How to answer the weakness question in a job interview

Job Interview

Gillian Kelly, 

My school report cards always said, “Gillian talks too much and gets easily distracted”. My husband will tell you not much has changed, the only difference is now I’ve put in some systems so I still get my work done on time.

Once upon a time when I was in an interview, I would have tried to find something clever to distract the hirer away from my real weaknesses.

Some faux strength dressed up as a weakness.

But somewhere along the way I actually got comfortable in my skin and realised every weakness is really just the flip side of a strength.

I also realised hirers were waaaay smarter than I thought and had heard it all before. I wasn’t giving them enough credit, nor did I really understand the reason for their question.

The thing is, when a hirer asks about you to share a little about what your top weakness is, they are not really looking to catch you out and find a reason not to hire you.

They are actually looking to assess your personal insight and how you approach your weaknesses.

From your answer, they may glean

– How aware you are of your limitations
– What you do to manage those weaknesses
– If you are the type of person who takes accountability for your limitations
-If you have a growth mindset

Now, of course, if your answer highlights a weakness that will stop you from performing the job then it’s likely they will still rule you out – if you are a dolphin trainer who can’t swim it’s likely it will be a big fat no.

But if you answer the weakness question with openness and forethought your weakness may be a big plus.

So how do you answer the weakness question well? The key is to show insight and growth.

1. Identify a weakness and share a past story of how it has impacted you in the workplace.
2. Next, outline the actions you have since taken to address it. What you have done to overcome it. How you now manage it.
3. Finish by sharing a recent story of your success using these strategies in the workplace and the results.

Remember, the key is to show emotional intelligence, growth and performance accountability. Forget dressing up strengths to look like weaknesses and instead be genuine. Hirers will thank you.

After all, we are all human. Even hirers.

Gillian Kelly