We’ve all done it; prepped for an interview with help from friends and family. You’ve printed out sheets of information about the company and the managers and memorized facts and mottos. The week of the interview you feel great and you can positively answer every practice question thrown at you. Since you have no idea which questions will get thrown your way, you’ve studied for them all. While answering ‘why you want to work for the company’ was easy, there’s one question that you may stumble on; ‘what are your biggest weaknesses?’
Yes, you do in fact have weaknesses. Saying you have no weaknesses is the wrong answer to this question. Employers don’t want to hear how perfect you are. They really want to know what you believe your weaknesses are. Since it is asked so frequently in job interviews, employers can usually tell when you’re lying or making something up. So be as sincere as possible and take a few moments to think of your actual weaknesses. Most people will start to get nervous around this question, but here are a few ways to answer one of the trickiest question with grace and confidence.
Don’t tell them that you work hard and stay late because you care about the success of the company and caring too much is your weakness. Instead answer with, ‘I have always been very critical of my own work and I take pride in everything I put my name on. I try very hard to produce work to the best of my abilities and while this improves my job performance, it can seem extreme to others’. Being critical on yourself is one of the easiest ways to answer this question. It is something you can improve on, which is what companies love to hear. Self-improvement is a huge plus!
Recent College Grad
Another great answer, especially for recent college graduates, is the no experience weakness. Use your recently graduate status and entry-level work experience as your weakness. Tell an employer that while you lack experience in this field, you are certain you can gain valuable training through your quick learning curve. Remind your interviewer that because you have never worked in this field before, this will only enhance your training at the company since you don’t have any pre-conceived notions of how the job should be done.
This is a weakness that everyone is familiar with these days. Technology is a huge part of everyone’s life. Ask anyone where they keep their phone throughout the day and the answer will most likely be ‘right next to me on my desk’ or ‘in my back pocket’. Everyone has their phone on them. Use this to your advantage! Explain to an employer that your weakness is checking your phone too many times throughout the day. The trick is to spin it. Explain that you check your work email on your phone as frequently as your personal email. Tell them that you check your work emails even at home and on the weekends so you always have to have your phone on you.
Now time for the real spinning. Once you’ve explained your weakness, tell your interviewer that you’re trying to detach yourself from technology to spend more time in ‘the here and now’ with friends and family. Your friends and family are very important to you so the employer will know that you aren’t lying to them. This will let an employer know how genuine you are and how dedicated to creating real connections with people you are becoming.
You may be a social butterfly with your friends but you’re probably a little more shy when you’re surrounded by strangers. Use this to your advantage in an interview. Being shy may actually be a huge weakness for you but your employer doesn’t need to hear all of the gory details of how shy you really are. Keep this explanation short. Give them just enough of an answer so they know that being shy is a weakness of yours but that it isn’t detrimental to getting this job. Instead of saying, ‘I am very shy and I don’t speak in front of large audiences’, tell them you have trouble speaking in front of people. Short, sweet, and to the point. Again, this is the kind of improvement weakness that employers love to hear.