What Are Your Weaknesses? Everyone’s favorite question! Not. Tell me about one of your weaknesses. So, first of all, let’s understand why they ask that question in the first place. “I know why they ask that Ken, they’re sadistic mumbojumbers that want to find out how bad I am at stuff”. No. They want to see how self-aware you are. Are you self-aware enough to have identified at least 3 things you need to work on? People who aren’t self-aware can be flagged as being potentially problematic in the workplace. If you’re not self-aware, how will you know what you need to improve? How will you know when you’re underperforming? How will you know when you’re upsetting team members? You think everything’s A-OK..but..well..you’re not self-aware and everything’s not A-OK. See how that works? Also – if they know you need assistance with something, they can maybe figure out a way to help you get there – bridge that gap – make you more effective. So, think about 5 things you need to work on and….this is important…the steps you intend to take to remedy those weaknesses. Don’t just blurt out a weakness then leave it hanging there. For example; You: “I’m bad at public speaking”. Interviewer: “Eh..ok”. You: “I can’t use Excel” Interviewer: “Uh, huh” You: “I get impatient when people don’t do things as well as I do them”. Interviewer: “Mmm..K” You know, I’ve met a few people over the years who managed to get on quite a roll once they got started talking about their weaknesses. Turned out to be the most impressive part of their interview. For all the wrong reasons of course, but nonetheless, for those people it seemed almost cathartic. Anyway, catharsis is not the objective. So, give them a weakness (not something that cannot be corrected with a little effort), and then tell them the steps you intend to take to overcome or mitigate said weakness. Example; Weakness “I’m not very good at public speaking. I tend to get nervous and feel I don’t communicate as well as I should. I understand there are parts of the work I do that require an ability to present to groups of people on occasion. So, I’ve been researching local Toastmasters chapters and will enroll in one of their courses to help me overcome some of the challenges I’ve been facing in that area”. Weakness identified, potential negative impact acknowledged, solution offered to help overcome weakness – easy. Weakness “I feel as though I could improve my Excel skills. I’ve only recently discovered how powerful the MS Excel application is and the ways in which it could help me become more efficient. I’ve looked into Intermediate Excel programs offered by my local college and I’ve put my name down for the next intake happening in 6 weeks time”. Weakness “Sometimes I can be a little bit impatient. I’m a driven professional and I know what needs to be done to meet my targets. If others aren’t as focused or as efficient as me, it can leave me frustrated. I’ve since started to try to understand the issue from the perspective of the other person. I find taking this approach is 100% more constructive in that it leads to positive dialogue and has given me the opportunity to mentor less experienced personnel. Although impatience isn’t a virtue, I’m learning that with a change in mindset and approach, I can actually add value in situations where I used to be left frustrated”. Take some time to think about this one. Run your choices by a family member or friend for feedback. Like most things connected with the interview process, preparation goes a long way. So, think about your strengths and weaknesses now, don’t leave it until it’s too late! Also – make sure you check out my other blog on “How To Answer Strengths”.