The HR managers and interviewers should have an ability to uncover your weaknesses, without inquiring about them. That’s what we get paid for after all–for telling the strengths and weaknesses of each job candidate, and for deciding who is the best choice for the job.
So why do we ask about your weaknesses?
First of all, not every interviewer is a skilled HR worker, or a professional recruiter. If you interview for a job in a small company, or if you are lucky to meet in your interview an inexperienced person, not every interview question will make sense.
The average interviewers actually ask the question either to really learn about your weaknesses (as they can’t identify them without your help), or because they found it on a list of most common interview questions, and want to create some pressure in an interview.
And why do the skilled recruiters ask the question?
I believe that I can tell the strengths and weaknesses of a person after talking with them for five minutes, sometimes even less (in terms of their soft skills, intelligence, and also some professional capacities). But I may still use the question about weaknesses, becasue it helps me to:
- See the level of your confidence, and humility. Good candidate for the job should know their weaknesses, and they should not struggle admitting them. Knowing our weaknesses is actually the first step to improving on them….
- To see your attitude to work, and personal development, whether you see your weakness as a problem, or as an opportunity to improve and become a better professional in your field.
Prepare your answer upfront
To prepare your answer, you should think about your strengths, and weaknesses, from both personal and professional perspective. What have you struggled with in your past jobs, in the school, in your family life? Was it communication, diligence, IT, empathy, attention to detail?
If you can not identify your weaknesses (or if you feel like it would be great to get an opinion from another person), ask a good friend, or your colleague, and ask them to be honest with you. Everyone of us has some weaknesses, and you should end up at least with three or four things on the list.
Pick weaknesses that are not essential for the job you try to get
Once you have the list of weaknesses, you should pick one or two that are not essential for the job, and would not jeopardize your chances in an interview.
For example, if you interview for a job in sales, customer service, or education, you can say that you are over-friendly to customers (clients/students), or that you struggle with managing other people. The first weakness may be actually considered a strength by some recruiters, while the second one is not essential for good teacher or sales representative (you do not need to manage anyone in the job).
If you interview for a position in IT, you can say that you are not assertive, or that your social skills could be better. Since you will deal mostly with computers, and your communication will be in form of emails, these weaknesses are not essential, and would not kill your chances of getting a job.
Follow up with your efforts to improve
Everyone has some weaknesses. What the skilled interviewers want to hear in a great answer is that you plan to improve on your weaknesses, that you realize you can still become a better worker and a better person. Nobody is perfect, but it is the desire to improve every day that distinguishes average worker from a great one.
Now you should be ready to answer the question about weaknesses. You can find more in-depth analysis of common interview questions in our In Detail section, or you can read shorter analysis with sample answers in our viral article about 15 most common interview questions.
Thank you for reading, we at InterviewPenguin.com wish you good luck in your interview!