While you’re hoping your strengths and undeniable suave will be enough to win over the interviewer, not knowing how to talk about your weaknesses has the potential to undo any good work just as you’re preparing for the deal clinching handshake. We have the solution!
We all have them. Whether it’s an inability to talk to large groups or a penchant for stealing stationary, the holes in our professional skill set are usually better left unsaid, especially when giving an answer in a job interview.
Exposing your imperfections with a job on the line seems like nothing more than an exercise in self-sabotage. All isn’t lost though as a cautiously contemplated answer could strengthen your rapport with the interviewer and hopefully boost your chances of starting work on Monday.
Discuss work-appropriate weaknesses
Though your fondness for Caramac and Barry Manilow records are no doubt inexcusable flaws, it’s highly unlikely that your potential employer to-be would be interested in these intimate indiscretions. When prompted to divulge our closely concealed inadequacies, it can be all too easy to take a jokingly personal approach and sidestep the professional context you suddenly find yourself immersed in. It’s important to remember that this is a job interview and not an online dating profile so the interviewer is going to be much more concerned with your teamwork skills than that of your inability to play the tuba.
Refer to irrelevant skills
Revealing your professional shortcomings in a job interview goes against every natural fibre in the body as it appears a sure-fire way to destroy any chance of getting hired. Well fret not noble candidate, for not every failing in your portfolio of expertise will be relevant to the job you’re applying to. For example, a night security guard is unlikely to need strong group presentation skills, while Nicki Minaj’s unfortunate tone deafness doesn’t prevent her from flicking the auto turn switch. Knowing which of your weaknesses would be deemed agreeably irrelevant will require some research into the company / job role, but should allow you to skilfully bypass this potential banana skin and hurdle any trailing shoe laces.
Don’t take the ‘secret strength’ route
A classic piece of advice by career coaches, job blogs and so called ‘experts’ is to cunningly present a weakness that is in fact a strength wearing a fake moustache and top hat. These words of wisdom are now old hand in the recruitment game and employers have more than wised up to this method of avoiding the question. In simpler times, disguising your greatest weakness as an ‘over attention to detail’ or ‘a tendency to be a perfectionist’ was a more than an apt way presenting yourself as a flawless candidate, but this is now proving to be counter-productive. Employers don’t expect to be hiring robots and are looking for staff who understand their failings and have shown some desire to combat them. There’s no such thing as perfect, just an artists’ impression.
When talking about your greatest weakness, the best answers are made up of two parts. The first is to identify the weakness and the second is to show how you are making steps to rectify it. Everyone loves a trier and showing that you are being proactive in trying to better yourself will only reflect well on your character and professional outlook. Admittedly, some skills work more favourably to this method than others and describing how you overcame your fear of talking to large groups by picturing them all in their underwear probably won’t go down too well. On the other hand, discussing how a time management course has allowed you to improve your once questionable organisational skills may be deemed a little more endearing and a great indicator of your desire for personal growth.
Shining the spotlight on the reasons NOT to hire you goes against every piece of interview advice ever written, however when the situation calls for it, it’s best to have a few carefully considered ‘flaws’ ready. Employers appreciate that there’s no such thing as the ‘perfect candidate,’ but someone who can combine human fallibility with the drive to improve isn’t too far away from the pedestal.