Non-Academic Job Interviews: Talking About Your Weaknesses
This post is the first in a series of blog posts dealing with some of the most popular non-academic interview questions and answers that will get you hired. In this post, we will address the infamous “walk me through your resume” question.
Talking about your weaknesses is one of the most common topics in non-academic job interviews. Employers want to hire people who possess a healthy EQ, and a good way for them to evaluate someone’s emotional intelligence is to assess his/her self-awareness.
The best way to tackle the question is to approach it as a problem that needs to be solved. In other words, you should point out your weaknesses to demonstrate your ability to turn a negative into a positive. How do you do that? By showing the interviewer your ability to reveal “areas for growth and development” in your skill set rather than exposing your flaws.
Here are some tips on how to identify and evaluate your weaknesses, and discuss them gracefully in the context of non-academic job interviews.
- You should be prepared to talk about at least three weaknesses. How do you identify them? Ask yourself this question: “If I had to make improvements on myself to work better or deliver better and faster results, what would I work on?”
- There is such a thing as a “bad” or a “good” weakness. It’s important that your weaknesses are interview-friendly. How do you determine that? Keep your weaknesses work-related. Don’t discuss your addiction to the internet or your struggle with procrastination. Avoid any weaknesses that might put your reliability into question. Instead, choose weaknesses that can be easily fixed. Good examples: improving your organization skills, your ability to delegate, to set priorities for yourself, to manage conflict, etc.
- Be honest. The best way to impress is to be sincere. However, a job interview is not a confession. Talk about your weaknesses in a concise, neutral, and objective manner. Don’t pour your heart out. Avoid being negative, or being defensive.
- Once you’ve defined your weaknesses, make sure that you are prepared to demonstrate that you have already taken proactive steps to address these issues. Show the interviewer that the challenges you’ve encountered are merely temporary and that you are equipped to overcome them. You’ve had problems with your ability to delegate? Show the interviewers that you have taken the bull by the horns by breaking big projects into smaller steps to avoid being overwhelmed, by assessing the strengths of the people you work with, by working on yourself, etc.
- Avoid clichés like “I work too hard” or “I am a perfectionist.” While your goal is to address the question by turning a negative, you must also keep in mind that your answers should reflect who you are. Interviewers will see right through your attempt to disguise a highly desirable quality as a weakness. You will immediately signal that you have something to hide!