Have you ever wrapped up an interview feeling like you have completely messed up after being asked about your strengths and weaknesses? Well, you are not alone.
Perhaps you steered off the track of professionalism, confessed a weakness that raised red flags or ticked the full checklist of “don’ts” during the interview. While you certainly cannot change the employer’s decision, you can better prepare yourself for your next interview and avoid making the same old slip-ups.
Nailing your job interview takes more than just having a killer resume, years of experience and a set of earnest answers. It is also about how you frame your responses, in a way that differentiates yourself from hundreds and thousands of applicants vying for the same role.
When faced with undeniably tricky topics like strength and weakness, being strategic is key. Unfortunately, more often than not, interviewees either stumble over their answers, come across as overly defensive or fall into a negative self-scrutiny.
Here are some sure-fire ways to positively answer weakness questions during an interview.
What interviewers want to know when they ask about your weakness during an interview
It will be good to know why an interviewer poses that dreaded question. Certainly, they are not out to nitpick. What they are trying to find out is whether:
- You are frank and truthful about your shortcomings
- You are well suited for the role
- You will go the extra mile to compensate for and tackle your weaknesses
- You are capable of handling adversities
The Asian community has a tendency to shy away from communicating personal strengths and weaknesses. However, communicating openly can benefit you in the long run, helping you recognise areas for improvement and to celebrate. So how exactly can you strike the right note?
1. Have your weaknesses well thought out beforehand
Take a good look at your past work experiences and identify instances where you’ve not done as well as you should. Consider thinking about areas of inefficiencies, unfamiliarity, and ineffectiveness. These areas should give you some insight into your possible weaknesses.
You should never fake your way through any strength and weakness question thinking that you have successfully dodged a bullet. Your ultimate goal is to remain as honest as possible while being tactical about the weakness you choose to share. Ideally, your weakness should not be:
- One that will directly affect your ability to perform in the role
“I find it hard to draw connections with strangers.”
If you are applying for a sales-related role, disclosing that you lack networking skills is probably the worst idea. You need to understand the attributes, qualities and traits that are vital to the job scope, and refrain from pinning them as your weakness. Doing so will only inadvertently create the greatest pitfall for yourself.
- One that is entirely candid and irrelevant
“My greatest weakness is not being able to control my diet.”
Whether you are attempting to evade the question or not, always remember that you should project a level of professionalism during an interview. By giving such answers, you not only show that you have no self-awareness but also make the employer think you do not take the position seriously.
- Having no weakness at all
“I don’t think I’ve any shortcomings.”
Nobody is perfect, and your employer understands that. Expressing that you have no weakness makes you appear overconfident. It creates a perception for the employer that you lack the ability to be self-critical.
Hence, it is worth putting some real thought into your answers and drafting responses before the interview.
2. Exhibit a good magnitude of self-awareness
As noted earlier, employers want to know whether you understand your shortcomings. For that reason, it is vital to exhibit a healthy level of self-awareness during the interview.
What you can do before the interview is to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your:
- Hard skills: These are skill sets that are easy to quantify. It can be those that you acquired from a particular job, such as writing and accounting.
- Soft skills: These skills encompass your traits such as teamwork, leadership and communication abilities. Think of soft skills as marketable traits that are best demonstrated with past experiences as examples. Work backwards from these experiences to identify your soft skills.
You do not need to go into detail here — the main point is to genuinely recognise your weakness.
3. Display an eagerness for self-improvement
Here comes the most critical part of the conversation. Sharing your kryptonite alone is not enough; it needs to be accompanied by a proactive plan of action of how you are going to either upskill or navigate through your shortcomings. This is where you can turn the seemingly negative question around and end it on a positive. Taking a course, increasing your scope of responsibilities, and following a mentorship plan are all sound ways to do so.
Ultimately, employers will be impressed by candidates who are continually seeking ways to grow and thrive. The next time you encounter questions about strengths and weaknesses, don’t be intimidated! Put your best foot forward, go forth and show all that you have to offer.