Every interviewee dreads being asked one interview question:
“Please tell me what are your weaknesses?”
How do you answer it effectively without sounding false or risking giving away a lack of a vital skill? You don’t want to give your prospective employer a reason not to hire you.
The main difficulty with this interview question is that you have just spent the first part of the interview selling yourself and trying to convince your interviewer that you are fantastic. Your instinct is to keep your faults well concealed.
But never evade an interview question – the interviewer will simply think you have something to hide. InterviewGOLD shows you how to answer it with confidence by taking the following advice and be prepared:
1. Prepare your interview answers in advance. Write down your key points and then structure it so it flows and give it a positive spin.
2. Research the role thoroughly to ensure you pick a weakness that it is not vital to the role. You could talk yourself out of a job if you say that you are a bit shy at an interview for a customer services role.
3. Talk about a work related skill to keep it relevant – not a hobby.
4. Avoid clichés to prevent sounding false or too rehearsed. See the InterviewGOLD Answer Builder module for some ideas.
5. Try to be as honest as possible when it comes to your choice of weakness and explain the little effect that it will have on the role. Everybody has weaknesses and so if you claim to not have one you are either lying or totally lacking in self awareness.
6. Be brief in your response. This gives you less scope to elaborate too much and say something that will put the interviewer off.
7. Talk about what you do to compensate for that weakness or any training you have taken to overcome it.
8. Remember to practice practice practice. Make sure you can tell the story naturally and give the interviewer confidence that your weakness will not affect your ability to do the job.
9. Always end your answer by talking about how you have or will be developing your skills in this area. This shows that you are aware of your weaknesses and the need to master them. You will be seen as a do-er, always a good characteristic.
So, you think you have successfully passed that tricky moment, but interviewers have now found another way to try and catch you off guard:
“Ok, thanks for that, now tell me about another weakness that you have.”
This is simply a repeat of the first question and the interviewer may expect that you haven’t spent time thinking about a second answer and so will trip yourself up.
You could give up another weakness, but this will look like you have tried to hide something earlier.
Despite my advice to always answer an interview question directly this is different – you HAVE answered it earlier. Don’t feel obliged to come up answers for the sake of it. My advice is to stop for a moment and act as if you are thinking hard. Then re-iterate your first weakness:
“That’s really my only weakness and as mentioned it is something I am overcoming with the training course I am undertaking. I am really enjoying it and have found that I actually have a great aptitude for….”
Remember what I said at the start of this article – you are there to sell yourself to the interviewer and so don’t give away any faults unnecessarily.
These questions are aimed at testing your self awareness as well as a range of other skills such as your analytical skills. You need to show that you have the capacity to analyse the job’s requirements and match yourself to those requirements. This is a very valuable skill. People are prone to nervously ramble when asked such a stressful question and so the interviewer is testing your confidence in your answers.
For ideas on how to answer this question as well as many of the toughest interview questions check out the InterviewGold Answer Builder module. There are over 2,300 interview questions, all with expert answers so you will know just what to say (and not to say) in any job interview.