What are Your Weaknesses?
By: Michael R. Neece, CEO Interview Mastery
Interviewers frequently ask inane questions that do little to assess your ability to do a job. One of the most feared interview questions is the "weakness" question. It is also one of the most deficient questions asked by unskilled interviewers. Even though it is an ineffectual question, you still must be ready to respond effectively and professionally if you want to get the job offer.
Before your next interview, you must be prepared to manage the most 10 most frequently asked interview questions, especially the "weakness" question. This article gives you the strategy and a template so you can comfortably handle this interviewer question. Learn how to effectively handle the other 9 most often asked interview questions with InterviewMastery.com.
Converting Weakness To A Positive Is The Wrong Approach
Conventional advice recommends that you respond to the "weakness" question by stating a weakness that is really a positive or translating a weakness into a positive. For example: "I'm a workaholic, and I spend lots of hours at work ensuring I do my job to the best of my abilities." Interviewers see right through this technique, and it's never effective.
What Interviewers Want To Hear
When interviewers ask this question, they don't care what your weaknesses are. They care about how you handle this question and what your response indicates about you. They're looking for indications that you regularly assess your talents and are working to increase your skills.
Your response strategy to the "weakness" question is as follows:
- First, highlight your strengths for this position
- Second, highlight an area that you are working to improve upon
- Third, describe what you are doing to improve
- Fourth, describe how this new skill improves your value to the company
- Finally, ask a question.
Prepare Your Response By:
1. Identifying the new skills you just learned or plan to learn
2. Describing how this new skill relates to the job
Below is a fill-in-the-blank template for the "weakness" question to help you prepare and practice your response in your own words.
"While there are several strengths I bring to this position, including _____________ (insert 2 strengths), I am currently working to improve my knowledge of _____________ (insert new skill). I feel this is important because it allows me to deliver added results in the areas of ____________ (and here you just insert a couple of areas).
Example 1: Sales person learning finance
"While there are several strengths I bring to this position, including being a top performer in my previous position and possessing strong industry knowledge, I'm currently taking a class to improve my knowledge of business finance. I feel this is important because it allows me to directly relate products and services to customers' return-on-investment and to recommend department cost saving initiatives.
Would you like me to elaborate on either of these?"
Example 2: Customer service person learning Spanish
"While there are several strengths I bring to this position, including strong customer service and problem solving skills, I'm currently taking a class Spanish to improve my ability to communicate in another spoken language. I've found that English is not the first language for an increasing number of customers, and even with a little foreign language skills I can deliver greater service while enhancing the customers interaction with my company.”
Did you notice I asked a question at the end? Asking a question will make the interview more conversational and avoid it becoming an interrogation. The response strategy described here is presented in more detail in the Interview Mastery module titled "What are your weaknesses?"