Picture this. You’re sitting in an interview getting bombarded with questions about who you are, your experience, the assets you would bring to the table, etc. All seems to be going well until the interview question that everyone knows is coming but hopes and prays doesn’t, astutely knocks on your door: “What is your biggest weakness?” Can you hear the sound of a bomb slowly drifting away in the distance and then the loud boom when it crashes? That is the mental picture you have of the turn your interview just took. Been there, done that.
But your answer to this foreboding question could be beneficial to you. I know what you’re thinking. “There is no way I am exposing my downfalls to the person that I want to give me a job. How could that be of any help to me?” Let me explain.
If you think that interviewers are asking you this question as a test, well, consider yourself correct. They get the typical cliché answer of a weakness turned into a strength. Don’t think they don’t notice you gave them the opposite of what they asked for. They do. Interviewers also get vague responses that don’t answer the question at all, along with people that say they have no weaknesses. Ouch.
But there are two keys to answering this question the right way and turning your probabilities of failure on its head.
1. Be honest. Maybe not brutally honest, but just be honest. If you have a problem with accepting change, say it. If you struggle with communicating effectively or taking initiative, let it be known.
I can see the wheels turning in your mind. “There’s no way I will do that.” Maybe, “That’ll guarantee I won’t get the job.” Keep reading. Remember I mentioned a second part?
2. Take that weakness you just exposed and explain how you are improving it. Don’t morph it into a strength that is paper thin and unsubstantial. Give examples of practices, activities and mentalities that you have absorbed to ameliorate yourself professionally. These are what employers want to hear from their candidates. You have a weakness and you are progressively making a change to overcome it.
What you might call weaknesses, we at The Devine Group like to consider opportunities. Knowledge of your internal competencies can take you from a mid-level performer to what employers look for in every facet of their business – an “A” player. With a competency-based assessment, you can pinpoint your under developed behaviors, evolve them and switch them from your list of downfalls into your bank of strengths. If you hear the question in an interview and the sound of a bomb plummeting is resonating in the background, stop it before it connects.