In this episode, I show you five steps to answer questions - in a genuine way - about your weaknesses. These questions are usually not asked to find a weak spot to hold against you; rather, they are asked to get to know you better and to understand whether or not you are self-aware and open to improvement. In this episode, you will learn a simple, 5-step approach that can help you formulate an answer that sticks out and creates trust with the interviewer.
Hi everyone, and welcome back. Today, I'm going to talk about how to answer interview questions about your weaknesses.
Let's start by switching perspectives. Imagine you aren't the candidate; instead, you are the hiring manager conducting the interview. You've received a lot of applications and decided to interview five candidates. You have already read a lot about their achievements and career history, and now you want to get to know them in person. One of the questions you ask is, “Tell me about your greatest weakness.” You ask this question not because you want to find a weak spot that you can hold against them (after all, you want to fill this position without interviewing even more candidates so you can focus on all your other tasks); rather, you ask because you want to understand whether they are self-aware and willing to work to improve themselves.
Imagine that one of the five candidates hasn't thought about this question, gets nervous, tries to make something up or says something like, "I don't have any weakness." Or candidate tries to navigate away from the question. What would your judgment be? Does this person show self-awareness? Probably not.
Now imagine that three of the other candidates give very similar answers. They might say, "I'm a perfectionist" or "I can be impatient when I don't see progress." You wouldn't blame them, because they probably just followed someone's advice to choose a generic weakness that can be turned into a strength. But would you be impressed? Would you feel that you could connect to them? Did they build trust? Probably not.
Now imagine the 5th candidate tells you about a real weakness. It's not one that would make it difficult for them to do the job, but it's still something genuine. And when you ask, the candidate gives you an example of how they took responsibility to solve some problems that were initially caused by their weakness. And they describe what they learned from that situation and how they worked on improving themselves. So, this person gives an honest answer to an uncomfortable question, shows self-awareness and demonstrates self-improvement.
Which candidate would you want to have on your team? Most likely, you would pick the last one, right?
So, if you want to be part of the 20% who stick out when asked this question, my recommendation is to follow these five steps:
These are the five steps. Additionally, here are two recommendations for formulating your answers:
Let me close this episode by giving you a quick example from a candidate who applied for a software developer position. He told me that one of his improvement areas was that he sometimes found it challenging to get to the point, especially when explaining complicated technical topics. He told me that his audience understood him but gave him feedback that his explanations were long-winded. He became more and more aware of this and started observing his colleagues when they explained technical topics. One of his colleagues was particularly good at this, so he asked him for some coaching. He also took a course on presentation techniques and started actively asking people for feedback. He mentioned that he received a lot of positive responses for improving in this area and had an appropriate example to back this up. I thought this was a good and honest answer that showed self-awareness and self-improvement.
That’s all for today. Thank you for listening, and I hope this was helpful to you.