CONTRACT TRAINING PROFESSIONAL SUCCESS
Interview Series Part I
Many people roll their eyes when they get asked this question (hopefully in their heads and not actually in front of the interviewer). Why do interviewers continue to ask this question?
There are two reasons. First, how you answer the question is just as important as your answer to the question. Are you able to admit a weakness of your personality? Second, they want to be made aware of the real you. They know that every candidate has their own strengths and weaknesses and they want to know right off the bat of any flaws that you may have.
Job interviews are all about presenting yourself in the best light possible, which is what makes this a tricky question to answer. When answering this question, it’s important to carefully consider how you respond. The answer you give can determine whether you will be a liability to the company you’re interviewing with.
You don’t want to respond in a way that sends red flags to the interviewer or that casts doubt on your ability to fulfill the role.
What the interviewer really wants to know
- Are there any problem areas with you that we need to know about?
- If we were to ask a former boss or colleague this question about you, what would they say?
- If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be?
You don’t want to lie and say that you don’t have any weaknesses or you’ll just sound arrogant. You also don’t want to blurt out what everybody, from your next-door neighbor to your dry cleaner, thinks is wrong with you. So then, what’s the best approach to take?
Choose a real weakness that is not critical to the role
It’s okay to admit to a flaw or quirk that you have if it doesn’t directly pertain to the role in which you are applying for.
If you are applying for a Training Manager position, do not say that you aren’t a people person or that you work better independently. Chances are, the position requires a lot of interaction with others as well as managing them, and your interview will likely end abruptly (you should also reconsider applying for the role).
To help you figure out what you don’t want to discuss, it’s important that you read the job description very carefully. This will help you get a better understanding of what the role entails and what problem areas you should avoid bringing up.
Highlight how you are trying to overcome your weakness
Going back to the Training Manager example, you may want to say something like “Sometimes when I’m giving feedback, I’ve been told that I come across as blunt, which may not always be well received by others and is not my intention. I’m learning to slow down and think before I say something and make sure that I offer constructive feedback that others can find value in.”
This is a solid response because you’ve given an honest weakness but then also turned it around by showing how you are trying to improve. In other words, turn a negative into a positive and tailor it to what the interviewer is looking for.
Tips to remember
- Thinking about this question ahead of time and formulating a well thought out response will show the interviewer that you are taking the interview and role seriously.
- Take the question seriously. Don’t try to give a funny answer like “My greatest weakness is this question.” The hiring manager will not be amused.
- Be honest. Hiring managers aren’t dumb and will see right through a made-up response. Honesty is the best way to go if you want to build trust and establish a professional relationship.
- Stay positive. Remember to turn your weakness into something positive by sharing how you’re working on developing that trait or skill.
- Be specific. Giving a vague answer won’t help you stand out as a candidate. Tailoring your response to your experiences are more convincing and show your commitment to growing as a professional.