“…and what are your weaknesses?”
You’re well prepared. You knew that this question was going to come up sooner or later. But you’re still unsure about what to do.
Of course, as most of us know, you can’t just start reeling off a list of your shortcomings in case you come across as damaged goods and endanger your chances of getting the job.
So what do you do?
The most common solution is to use your weaknesses to highlight your strengths, using a bit of creativity and a hint of fake modesty. The most frequent – and most widely abused – answers are things like “I’m a workaholic and I work all the hours under the sun to make sure I never miss a deadline – sometimes I even sacrifice my free time and weekends to work away from the office. I should try to switch off a bit!” or “I’m extremely demanding with myself. I don’t allow myself to make mistakes and I can’t rest until my work is done, has been checked several times and approved. I need to learn to be more tolerant”.
As you can see, these aren’t the most credible stories, especially to the experienced ears of HR experts.
So how are you supposed to come across as sincere without messing up the interview by revealing too many personal weaknesses?
Recruiting experts suggest that you are genuine and focus on being accurate rather than being positive. If you do have weaknesses, don’t be afraid to mention them – just don’t go into too much detail and then bring the conversation around to a list of your positive qualities.
Show that you are self-aware and work hard to present yourself to the recruiter as a professional who is capable of examining the facts objectively while maintaining a clear, honest and to-the-point outlook on the big picture.
By doing this, you’ll boost your strengths even more: if you are able to honestly talk about a weakness, you will appear sincere when discussing a strength.
In fact, your chances of getting hired could increase by 30% if you manage to convey this impression – and your prospects for a more profitable future career path will receive a boost too.
Another way of answering any questions about your weaknesses is to use them as an opportunity to demonstrate proactivity.
Don’t be afraid to list a few areas where you’re not yet 100% confident and explain to the recruiter how you intend to address them – or, even better, how you already are addressing them. For example, if you haven’t yet mastered a particular calculation programme, explain that you are aware of this and that you are studying a course in order to get up to speed quickly. Likewise, if your French is getting rusty and requires attention, explain that you are watching French films twice a week to get back on top of the grammar.
List a few things you’d like to continue working on in order to improve them, concentrate on your existing strengths. Try to come across as objective, self-aware, attentive to detail, capable of analysing situations and quick to address any questions or concerns .
So, it’s a case of not blowing your own trumpet too much, but not concentrating solely on the areas where you need to improve. The overall objective has to be to provide honest answers, show your energy, remain in control and ensure that the impression you’re giving off is an excellent one.