Weaknesses? What Weaknesses?!

Confidence may be the key to a successful interview, but if you are too confident to admit your weaknesses when asked by a hiring manager, the chances of you landing the job are slim.  We all have weaknesses, no matter your level of education, experience, skills, etc.  No one is perfect, and it is important to be self-aware enough to confront and admit areas that you need to improve on. What it comes down to is that we all have individual strengths and weaknesses that make us who we are, and as professionals, we need to learn how to embrace them and play them to our advantage during the interview process.

So what do you do when you are plagued with the question, “Tell me about your weaknesses?” Before you answer, it’s important to understand WHY you are being asked this question. Employers are looking for three main things:

– Are you aware of your weaknesses?

– How does it impact your work and others around you?

– What steps are you taking to improve upon them?

Another thing to note with this tricky question is that you should never avoid answering it. Saying that you don’t believe you have a weakness will not miraculously make the interviewer think you are perfect, but can instead come off as arrogant, unware, or both. Believe it or not, employers are extremely intrigued to hear your response and will be even more disappointed if you give a generic answer or no answer at all. An employer wants to know that you are aware of your imperfections and that you are in fact trying to learn from them and better yourself as a professional. Personal development is a highly favorable characteristic in a successful candidate.

Now, it is important you still portray your weaknesses in a way that makes the hiring manager still optimistic about your potential.  Don’t just write yourself off as a candidate by revealing a bunch of dealbreakers with no further explanation.  It is important to show awareness of a weakness, and to follow up with your plan on addressing that weakness.  Here is an example of an answer that shows awareness of the weakness, displays the impact it has on the individual and others and outlines how that candidate can work to improve upon it.

Awareness: “I often times have a challenging time delegating work to my fellow peers and teammates, and as a result, I can pile an excessive workload onto my plate.”

Impact: “I realize that not delegating to my team doesn’t benefit my colleagues, as it does not challenge or motivate them to take on additional responsibility, nor does it allow them to learn or work on new projects. It also can have a detrimental effect on my own personal time management, thus resulting in me to work long hours and potentially exhausting me.”

Improvement: “A priority of mine though, especially since I’d like to eventually get into a management type role, is to make a conscious effort to let my team support me in my work and have confidence that they will accomplish these tasks and hold themselves liable for performing at the highest level. I will continue to hold myself to a high standard of work excellence and will try to impact as many projects as I can, but I will be sure to not only hold myself accountable, but also my peers accountable on future collaborative efforts.”

This response identifies a weakness for the interviewer and shows them how the candidate is looking to better themselves in the process. The moral of this story is to stop seeing your weaknesses as negative marks to hide from an interviewer; instead, acknowledge them, embrace them and learn from them. And remember, this is just one of many difficult questions that you will be faced with in an interview. Are you fully equipped to answer them all?

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