How to Answer the “Weaknesses” Interview Question

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

It is virtually a given that an interviewer will ask about your weaknesses in some form during a job interview. Some experts believe the “weaknesses” question is unfair. Regardless, it gets asked. Therefore, you need to have an effective plan to answer it. The good news is that with a strategy and practice, you can demonstrate poise and confidence in your response.

Understand the Hiring Manager’s Motives

To effectively answer any interview question, you need to understand the motives of the interviewer. Hiring managers ask about weaknesses for a couple key reasons. One is to watch for any red flags that could impact your performance. For instance, a candidate who indicates organisational skills as a weakness would not fit well in an office manager role.

The second motive is to gauge your poise under pressure. It is often easy to gauge a candidate’s interview preparation from the response.

Conduct a Weaknesses Inventory

Prior to the interview, conduct a weaknesses audit or inventory. Write down several weaknesses. Next, compare your weaknesses to the job posting. The goal is to identify one weakness that is distant from the position. This approach allows you to give a genuine answer without unintentionally conveying why you don’t fit the position well.

Practice Your Response

Have a friend ask you variations of the “weaknesses” question. Work on delivering a clear, concise response. Regardless of whether the hiring manager asks for your “greatest weakness” or “a weakness,” identify just one. The worst answers are “I have no weaknesses,” and “I’ve got a whole list to give you.” Sharing one true weakness helps you come across as genuine and human, but protects you against the risks of raising red flags.

For a position that requires emphasis on people skills and communication, it is safe to say “In the past, I have struggled with managing a to-do list because my jobs have centered on putting the customer first. Realising this, I developed my own system for scheduling and staying on top of tasks.” This answer reveals a genuine weakness, but not one that raises a red flag based on the job. Plus, it shows a commitment to learn and grow, which is one of the best results in a response to the “weaknesses” question.

Conclusions

A hiring manager asks about your weaknesses to see if he has any reasons for concern in hiring you. Preparing a response makes it easier to not give him any. Plus, you have a better chance of remaining poised during the interview and subtly identifying other abilities.

Do you need assistance to prepare for your next job interview? Contact the experienced Career Consultants at Résumés for Results to find out about how we can assist you to stand out with our Interview Coaching services.

To learn more about the writer, Jeanette Hannan [click here].