Friday, January 18, 2013

What are Your Weaknesses? Tips for Answering this Tough Interview Question

What is your greatest weakness?

If your anything like me, you hear the word weakness and you run for the hills! The word weakness is loaded. It can throw you off if you are not expecting or preparing for this type of question in an interview.

The key to answering this question concisely and in a positive manner is to be prepared. The following are tips that can help you prepare.

*Some of these tips are based on a previous blog post on Career Chatter from 2010, but I thought they were worth mentioning again!

What employers are looking for with this question:

Are you Self-aware?

Are you aware of areas that you need to improve upon? Having this awareness shows employers that you will continually seek improvement in your job.

Are you actively thinking about how to improve?

Are you taking steps to make yourself better? This shows that you are intentional about improvement.

Will your weakness jeopardize your job performance?

Addressing the weakness question:

1) Think of weaknesses as being an area that you need to improve upon or are working on now.

2) Chooses a weakness that is not primary function of the job.

3) Do not choose “fake” weaknesses, such as being a perfectionist or expecting too much of others. Employers are looking for you to be honest about your weaknesses and self-awareness.

4) Choosing a skill as a weakness can be better than a personality trait. Skills are something you can improve, were as personality does not show much change.

5) Avoid giving a laundry list of weaknesses. In an interview you want to spend as much time highlighting positive experiences and assets you can bring to the organization.

6) Focus on the changes you have made to overcome or improve upon your weakness; provide a tangible example.

Using the STAR method to answer this question:

Situation: Describe the situation. State your weakness simply and factually.

*A good way to do this: I have a tendency to (weakness) when (under what circumstances).

Task: Talk about the challenge or task.

Action: Explain the action(s) you are taking. What are you doing to improve?

Result: Talk about the positive results. What have you learned from your weakness or how have you worked to improve?

Most importantly, do not get hung up on a question about your weakness. Taking time to reflect and prepare will help you be more confident when addressing this question in an interview!

If you have an interview coming up, set up an appointment for a Practice Interview with one of our Career Counselors!

Career Services Center

Holthusen Hall, First Floor 

Phone: (414) 288-7423

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