Even though this is one of the most common interview questions, doesn’t it seem like it’s the one that people struggle with answering the most? So many people tend to think of a weakness as a hindrance or a disadvantage, even though they aren’t. Not everyone is going to be great at everything – everyone has a weakness – and your interviewer knows that. So why is it that this question is so difficult for some people to answer? What are some things to consider when being asked this question?
The number one reason that interviewers ask this question is to truly get to know the interviewee. The rest of the questions that they ask (usually regarding strengths and experience) cover “the good”, but they do not cover “the bad and the ugly”. They are not looking for a reason to deny you employment; they are simply trying to weigh the pros and cons of all of their options. They want to get to know the true you!
There are two things that I would encourage candidates to consider when preparing for their interview to guarantee a positive outcome when it comes time to discussing weaknesses:
- Be prepared. Although I can’t guarantee it, I’m 99.9% positive that this question is on every interview questionnaire that interviewees will come across, regardless of the organization. Take some time prior to the interview to prepare answers for the typical questions, this question included. I’ve spoken to people who are scheduled to go in for interviews and they laugh when I ask if they researched the typical questions asked for someone going into that sort of a position. Think of interviews as tests. You normally study for tests, right? The interviewer is testing your ability to answer the questions that they are asking in a way that makes sense and relates to what they are looking for in their future hire. Why wouldn’t you study for this test? Take some time to come up with the best possible answers for questions such as this one to guarantee a better outcome!
- Be honest. When most people answer questions like this during an interview, they think of the typical ‘turning a negative into a positive’. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book and interviewers can see right through it. Instead, why not simply tell the truth? If you struggle with something like public speaking or speaking in front of a group, be honest about it. Quite often, organizations have a professional development fund allotted to employees to take advantage of. Some enroll in college or university courses, some opt for weekly group meetings, such as Toastmasters, which assist you in improving your public speaking skills. Most weaknesses are improvable, so don’t be afraid to be honest!