Dreaded Interview Question No. 3: ‘What weaknesses or flaws do you have?’

second interviewThis is one interview question which is so universally dreaded that it has become a bit of a cliché. It is very hard to give an honest and sincere answer to this question – and yet interviewers still insist on asking it! Why is this?

How you answer the ‘weaknesses’ question can be extremely telling. By asking this the interviewer is putting you in a difficult situation and observing how you react. A great candidate is always looking for ways to improve themselves so being aware of your weaknesses can be a good thing. Here is the jobs24 guide to negotiating the dreaded ‘weaknesses’ question without putting off your new employer.

Firstly, it is important to select your weakness carefully. (Unless you’re a saint you will probably have more than one to choose from.) Try and avoid picking a weakness that relates directly to anything required in the job specification. For example, if ‘excellent time keeping’ is listed as a desirable trait then don’t admit to being late a lot. It is also important to pick a weakness which can be fixed and, even better, pick a weakness that you’re already trying to improve upon. Above all it’s important to pick a real weakness! Don’t fake out and say ‘I always work too hard’ or ‘I’m too much of a perfectionist.’ The interviewer will see right through it and will not thank you for trying to pull the wool over their eyes.

Once you’ve picked your weakness outline it briefly and then go on to explain why you struggle with this issue. Once you’ve done this, show the interviewer that you’re aware that it’s a problem and demonstrate how you are trying to improve yourself.

Here’s an example where delegation is the chosen weakness:

  1. I sometimes have difficulty delegating my workload to my colleagues.
  2. I struggle with this because I know if I do it my way I will be 100% happy with the result.
  3. I’m aware however, that delegation is important and doing everything alone can slow down the process.
  4. I’ve been really focusing on trying to delegate more and have been on a manager course which has helped me learn how to pass on pieces of work in a clear and professional manner. I have found that my colleagues don’t mind being given a bit of extra work and I think we’re working more efficiently as a team because of my improved delegation skills.

This answer shows that you are capable of self-analysis and, most importantly, self-improvement which is bound to impress your interviewer.

So even though the ‘weaknesses’ question can make you cringe with cliché it is an interview favourite for a reason. Take it seriously, be honest and you’ll be starting your new job before you know it.

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