How to Handle That Pesky “Weaknesses” Question

What Not To Say In Response

During the interview process, you’re invariably going to be asked, “Can you tell me about some of your weaknesses?” or some variation of it. How you answer this question could very well determine whether you get another interview, or the job at all. Here are some tips on how to deal with this commonly asked, and feared, question.

  1. Be honest. Your interviewer isn’t asking for no reason. They legitimately want to know if you acknowledge your own weaknesses, and what you’re doing or plan to do about them, and how they might effect your job.
  2. Don’t be too honest. You didn’t really think I was telling you to tell them, “I’m perpetually late, have a tendency to forget tasks, and lose paperwork on my desk. Oh yea…and I take two hour lunches. When do I start?” Pick one or two small things you have issues with, generalize them so they don’t sound too bad, and most importantly…
  3. Address how you compensate for those weaknesses. If you have trouble keeping track of meetings, tell them you now put EVERYTHING in Outlook or in a planner. You set reminders for yourself on your phone for every little thing you do. Say something like, “I tend to be very detail oriented, but sometimes that causes me to lose focus on the big picture. But I’ve started taking time out of each day to step back and remind myself.” This tells your employer that you’re not arrogant, you recognize your weaknesses, and you take actions to correct them.
  4. Don’t get cute. I’ve heard stories about people using “chocolate” as a weakness in an interview. You might have a soft spot for it, but don’t you dare say this in an interview. For every person that will find this amusing, there’s another who will resent you for ignoring the question. You might as well tell them, “When I’m asked difficult questions, I avoid it like the plague.” Instant interview killer.
  5. Always Give An Answer. This may seem simple,  but don’t think for a few moments and say, “I honestly can’t think of any weaknesses.” This will tell your employer you’re either a kiss up, a liar, or you don’t admit to your own mistakes/faults. Regardless, they likely won’t appreciate it. If you really are struggling to come up with something, give the detail oriented answer in #3. It’s a good answer, it’s a common problem for workers, and you’ll at least have an answer.
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About Jason Willis
Jason graduated from the University of Central Florida in the fall of 2011 with a B.S.B.A. in Finance. He currently works at The Newport Group as an Investment Analyst on the Asset & Liability Management Team working with Non Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans. In his spare time he continues to give back to AKPsi by assisting with the CFAC and NX Chapter at UCF. He also currently operates his own blog entitled Professional Hedging, and is also preparing to acquire his Series 7 and 66 Certifications.

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