Tackling the 'What are your weaknesses?' Googly at Interviews

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Tackling the 'What are your weaknesses?' Googly at Interviews

3 min read

In the intricate dance of a job interview, one particular question often sends candidates into a tailspin: "What are your weaknesses?" This query strikes fear into the hearts of many, seemingly demanding that vulnerabilities be exposed in a situation where strengths are expected to be showcased. However, understanding how to address this question effectively can turn it from a stumbling block into an opportunity to demonstrate self-awareness, growth mindset, and professionalism.

Employers utilize the dreaded "weakness" question to understand how candidates perceive themselves and approach challenges. But here is the secret: they don't expect flawless responses. In fact, answering poorly about weakness in the interview can be a bigger red flag than admitting imperfection. So, how do you answer this question thoughtfully and professionally? Here is a guide to turn this potential pitfall into a chance to shine.

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The Purpose Behind the Question

Before delving into how to tackle this question, it is crucial to understand why interviewers ask it in the first place. Contrary to popular belief, they are not out to trip you up or expose your flaws. Instead, they are seeking insights into your self-awareness, honesty, and ability to reflect on personal development.

By asking about your weaknesses, interviewers aim to gauge several key attributes:

Self-awareness: Can you accurately identify areas where you can improve?

Adaptability: Are you open to feedback and willing to develop new skills?

Problem-solving skills: How do you address and overcome challenges?

Professionalism: How do you handle difficult questions or situations?

Choosing the ‘Right’ Weakness

Focus on areas for improvement: Don't pick something crippling to the role. Instead, choose to discuss a weakness you are actively working on overcoming.

Highlight transferable skills: Even when discussing a weakness, showcase strengths.

Can your time management struggles be framed as a focus on prioritizing tasks effectively?

Stay relevant: Don't reveal weaknesses that would significantly hinder your ability to do the job.

Strategies for Answering

Now that we understand the purpose behind the question and also how to choose the right weakness, let's explore some effective strategies for answering it: 

1. Be Honest, but Strategic

While honesty is essential, you don't need to divulge your deepest insecurities. Instead, focus on weaknesses that are relevant to the job at hand and demonstrate your commitment to personal growth. For example, if you are applying for a project management role, you might mention that you sometimes struggle with delegating tasks but have been actively working on improving your delegation skills through mentorship and training. 

2. Show Self-awareness and Reflection

Acknowledge your weaknesses with confidence and demonstrate that you have taken the time to reflect on them. Discuss specific instances where your weaknesses have impacted your work and what steps you've taken to address them. This shows that you are not only aware of your shortcomings but also proactive in seeking solutions.

3. Represent a Strength as a Weakness

While it may seem counterintuitive, framing a strength as a weakness can demonstrate self-awareness and humility. For instance, admitting to spending an enormous amount of time studying a problem may seem like a weakness, but it underscores a commitment to thoroughness and quality in problem-solving. By acknowledging this tendency, you are demonstrating your awareness of the need for balance and efficiency in your approach, ensuring that tasks are completed meticulously and effectively.

4. Highlight Your Growth Mindset

Employers value candidates who are committed to continuous improvement. Use this question as an opportunity to showcase your growth mindset by discussing how you have turned your weaknesses into strengths over time. Share examples of how you have overcome challenges and the lessons you have learned along the way.

5. Connect Your Weaknesses to the Job

If you happen to have overcome a weakness that now makes you better qualified for the job you're applying for, discuss that journey of self-growth. It will demonstrate how you are actively working to mitigate them. This shows that you understand the demands of the role and are committed to being an effective team member.

6. End on a Positive Note

After discussing your weaknesses, pivot to emphasize your strengths and qualifications for the position. Reinforce your enthusiasm for the role and your eagerness to contribute to the team's success. Ending on a positive note leaves a lasting impression and reinforces your candidacy.

In addition to demonstrating your weakness in the interview, learn how to answer the question “What are your greatest strengths” here: 

Example Answers

1. Communication Skills

"I have realized that at times, I can be overly meticulous in my communication, providing excessive details that may overwhelm others. However, I have actively been working on refining my communication style by focusing on clarity and conciseness. I have found that seeking feedback from colleagues and participating in workshops on effective communication has been instrumental in my improvement."

2. Delegation

"In the past, I have struggled with delegation, often feeling the need to oversee every aspect of a project to ensure its success. However, I have come to understand that effective delegation is key to productivity and team development. To address this, I have been actively practicing delegation by identifying tasks that can be entrusted to others based on their strengths and providing clear instructions and support throughout the process."

3. Public Speaking

"While I have always been confident in my abilities, public speaking has been an area where I have felt some apprehension. To overcome this, I have taken proactive steps such as enrolling in public speaking courses and seeking opportunities to present in team meetings. Each experience has helped me build confidence and improve my ability to articulate ideas effectively."

4. Time Management

"I tend to be overly optimistic about the time needed to complete tasks, which has occasionally led to instances of working under pressure to meet deadlines. Recognizing the importance of effective time management, I have adopted strategies such as prioritizing tasks, breaking projects into smaller milestones, and utilizing time-tracking tools. These methods have significantly improved my efficiency and ability to deliver projects on time."

By following these tips, you can turn the question "What are your weaknesses?" into a chance to showcase your self-awareness, dedication, and willingness to learn. Remember to be honest, reflective, and forward-thinking in your response, and you will leave a positive impression on your interviewer. After all, even the strongest superheroes have their kryptonite – it's all about how you handle it.

Read here: How To Navigate Multiple Interviews Prior To Winning That Job

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