t highlight one of the ‘essential skills’ in the job description as a weakness; this will instantly go against you.
  • Along a similar lines to above, choose an ‘easy’ weakness that will not disadvantage your selection for the role, for example, ‘as an upcoming graduate this is the first time I will be in a role such as this. However, my previous experience working in retail, volunteering and participating in team sports will enable me to bring a lot of other experiences to the role’.
  • Be honest in your answer, but don’t labour the point!
  • Turn your ‘weakness’ answer into a success story, for example, ‘I used to have issues with time management. However, I was determined to overcome it so I now make lists, timelines etc. and constantly check to make sure I’m on track. I’ve now been told its one of my strengths’.
  • Make sure your answer is business appropriate – no drinking or partying examples! If you are new to the workforce some ‘personal’ weakness examples can be used, i.e. being part of a sports team could be connected to building relationships in a work team. However, where you can, keep to work illustrations.
  • Lastly, consider declaring /discussing what employers could perceive as weaknesses, i.e. if your degree doesn’t directly relate to the role you are applying for, you have a disability, English is your second language etc. You need to work out the risk of being open and upfront and dispelling any potential perceived draw-backs with the risk of not discussing it, enabling employers to make inaccurate assumptions.

Lots of food for thought!

Good luck for your next interview.  You’ll be great!

 

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