It’s the one question that most interviewees find difficult to answer: What are your weaknesses? Obviously, you don’t want to say something too terrible that it scares the panel but you do want to give an answer that sounds convincing and which you can show you’ve been working on.
We all have weaknesses. Even the best in the world have things they need or want to improve. Recognising these and doing something about them, however, is not only important for interviews it’s vital for developing your career and improving those job prospects.
How to Spot Weaknesses
The only way to do this is to be brutally honest. Unfortunately, this is something that many of us aren’t particularly good at. It helps to get some input from a colleague, manager or friend if you want a more objective account of your abilities. The main thing here is not to get defensive or upset that you’re not the perfect human being but to use these pointers to act as a launchpad for your future career development. Even weaknesses can be positive.
If you have an honest friend or family member you can sit down with and go through a list of issues, that’s all to the good. The problem is those close to you can be unwilling to offend. Times like yearly assessments at work are excellent occasions to ask your line manager how you are doing. If you are failing at interviews then getting feedback is essential too (even if you’re successful you should still be asking if you could have done anything better). The trick is to find ways to get feedback as much as you can.
Common weaknesses could include:
- You have difficulty taking the lead – important if you want to move on and become a manager.
- You often struggle getting your ideas across – you may need to do something to improve your communication skills.
- You have the tendency to switch from one task to another and not focus properly.
- Maybe you’re too self-effacing which means you don’t always seem as confident as you feel inside.
- It could be something as simple as not being suitably qualified in certain areas.
It’s a good idea, of course, to make a list of your weaknesses, at least the three or four most important. You might find that you have a short list, it may well be a lot longer. Don’t worry, these are generally all things that you can do something about.
Dealing with Weaknesses
And that’s the key. Identifying your weaknesses and being honest about everything is only half the battle. The big challenge is actually doing something about those problem areas.
That requires having a plan. If you lack experience or training, your solutions is going to be pretty obvious. But what if you lack something like confidence? Working with a line manager to improve this area can be beneficial. Trying different approaches or changing your attitude might well be the order of the day if you have trouble focusing on particular tasks at work. You may want to take on a mentor or business coach who can help you work through things, particularly if you’re highly ambitious.