Yep it’s that classic question that makes everyone think “what is the point of this?” As if I am genuinely going to start picking out my weaknesses in an interview for a job that I really want!
Well, there is a reason why the interviewer asks this question and if you really think about it, it’s actually quite a useful question to ask to get to know you a little better. The point isn’t to try and catch you out, the point is to see if you can spot weaknesses in your skill set and how you deal with them and aim to strengthen them.
There are a few ways in which the interviewer can ask the question to get the same response. For example, the straight forward approach “What’s your biggest weakness?”, a more subtle approach “Have you set yourself any development goals?”, and a more interesting approach “If I spoke to your team or someone who knew you, what would they say is your biggest flaw?”
There are a few different approaches to answering this question. Below are the three ways in which we feel are good ways to answer the question and one way that you shouldn't, which we will leave for you to figure out...
Demonstrating self improvement
We believe that by mentioning a weakness you had and how you went about improving it is a great way to answer this particular question. So for example, you could mention that you struggled with confidence, so you decided to grab the bull by the horns and take yourself out of your comfort zone to help overcome your confidence issues by attending networking events.
Demonstrating awareness of a weakness and how you overcame it shows that you are committed to learning and self improvement, proving you are determined to succeed in your career and improve.
Turning a negative into a positive
This may work in some interviews and may not in others. By using what would usually be thought of as a strength, for example, “I’m too much of a perfectionist, so I am never truly happy with my work and always want to improve” can sometimes look good and that your standard of work is very high. However, it may also sound a bit cheesy and the interviewer may not buy it!
The key to this is judging whether the interviewer would buy it or not. If you can’t quite tell then it’s best to steer clear of this approach as it could just fall flat.
Discuss less critical skills
This is a very good way of answering the question, as it meets what the interviewer is looking for and doesn’t do any damage. The key to this approach is to make sure you know the job specification inside out and know what skills and experience the interviewer is looking for. That way you can mention a weakness that isn’t essential to the role.
Revealing too much
The question can occasionally act as a bit of a banana skin for some candidates, not because that’s the aim of the question, but because of the way in which the candidate answers it. Revealing a huge weakness, which could genuinely impact your role and the business if you got the job, is not a great look and it’s important you don’t accidentally mention it. The main cause for this happening is nerves, so the best thing to do to prevent this is to be fully prepared and have an answer ready.
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