How to Respond to the Dreaded “Weakness” Question!

Do you start squirming and get uncomfortable just thinking about how you’re going to respond to the interview question, “Can you tell me about some of your weaknesses?” Most of my clients do!

Today, I want to dispel some myths for you about that question and teach you how to respond to it!

Myth #1 –“I should try to turn my weakness into a positive so I have a better chance of getting hired.”

This is not the approach I would suggest. I strongly believe in being as authentic and honest in your interview responses. You can come across as being insincere when you take this approach. You don’t want your response to appear as if you are trying to trick the interviewer.

Myth #2 – “I can’t possibly share my weaknesses with the interviewer. They will never hire me!” 

The biggest mistake you can make is to respond to the weakness question with “I don’t have any weaknesses.” Remember everyone has weaknesses. The person interviewing you, your boss, and your colleagues. They know it’s not possible to do everything right 100 percent of the time, and if you give the impression that you are someone who never makes mistakes, you will come across as being dishonest.

Now that we have dispelled some of the myths, how do you respond to this question?

  • The first thing is to really be honest about your weaknesses. Are you a procrastinator? Do you have a hard time saying no to someone? Are you overly critical of yourself? Write out each of your weaknesses and really take inventory of them. Now I want you to pick three weaknesses from that list that would not get in the way of you being able to do the job well that you’re being hired for.
  • Next, think about what you have done to improve in each of those three areas. This is the key to responding to this question. You want to show the interviewer that you may have weaknesses, but that you have been working to improve in these areas.  Write out specifically what you have done to improve.
  • Did you practice the skill, again and again, to get better at it?
  • Did you seek out advice from someone who is more experienced than you to understand how they have tried to improve themselves?
  • Have you taken classes to become more proficient in this area that needs improvement?

Now, that you have taken inventory and have identified ways to improve, listen to the way the question is being asked by the interviewer.

Sometimes interviewers will say, “Tell me about some of your weaknesses?” If they ask for some of your weaknesses, give them two weaknesses. If they ask, “Tell me about a weakness?” I would provide them with one weakness. But I always want you to have an extra example in your back pocket in case they ask for more.

When I teach my clients how to respond to the “What are your strengths question?” I urge them to provide supporting examples for each of their strengths and build them up in their response. I would not suggest the same for the weakness question. You want to answer the question, but you don’t want to build up your response by providing example after example.

Instead, simply answer the question and let them know how you are addressing your weakness and what you have been doing to improve in this area. However, you should be prepared that the interviewer may want you to elaborate and discuss in more detail your specific weaknesses. If you don’t have the ability to speak spontaneously about your weakness, the interviewer may feel that your response is over-rehearsed and may lose trust in you.

Remember, the key to answering a weakness question in any interview is to be honest and sincere!

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