What are your weaknesses?

What are your weaknesses?

In this video, I’m going to walk you through three simple steps so you are prepared to answer the question, “What are your weaknesses?” because this is one of the most common interview questions and you need to be prepared for it.

If you are ready to knock this question out of the park, give this video a thumbs up and lets dive right in.

First things first, your weakness is not a personality trait like impatience and it’s not a strength in disguise like being detail oriented.

Simply put, weaknesses are skills that can be improved on.  If you are impatient, you will always be impatient, but if you are a slow typist, you can always improve through repetition.  Do you see the difference?

So when you tell interviewers that impatience is your weakness, they know that if they hired you, you will always be impatient.  Because impatience is a personality trait and it’s much harder to fix.

When using a strength in disguise as a weakness like being detail oriented, you are basically telling employers that you put in more time on things than is necessary, thus taking more time and costing more money so you can be perfect.  And if you know anything about businesses, they like to run efficiently and avoid spending extra time and money on things that don’t matter.

So if you can’t use a use a personality trait nor a strength, what can you say as a weakness?

For the sake of argument, a weakness is defined as an area where you are lacking in a specific skill and one that can be easily improved on.

Step 1 of answering the weakness question

So in step 1 of your answer, instead of telling interviewers that you are impatient, consider saying something like,

 “I’m a firm project manager and work on projects with tight customer deadlines.  Things must be done quickly, efficiently and on-time or we lose business.  When we have tight deadlines, I might appear impatient or demanding to my team members when I insist on frequent updates, but it’s to everyone’s benefit that I am.  My co-workers would tell you that I am impatient, but only on critical projects. ”

The key to using a personality trait is to isolate it and describe when the context in which the weakness occurs.

Isolating the weakness in this way shows the interviewer that you have a flexible personality and work ethic.  It says that you can be stern when you need too, and then back off when the pressure is not on.  This way you are showing interviewers that you are not always this way.

As with any weakness, you want to show how you are improving it.

Step 2: of answering your weakness

So in step 2 of answering the weakness question, you would tell them how you are improving, perhaps something like this:

 “Instead of running around to everyone’s desk and harassing them for updates, I’ve learned that I might be doing more harm than good.  So now I schedule be-weekly status update meetings where we bring everyone together to collaborate on project timelines and this has proved to be significantly more effective and efficient than chasing everyone for status updates.”

Here is how you can build your response to the weakness question.

Step 1:  Think about your real weaknesses and concerns you have about yourself.  (don’t share this with interviewers.)

Grab a piece of paper and draw two columns.  In one column, write down areas where you feel you are weak or need improvement on, both personal and professionally.

In step 2, identify your weaknesses that only occur in certain situations.  Just I did in my project manager example.

Now think about which weaknesses occur in a professional setting.  Something that does not happen all the time, just in certain situations.

Final step of answering your weaknesses

And lastly in step 3; choose one current and one past weakness, one you have already fixed and develop a story for each story.

The key is to isolate your weaknesses and use ones that only occur in certain situations and then frame it to tell your story.

Here is what this will look like broken down into 3 steps:

  “In certain situations where… (insert your situation), I have a tendency to… (insert what you do, which is a description of your weakness and not the weakness itself).

In cases like this, this had made me appear … (insert and label the actual weakness, but you are not saying that you are, just that you appear)S

Sample weakness answer

As a result, I’ve learned being (insert how this weakness makes you behave)  is not productive nor does it create a healthy work environment and instead I’ve started doing… (insert what you did to overcome it) which has resulted in… (insert the benefit of overcoming the weakness) and being (insert weakness again) is no longer an issue for me. 

That’s all there is to it and you are not ready to go out on your next interview and nail “What are your weaknesses?”

In this example I used an isolated personality trait.  You can just as easily use this same weakness formula with a skill.

That’s all I have for you today.  If you like this video, give it a thumbs up, subscribe to my channel and  share it with a friend.

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