Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re asked that one loaded question: “What are your weaknesses?” While most applicants are prepared to tout their strengths, highlighting areas for improvement might feel daunting.
In this article, we’ll explore strategies to answer this question with confidence and authenticity. We’ll also provide examples of how to turn potential negatives into positives, and offer resources to help you prepare for your interview.
Analyzing Common Mistakes
Many candidates make the mistake of oversharing or presenting obvious strengths as weaknesses when answering this question. Interviewers are looking for insight into how you approach challenges and how you handle negative feedback.
To avoid these common mistakes, focus on selecting a weakness that is relevant to the job and framing it in a positive light. For example, if you’re applying for a position that requires public speaking, you could discuss how you’re working on improving your presentation skills through practice and training classes.
List of Common Weaknesses and How to Answer
Here is a list of weaknesses to help you reflect on areas you could improve:
- Time management
- Public speaking
- Attention to detail
When selecting a weakness, consider if it is crucial for the job. Avoid discussing weaknesses that could impact your ability to do the job well. For example, if you’re applying for an accounting position, you should avoid mentioning issues with arithmetic.
Once you’ve selected a weakness, use the STAR technique to frame your response. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Begin by describing a specific Situation you encountered, outline the Task at hand, describe the Actions you took to address the weakness and the Result you achieved.
Reasons Why Interviewers Ask About Weaknesses
Interviewers ask about weaknesses to see how you handle challenges and to gain insights into your self-awareness and commitment to personal growth. They want to see your ability to acknowledge areas of improvement and take steps to address them.
When answering this question, weigh the pros and cons of providing a genuine response versus presenting a weakness that could also be viewed as a strength. For example, if you’re applying for a leadership position, you could discuss how you’re working to delegate more effectively while also leading by example.
Here’s an example of a successful response using the STAR technique:
Situation: “In my previous role, I struggled with time management and found it difficult to hit deadlines.”
Task: “To address the issue, I implemented a new time management system and created a detailed calendar to prioritize my workload.”
Action: “I made a conscious effort to focus on the most important tasks and set realistic goals for myself each week. I also took time to reflect each day on how I could improve moving forward.”
Result: “After a few months, I effectively improved my time management skills and started meeting all deadlines. My team also noticed my positive attitude towards the project which helped to create an environment of efficiency and collaboration.”
Practice answering this question in a mock interview with a friend or family member. This will help you build confidence and discover any potential issues, such as speaking too quickly or not providing enough detail in your response.
Try to come up with different scenarios and practice answering them in a positive and reflective way. You can also record yourself answering the question to see how you can improve your delivery or Body language.
Targeted Advice for Specific Industries
In different industries, employers may have different expectations about potential weaknesses and how to address them.
For example, in healthcare, attention to detail and empathy may be essential. Steering your response towards your ability to work on specific areas related to the position may help in presenting a strong case.
Ask about expectations in your industry during the interview process or reach out to people who work in the industry and prepared to Learn from their experience.
By following these tips and examples, you’ll be better prepared to present your weaknesses, present them in a positive light and convince the interviewer about your ability to overcome challenges and develop your skills. Always remember to focus on what you have been doing, how you are working to improve and always consider company expectations. With practice and preparation, you can ace that “What are your weaknesses?” question and walk away from your interview feeling confident and empowered.