We’ve all been there. We’ve breezed through the job interview, and then we get the dreaded question; “Tell us about your weaknesses.”
A tricky question. You want to choose an authentic answer. But you can’t hurt your candidacy. Just like politicians, briefly respond to the sticky question, then pivot back to your major strengths.
Choose how you’ll handle the ‘weaknesses’ job interview question.
Address the Obvious
For example, “You note that you’d prefer a candidate who speaks Spanish, and I do not speak Spanish.” Then, you could continue with an example of your sensitivity to Hispanic culture, or involvement in that community.
Reframe as a Positive
For example, a client of Portland career counselor Vicki Lind was very serious about deadlines. As a project manager, she frequently checked on her team’s progress. In her interview she admitted, “Some individuals have taken this to mean that I do not trust them. I have learned to minimize this reaction by telling everyone at the start that these check-ins are part of standard procedure. Then they do not take it personally.”
Draw on Context
A perceived weakness in one position might be a strength in another. Acknowledge that perception, then explain why you think it’s a strength in this new opportunity. For example, “In the past, employers have interpreted my consulting with my team members as having a negative impact on the speed of my decision making. I have chosen to apply to your company because of your reputation for inclusive decision-making.”
Tell how you identified the weakness, what action you took, and how it became a strength. “I used to avoid public speaking like the flu. That changed last year when I started Toastmasters. Now, I am proud to say that I speak at public meetings several times a month and that my presentations get rave reviews.”
Know Your Answer and How You’ll Say It
Practice in front of people to make a strong presentation of your strengths. Every job seeker who has rehearsed with Vicki, either in an individual session or in a small-group interview clinic, has visibly grown in competence and confidence.
How have you turned the weakness question into an opportunity to demonstrate your strengths?
(Editor’s note: This post has been repurposed from Portland Career Counselor Vicki Lind’s book “Finding a Job Worth Having”).
Contact M!ke directly at http://pivotalwriting.com
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Image used under Creative Commons from Flickr user Bhope34