Are you familiar with the job weakness interview question? How many times have you had to answer it in your lifetime? If you are like most people, you have had to answer a question about your personal and professional weaknesses at least a few times. If you feel your answer was less than satisfactory or painted you in a negative light, it’s time to do some preparing for this question before you put on the suit and tie and shine up those shoes for your next interview.
Are You Awake?
Some interviewers enjoy throwing out a question about your weaknesses when you are least expecting it. They want to see how you respond, if you can think quickly on your feet, as well as how compelling your answer turns out to be. This is why they will often throw it in there with questions that most job seekers answer on autopilot, such as your previous job experiences. You will be answering easy questions and chit-chatting along when suddenly you are thrown for a loop with this dreaded question.
You can show your interviewer that you are very aware of your surroundings and are able to think fast and give appealing replies on the spot if you answer the job interview weakness question without stalling and in an effective manner. You could actually bypass other candidates who may have more experience or who have a better educational background than you, just by impressing the interviewer with your answer to this one question!
The Worst Approaches
You may assume that the outdated advice of twisting a good personality feature into a minor weakness is the best approach to this dreaded question, but this could actually backfire in your face and give the opposite impression than what you want to give. For instance, saying that you are a perfectionist as if it is a negative thing could send a message to your interviewer that you will try not to be a perfectionist and might turn in sloppy work.
A weakness is a weakness is a weakness. Your interviewer has heard all types of spins when it come to this question, and they will notice anything that lacks substance and honestly.
You also want to avoid giving weaknesses that are irrelevant to the position you are applying for. If you want to fill a position as a computer engineer, you shouldn’t state that your biggest weakness is not knowing how to use most copy machines. Copy machine knowledge may be essential to secretary position, but has little to do with the job of computer engineer.
Also, don’t go into the interview trying to paint yourself as a perfect person. There isn’t a perfect person walking the earth, and your interviewer will be instantly turned off if you try to convince them otherwise. Never state that you have no flaws, especially if you are applying for a lower level position!
The Best Approach
So, if nothing that you have heard before works, what will work? The best strategies for mastering the job weakness interview question apply equally to all positions, in all industries, and with all types of interviewers.
You want to slant your answer according to specific information that you find out about the company in question through research ahead of time. You should be researching every company that invites you in for an interview anyway, so this is just something that can be looked for along the way. You are looking for specific information about how the company works that will enable you to answer this question to their liking.
For example, a company that tends to be extremely democratic in policy and operation might like the fact that you had a difficult time adjusting to the lack of structure in a previous job opportunity.
Notice how in that example the weakness given could actually be understood as a positive for the particular company you now want to work for. This is your ultimate goal! You want to note a real weakness in another area or your life or in a previous position which could be taken as a positive in this new company’s environment. If you can let this new employer get the impression that you have dealt with this weakness and have take action to improve yourself in that area, they will see that you are an honest person who is serious about their reputation and life. That is quite impressive compared to the answers most others give!
Another way to approach this is to tell a story about your weakness in a funny way. You want to get them smiling and laughing, but remember it must be directly related to the position you want to fill. The interviewer is human and will respond to a joke favorably as long as it is delivered in the proper tone.
In some cases you may be asked to elaborate about your answer, so it helps to be sincere and give an honest answer. Many interviewers can detect when you are lying or making something up off the top of your head. If they get the sense you are being direct and honest they will have great respect for you.
Keep your answers as brief as possible. When you start going into more elaborate details you open the door to some awkward questions that may not present you in a favorable light. Just keep it short and simple and try to move the interview forward from there as quickly as possible.
Finally, just sit back and try to relax. Take a deep breath if you have to, but make sure to appear calm and collected when the question is asked. Remember, you are dealing with a human who has nothing against you. They will notice that you are calm and not panicked.
This is one of the most stressful questions of an interview and everyone dreads having to answer it, but if you are prepared ahead of time with proper research and rehearsal at home, you will get through it with flying colors!