Posted on 31/01/2019 by Breeanna Noske
Often the most dreaded element of a recruitment process is the job interview. And as Recruiters, we hold an ABUNDANCE of knowledge about interviewing – so why not share it?! We can share our trade secrets and detail why we ask certain questions, what answer we’re looking for, and how you can impress in an interview.
Thus commences a series of blogs: Smarter Answers
In today’s blog, we explore arguably the most DREADED interview question:
“What are your weaknesses?”
The most important point to remember is that your weakness should not render you incapable of performing the role you are interviewing for. If that were the case, you shouldn’t have applied.
TOP TIP: If you’re interviewing for a Saxophonist position, don’t state your weakness as an inability to play the saxophone!!
Let’s start with what NOT to say.
1. “I am a perfectionist. I work too hard and I’m TOO good at my job.”
2. “I struggle to say no.”
You might think this response demonstrates your willingness to help, but in reality it tells us that you cannot be assertive, you struggle to assess an appropriate workload and you tend to overwhelm yourself.
3. “I don’t have any.”
Simply not true. Everybody has both strong skill sets AND areas in which tasks don’t come as naturally. Personally? I pride myself on my writing capabilities but will admit that my mathematic abilities are not the strongest! Having strengths and weaknesses are synonymous with being a human being.
The ideal answer will demonstrate your ability to overcome your weaknesses
E.g. “I tend to get so excited and caught up in the project I am working on that I focus solely on my work. This means that I may forget to check in with my superior and provide progress updates. So, what I do to address this is set myself daily or weekly calendar reminders to send my Manager an update.”
Your actual weaknesses are not the point of the question (provided you play the saxophone!). Rather, interviewers are interested in an applicant’s ability to recognise and overcome their weaker factors.
TOP TIP: An interview question you will likely be asked at an Entrée Recruitment interview is “What is some constructive feedback you have received from a Manager?”
This question enables you to detail feedback that you have received AND ADDRESSED. You may have turned the feedback into a positive learning experience through additional study, taking on a mentor, or simply asking your manager for guidance.
TOP TIP: As always with interview question responses, the more precise the better.
Provide specific examples evidenced with real life situations. What was the feedback and what steps did you take to address it? And use evidence that is measurable. “After receiving the feedback in a performance review that my written communication skills were rated a 4 out of 5, I enrolled in a 2 day report writing seminar. The improvement in my written communication was recognised and I received a 5 out of 5 score in my next performance review.”
A very experienced and well-respected Recruiter I know once told me that she chooses to ask the ‘weaknesses’ question in the following form: “Why shouldn’t we hire you?” Again, the purpose of this question is for you to demonstrate your self-awareness. There may be factors that are causing your interviewer hesitations in offering you the role, such as you possessing less experience compared to other applicants, your only experience existing within non-related industries, or your lack of use of a particular product or software. This is your opportunity to overcome those concerns. “I have not used the MYOB software before. However I have used a differing software in each of my past roles and adapted to each quickly. In fact, I have progressed to being a Subject Matter Expert in two of these instances after having never used the programs before.”
You can use the ‘weaknesses’ question as an opportunity to highlight your strengths, or to demonstrate the factors that make you the IDEAL person for this role. For example: “My Excel knowledge was rather basic and whilst I knew enough for me to perform my job, I wanted to learn more. I took a 3 day course and I am now an Advanced level user of Microsoft Excel. These are skills and knowledge that I could bring to your organisation were I successful in obtaining this role.”
So now that you understand the purposes behind the question “What are your weaknesses?”, with a bit of preparation it shouldn’t seem as scary.