Everything seems to be going well, and then HR or the manager suddenly asks: “Tell me about your weaknesses.” This can lead to a stupor, because at the interview it is customary to praise yourself, otherwise who wants to hire an employee with shortcomings. What’s the catch here?
There is no need to panic. This is a standard question in an interview to find a job abroad. There are several ways to answer it and stay in the win.
Why is the employer asking this question?
When asking a question about positive and negative qualities, the recruiting manager does not expect the candidate to repeat a story about himself or list too personal character traits (for example, I am kind, sympathetic, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke).
- find out how the applicant behaves in a non-standard situation;
- determine how adequately the candidate evaluates himself and the results of his work;
- understand whether he fits the position he is applying for and the corporate culture of the company.
In an interview, you may be asked to describe yourself in different ways:
- “Tell me about your positive and negative qualities.”
- “Name three of your positive and three negative qualities.”
- “Name your strengths and weaknesses.”
- “What qualities of yours can help or hinder doing this or that job?”.
- “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
You need to be prepared for any development of events. Therefore, think over at least 3 of your pluses and 3 minuses in advance, compare them with the requirements of the employer. The recommendations below will help you with this.
He wants to get to know you better
For most of the interview, you tell how good, professional, competent and responsible you are. But it is important for the employer to know about your weaknesses in order to understand how critical they are and whether you can eventually work together.
He wants to see how you rate yourself.
The ability to see your shortcomings and work on them is very important and speaks of your adequacy. It is much more pleasant to deal with a person who is capable of self-criticism and growth than with someone who is sure that he is good in every way and does not need to grow. For the same reasons, you may be asked to talk about professional failures that have befallen you in the past.
How to respond to a question about weaknesses
There are several strategies.
1. Be as honest as possible
That is, to list all the main areas of growth directly and bluntly. This option is appropriate if it is important for you that the employer gets a complete picture of you before making a choice. And if your weaknesses do not relate to the basic skills that are required for the desired position, that is, when the lack of competencies and skills is not too critical.
For example, it is better for a translator not to say that he has a poor command of the required language pair. As well as the nanny that she does not get along well with children. True, it would not be too logical and honest to get a job in such a position, but that’s another question.
But you can say that you do not have any specific experience. Or, for example, you do not own one of the programs that the company uses. Or you lack some “flexible” skills: leadership skills, communication skills, the ability to make quick decisions, and so on. Again, if for the employer they are not included in the list of fundamentally important requirements.
Here are a couple more examples:
- “I don’t always manage to keep discipline in the classroom. Several times I came across very difficult and conflicting students and unpleasant situations arose.
- “I’ve done book illustration, and I don’t have much experience creating illustrations for websites and media yet.”
- “I am not an expert in communication. Sometimes it’s not easy for me to settle a conflict or negotiate with a person.”
On the one hand, this approach is very risky: you can blurt out too much and bury yourself in the interview. On the other hand, there is a chance that the employer, on the contrary, will appreciate your honesty and directness, and you, with all your minuses, will seem to him a more solid and trustworthy candidate.
2. Filter information
This strategy is suitable for those who really need a job and who are not ready to immediately reveal all their cards to the employer. Or for those who consider themselves an ideal candidate and simply do not know how to answer the question about weaknesses.
In such cases, you can list a couple of disadvantages that are relevant to you, but choose the most “safe” and minor ones. Perhaps even those that are more likely to be merits.
For example, to say that you are a perfectionist and in your desire to bring the result to perfection, sometimes go too far and become too demanding of the rest of the team. Or admit that you are very meticulous and ask a lot of questions.
Here are some options for inspiration:
- “I lack the confidence to defend my position.”
- “It’s hard for me to take my mind off work and keep a balance.”
- “I should improve my business writing skills, this is not my favorite pastime.”
- “I’m afraid to speak in public, including at planning meetings and meetings.”
- “I get irritable if co-workers act irresponsibly and miss deadlines.”
- “I don’t have much leadership skills yet” (provided that you are not taken to a leadership position).
- “I take on a lot and hesitate to delegate tasks.”
- “I’m not familiar enough with PowerPoint, my presentations could be prettier.”
It is important to remember two points here. First, do not invent and attribute to yourself qualities that you do not have.
Secondly, the employer will still find serious gaps in your knowledge and skills, and pretty soon. If it’s not something that can be learned in a few weeks, it’s better to admit it at the interview, then you and your manager will not find yourself in a stupid situation.
What else is worth considering
Don’t get stuck
Prepare in advance and, if necessary, rehearse the answer. Interviews are always exciting, but HR or your manager expects you to not be silent or panicky trying to find the right words.
No need to apologize, sprinkle ashes on your head, use self-deprecating language. “I can’t”, “I don’t know how”, “I’m doing poorly” is better to replace with more constructive and optimistic options:
- “My growth zone is…”
- “I should work harder on…”
- “I need to develop in…”
- “My focus right now is on…”
Don’t get carried away
Listing all and all of your shortcomings and describing in detail, with examples, how exactly they manifest themselves, is not the best idea. It is enough to choose a couple of weak points and say a few words about each without going into details.
Don’t say you don’t have flaws
Overly self-confident people who are not capable of self-criticism are usually treated very wary.
Talk about how you are working on yourself
The fact that you recognize your weaknesses is already good. But even better is to show that you are striving for self-improvement.
Tell us what you are doing to upgrade the missing skills and qualities, what you plan to do, what results you have already achieved.
- “I should pay more attention to presentations. I have been attending classes for a week now.”
- “My area of growth is communications. I read articles on this topic, I try to communicate more with different people.”