How to answer: What are your weaknesses

In this video, I’m going to teach you three steps on how to prepare for an answer the “What are your weaknesses?” interview question, so that you can not only make it to the next round of interviews, but also ideally land the job offer.

Now, before we go in depth into what a good weakness is, we need to first understand what a good weakness is not. So, there are two things that your weakness is not. Your weakness is not a personality trait and secondly, your weakness is not a strength in disguise.

So, firstly, your weaknesses are not your personality traits. In the job interview world, weaknesses are things that can be improved on. They’re things that can be fixed or corrected.

Your personality traits on the other hand are natural inherent traits within you that really nobody can fix unless you fix that yourself or change that yourself.

So, when you say something like, “I’m impatient” as a weakness that tells your employer that they’re going to have an employee who’s impatient, pretty much all the time. It’s not something that anybody can fix and change, it’s just part of who you are. Which is why using a personality trait as a weakness is not a good idea.

And secondly, your weakness is not a strength in disguise. I’ve seen a lot of people use this example and try to get away with saying things like, “I work too hard” as being a weakness or “I’m a perfectionist.” And it’s pretty transparent and clear to the recruiter and hiring manager what you’re trying to do when you use these. It’s almost like a cop-out for really explaining what your genuine weakness is. And as a result, I would highly recommend you not use those as examples of weaknesses.

So, now you know what a weakness is not, let’s talk about what a weakness is. A weakness is an issue or concern that occurs in a certain context that you have improved and continue to improve on.

So, for example, instead of saying “I’m impatient,” you may say something like,

“In situations where there’s a deadline to be met, I tend to want things to be done quickly and efficiently. And in these situations, I’ve tended to finish my tasks quickly and consistently asked for status updates from my co-workers. This has made me appear to be impatient in front of others.”

So, in this situation, they’re describing the context when the weakness occurs. So, that’s what you want to do. You want to make sure that it’s within a specific context or situation so that it doesn’t appear that it’s something that you do on a consistent basis. It’s just when this type of situation happens, this is the weakness that tends to come up within me.

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Then, you would say what you did and are doing to improve on this weakness. So, you would say,

“As a result, I’ve learned to be cognizant of this fact and no longer try to constantly update myself on what my coworkers are up to as often. Instead, I’ve implemented weekly meetings where everyone comes to the table and with their updates, and that has led to greater efficiency for everyone involved.”

So, what can you do to figure out your weaknesses? Step 1 is to brainstorm a list of your current and past weaknesses or concerns that you have about yourself. These are private lists, so nobody needs to see them.

Literally take out a sheet of paper divide them into two columns and start coming up with things that you feel are certain areas for improvement within yourself. Just list them.

Now step 2 is to highlight the weaknesses that tend to occur only in a certain context or situation. Generally, this is going to be the majority of the weaknesses that you list out, but think of the ones that you know can be applied in a professional setting. It’s not something that happens all the time, but when the situation comes up at work you tend to be a certain way. So, that’s what you want to think of.

And finally step 3; pick one current and one past weakness and develop a story for each. So, remember these weaknesses only occur when certain situations happen. So, you want to think of the situation and how you’re going to frame it in order to develop your story.

And as a bonus, I’m including some fill in the blank lines that you can use to help you develop your story. So, here are some helpful lines to get you started.

The first one is;

“In situations where… (And then this is where you would insert your context or situation), I have tended to or tend to… (And this is where you exhibit this weakness, not the weakness itself; so you are kind of describing what you tend to do in this situation). This has made me appear… (And then, this is where you would insert your weakness. So, in our case, it was). This has made me appear impatient in front of others (but you are again not saying that you are an impatient person). As a result, I’ve learned to be cognizant of this fact and no longer… (Insert the way you exhibit this weakness).”

So, again, it will go back to the second line that you filled in.

Instead, I now… (Insert your solution that resolves this weakness). And finally, this has resulted in… (Insert your successful results, so it could be a quantifiable result or it could just be an improved efficiency or time savings in some area; whatever it may be).”

So, now, you know how to answer the “What are your weaknesses?” interview question.

 How to answer interview weakness question

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