It's the inevitable interview question we all dread: "tell me about your weaknesses". Who wants to tell a potential employer anything negative in an interview? It's like putting a nail in your own employment coffin, right? Not exactly. No employer expects you to be perfect. So you need to be honest about your flaws during an interview. The trick is to bring up small flaws that won't squash your chances of getting the job. Here are a few ways to answer interview questions about your weaknesses.
Be honest. When you're asked about your weaknesses during an interview, you can't avoid the question. You've got to say something, and lies about having no weaknesses are transparent and ridiculous. Your employer wants to know where you need some work. So be honest. But don't be too honest. Mention a few small weaknesses you have and then immediately follow your answer with how you are working to improve them. Here are some examples:
- My presentation skills aren't as strong as I'd like them to be. I am currently taking (night courses, a seminar, training) to improve them.
- I have always avoided the leadership role. But I'm taking a management course and working with a mentor to improve my skills and confidence as a leader. I hope to put these new skills to use at this new job.
Your new employer will be impressed that you admitted to some honest weaknesses. But he'll be doubly impressed by your initiative to improve yourself and lessen your weaknesses. This method of answering an interview weakness question has always been a home run with interviewers.
Think of a positive weakness. Another way to get full points on the weakness interview question is to think of a weakness that actually makes you look good. Come up with a trait that employers actually want in their employers and disguise it as a weakness. (Just beware of the clichéd answer. Some employers really despise these ‘my weakness is my strength' type of answers). Gauge your employer's response before trying these answers on him.
- I just won't settle for less than perfect, no matter how much overtime I have to put in.
- I always prefer to lead my colleagues so that the team reaches its highest potential.
- I have a hard time leaving right at 5:00. I'm usually the last one out because I'm so immersed in my projects.
You can see how these types of answers might make an interviewer roll his eyes. Only play the ‘weakness is my strength' card if you are sure it will go over well during an interview.
Be brief. Don't allow the focus of your job interview to be on your weaknesses. Give short, brief answers that don't require much clarification. Don't get into the big fiascos that happened because of your weakness at your last job. Give a short, simple answer and move on with your interview.