How to talk about weaknesses during an interview?
Each of us has a weakness. So how should you talk about it during an interview?
Weaknesses and the interview
Depending on the circumstances, your interview will be conducted by the company’s owner or most likely a recruiter to get to know whether you are suitable for the role. During the meeting, you will have to answer questions about your qualifications, skills, interests, strengths and weaknesses, among others.
So why is it that we are asked about our weaknesses almost every time? Is it possible that revealing them could cause the employer to resign from employing us? Nothing could be further from the truth, so read on to find out why. And remember, if you are going to an interview, you must know what answer you are going to give when this question is raised.
First, you should ask yourself if you are aware of your faults. Do you know what you should work on to grow and be a better employee than before? Being aware of your weaknesses will help you choose the right position for yourself. If you thrive in a group of people and prefer to work as a part of a team, you can apply for jobs that suit your preferences.
When you are asked about your weaknesses during an interview, it does not mean that your employer is not going to hire you upon learning what they are. The question is designed to find out if you are self-aware, able to analyse your actions and remedy shortfalls if needed.
Talking about weaknesses in an interview
The key is to talk about your weaknesses with confidence. We would advise against speaking of shortfalls that may affect your performance or make you feel uncomfortable in the environment you are planning to work in.
Don’t mention the weaknesses that:
- have no direct connection with the position you are applying for
- may impact your potential job
- are critical to perform the job successfully
The right strategy?
One strategy is to turn your weaknesses into advantages. If you are applying for the position of an accountant, you may disclose that you dislike working in a group. But be mindful, even accountants don’t always work alone, especially in big corporations. You can take a different approach and mention only weaknesses that would not affect your job. If for example, you are applying for a night shift admitting that you are not a morning person is suitable for the circumstances.
However, the above strategies are not always effective as they may be perceived as dishonest or put across that you do not understand why this question is being asked. It is much better to find a weakness and talk about what things did you put in place to overcome it. If answering emails will be part of your job, you can mention that you used to find it overwhelming, so you have learned the Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle to prioritise them more effectively. Or if English is not your first language, mention it and advise that you’re looking forward to working with a team to improve it. If your English is not good enough, your interview will probably be cut short anyway. If it’s good enough, then you have a great example to show you are eager to improve your weakness.
Avoid clichés like stating that you are a workaholic. First, it is we believe the most overused weakness statement of all times. Secondly, these days, allowing yourself to be overworked is rarely appreciated as it indicates poor time management. And effective time management is required in every job role these days.