This question is a great way to gauge how you react under pressure whilst establishing which traits might not necessarily fit with the culture at the company.
First, let’s see what answers you want to avoid with this question:
Hmm… although a job interview is a means of showcasing your skills and expertise to the hiring manager to prove why you would be the ideal candidate for the position, they have asked you this question to test your answer. You don’t want to come across as a know-it-all or too smug. Even if your weakness is miniscule, it is better to say this, rather than “I am perfect in every way”.
“I am too much of a perfectionist”
“I work too hard”
These are not weaknesses; these are more like strengths disguised as weaknesses. Of course, employers want people who work hard and are dedicated to their job, so it doesn’t actually give the interview any real insight into your weaknesses.
Remember this is a job interview, so try not to say anything that could jeopardise your application, such as
“I am really bad a time keeping, so am often running late most mornings”
“I struggle with managing people and they don’t seem to have any respect for me”
So, you are applying for a job as a Team Manager and learning you can’t manage people is not the ideal scenario.
Your tardiness may come across as lazy and unorganised and employers wouldn’t want someone who turns up late and flustered every day when the rest of the team are already well underway with their productive working day.
A real weakness makes you sounds more genuine. Think about a time you have had an issue, concern or come across a problem that needs fixing, then how you overcame this issue.
By making it relevant to the job you are interviewing for will show you are self-aware and it will portray a true analysis on how you can develop and grow with the available position:
“I find public speaking a nervous situation to be in, so I can sometimes lose my nerve when giving a presentation”
“I decided to practice my presentations in front of my partner so I could feel more confident when it came to the real thing. They gave me feedback and encouragement to strive, do my best and not to worry. Every presentation gets a little easier each time now.”
“I have done some research into methodologies on public speaking, so I want to start practising these approaches so I can overcome any fears and nerves I still experience when I give a presentation”
This proves to the hiring manager that you have learnt from your weakness and are overcoming the obstacles along the way, and you are still willing to work on the situation, so you can eventually turn your weakness into a strength!
If you are stuck, think about where can this job take you; what qualifications or experience can you gain in order to achieve your 5 year plan. Discuss this with the hiring manager:
“I have experience as Project Manager and software development but my experience within the Agile space is minimal, which is an area I want to develop in. So I would want to learn more about this so I can eventually become a certified Agile Tester.”
By committing to developing and improving your weakness shows determination and allows the hiring manager to see a little insight into your work ethic. Remember, nobody is perfect, so you will have something you can improve on. Prepare yourself for this question in your interview and be aware that (sometimes) you can be asked for more than one weakness. Good luck!
What examples have you given in your interview when asked about your weaknesses?