3 powerful ways to answer the weaknesses question

  Imagine this: you’re in the hot seat in an interview, and things are going well. The hiring manager loves your resume, you’ve killed it on every question they’ve thrown at you – and there have even been a few laughs. Then the interviewer looks you dead in the eye and asks, ‘So, what would…

 

Imagine this: you’re in the hot seat in an interview, and things are going well. The hiring manager loves your resume, you’ve killed it on every question they’ve thrown at you – and there have even been a few laughs. Then the interviewer looks you dead in the eye and asks, ‘So, what would you say is your biggest weakness?’

Suddenly, you’re sweating – because the last thing you want to do in an interview is trot out a laundry list of your failings in the workplace, right? But don’t stress.

The good news is, there are three powerful ways to approach this question and come out on top. Here’s how.

#1. Bring up a weakness you’ve successfully overcome

For example, say you’re a naturally quiet or timid person, but you’re going for a manager position where you’ll be overseeing junior staff – something you’ve grappled with in the past. Your trump card, though, is that you’ve been working on this weakness outside of the workplace, which shows dedication and self-awareness. Your response might be:

“I have found it hard in the past to provide constructive criticism to staff I’m managing, as I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings – but I’ve been working on my interpersonal and communication skills with a careers coach, and I’m now much more confident in my abilities to offer feedback in a way that’s effective and productive for everyone.”

#2. Opt for a weakness you can actively work on

If you’re inexperienced, switching careers or a recent graduate, those are perfectly acceptable reasons to use as part of your response to the ‘what is your weakness’ question. You might answer with something like this:

“I’ve just graduated / am moving into hospitality from another industry / [insert reason] so I’m not familiar with the POS system you use. However, I’m a very quick learner and a technically savvy person in general, so I’m confident that with a bit of training and practice, I could pick it up and hit the ground running in no time.”

#3. Choose a weakness you’re able to work around

Perhaps you’re not a patient person and you struggle in customer-facing roles, but you excel in supervisory or strategic roles. Being completely honest about this, especially if you’ve had success in leadership roles before, is something you can put a positive spin on, like this:

“I’ve worked for many years in customer service type roles, and I’ve come to accept that it’s just not the right fit for me because I’m quite impatient and want to be using my other, stronger skills. In my last role, I was promoted to several management roles because I thrive when leading a team, coming up with business strategy and trouble-shooting issues. I’m challenged by those things and it’s why I’m so excited at the prospect of interviewing for this role, and letting you know the valuable skills and experience I’d be bringing to the table.”

To wrap up…

It’s a fact: we all hate the ‘What’s your greatest weakness?’ question in a job interview.

But by planning ahead for your answer, and thinking about how you’ve overcome a difficult situation, are working on a skill or trait, or have learned a big career lesson, you can answer in a way that’ll impress any employer – and won’t jettison your chances of getting the job.

Good luck!

Want more career advice?

Job interviews can be very intimidating without preparation. Lucky you found us here at Frontline! Your confidence will hit a new high when our experienced teams help you with interview preparation, provide expert career advice and support you in your transition, all for free. Let’s find you the perfect role today!

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