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Job interview - What do I answer to the question about weaknesses?

15/07/2022 2022/07

Do you know how it is when you go into a job interview unprepared, thinking you'll be fine, and then the well-known horror question is asked: "What are your weaknesses?" In almost every job interview, recruiters ask this question. That is exactly why applicants should be well prepared for it. Many candidates legitimately ask themselves how they can positively impress the interviewer with their answer without directly reducing or even ruining their chances of getting the job. Here we would like to offer helpful examples of how applicants can be convincing in an interview and respond correctly to the question. 

Tips on the weaknesses in the job interview

Every recruiter immediatly recognize typical phrases, such as "chocolate" or "I have no weaknesses", but also standard formulations, such as "I have a poor sense of direction" or "I am a very impatient person" are not great replies and should be avoided. 

Applicants should be honest with themselves and their counterparts and admit their flaws and small mistakes, as no one is perfect. It is not always positive when only strengths are mentioned in an interview and no weaknesses are pointed out. This conveys a lack of self-reflection and poor handling of deficits to the recruiter. Also with negative aspects in the past life should be dealt openly and solution-oriented. After all, in the future, job seekers will always face new challenges in their new jobs. Applicants should therefore deal openly with their weaknesses, but not with those that are directly related to the job. What does this mean in concrete terms? Core competencies or key qualifications should never be discussed, but instead weaknesses should be backed up with strengths. In this case, secretaries should never talk about spelling problems and marketing employees should never talk about their lack of creativity. It is advisable to draw up a list of weaknesses in advance.

Examples of appropriate answers in the job interview

  1. "Speaking in front of larger audiences and delivering presentations is difficult for me. Here I am very insecure. To improve this situation, I'd be happy to take on small speeches in the company, or I'll attend a course on how to better control my discomfort and nervousness, or I'll take on more function in a meeting and lead through the meeting."
  2. "I am a very punctual person and always complete my tasks on time. When I'm working in a group and the deadline is getting closer and closer, I tend to feel uncomfortable when I see that there is still work to be done. I try to become more relaxed in this situation and motivate my team members."
  3. "When writing longer texts, I often need more time to find the right words. Here, if necessary, I can write more for the company or deal with more emails."
  4. "I am very perfectionistic and quickly get lost in details, so I sometimes lose the big picture. I'm trying to structure myself better here in terms of how much I want to cover each topic."
  5. "I have a hard time selling things and getting them to the right person. In return, I can score points in other areas with my communication skills and manners."
  6. "I am a very helpful person, so it is often difficult for me to say no once in a while as well so I take on more tasks than possible. I now try to be more consistent and try not to answer immediately, but weigh it first and then give an honest answer, even if it is no once."
  7. "In some situations, I have a hard time getting organized. To keep a better overview, I have created a daily list of my tasks that I can then cross off."
  8. "I have somewhat lost my knowledge of foreign languages, as they were not relevant in my old position. To refresh my knowledge, I am taking an online course."
  9. "Since I'm fresh out of college/training, I unfortunately don't have that much work experience. Nevertheless, I can shine with my theoretical knowledge and would like to put it into practice to gain more practical experience."
  10. "I don't like to talk on the phone, because I prefer personal contact with the person I'm talking to. Here I can convince the counterpart more. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work due to the distance, so I try to look after my conversation partners more over the phone in order to soon develop this weakness into a strength." 

Other possible questions in a job interview

Personnel officers do not always ask applicants directly about their weaknesses in the job interview. Many interviewers formulate suitable alternatives to this, but they want to aim at the same thing - to find out whether applicants can self-reflect and also deal with their own shortcomings. To be prepared for this, here are some examples of how the question about weaknesses can still be:

  • What is your biggest flaw?
  • What personal characteristics do you still need to work on?
  • How would others describe you?
  • From a scale of 1 to 10 how responsible are you?

Conclusion 

The question about weaknesses in the job interview can be nerve-wracking, but with a few tips, tricks and preparation, this can be handled easily as well. Take your time when answering, come across as authentic and not as if you have memorized some sentence. Give an honest and positive answer and always give examples for the weaknesses mentioned or signal that you are working on your deficiencies. This way you can convince the interviewer and show that you are the right candidate for the position. 

However, there is something positive about asking about your weaknesses: you learn self-reflection and which things you can still work on personally. You might not even have been aware of them yourself. 

 

Sources: Karrierebibel | workwise.io

About the Author
Patricia Gasdzik
HR Marketing

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