Turn weaknesses into your strengths during job interviews

03.14.2014


Turn weaknesses into your strengths during job interviews
Overcome your weaknesses by embracing them in job interviews.

During almost every job interview, the interviewer will at one point ask someone trying to find a job what their biggest weaknesses are. While it can seem like a harrowing question, there's more to gain by taking responsibility and answering the question honestly than trying to avoid it, and working to own the situation can have long-term benefits.

The first thing to consider when faced with this question is that it isn't necessarily a bad thing, according to US News and World Report. Does the interviewer want you to reveal your darkest secrets, or are they simply trying to determine what you specialize in best, looking to see how well you know yourself? In many situations, interviewers aren't quite looking for strengths disguised as weaknesses, but instead an honest recollection and reflection into your own work ability.

As a result, it's important to be honest yet remain within the image of yourself you've built up to that point. When considering this question before the interview itself, think about different weak points in your work history and try to determine what can and can't be changed about them - but knowing your weaknesses isn't what hiring managers are looking for.

Fighting your weaknesses
In many cases, interviewers are looking for strong applicants willing to better themselves for the job at hand, and that's exactly how candidates need to present themselves - determining how to combat their weaknesses. For instance, simply saying that you become disorganized quickly, or that you leave too little time for yourself during the day, is a start but won't do much to impress your bosses. Instead, explaining how you came to realize those were your weaknesses, and that you now work to improve your organization or time management skills in your day-to-day life, will help you make a deeper connection. Any hiring manager will respect your openness to discuss the matter at hand, and having a better understanding of yourself will bode well for your prospects.

Other advice on this question comes from PayScale, which recently examined crowd-sourced answers and considerations from Reddit that should be made when considering the question of weakness. One approach is to consider why the hiring manager is asking you the question - it could be possible that they're asking for a negative reason, but most likely they're trying to determine how much you know yourself and your limitations in the field. Though it should be honest, your answer should also be relevant to the position, showing that despite your flaws you're more than qualified for the job.

Take the question seriously
There's little time to use humor in a job interview - while a funny answer may seem like a snappy way to nip this question in the bud, it may not improve your chances. Instead, always take this question seriously, as a humorous answer might distract and detract as much as it could help. A too-well-rehearsed answer will make an applicant look like he or she is avoiding something. Instead, being serious will keep things in the interviewer's wheelhouse with few distractions.

Most likely, though, the popularity of this question is likely checking the applicant's ability to get through a predicable situation, according to the news source. While the question may seem worrying at face value, its common use means a lack of preparation for it may have more negative reflections than positive ones. In effect, it's best to target the question with honesty while reflecting upon what the manager wants to hear - when in doubt, turn negatives into positives and present yourself as capable for the job.

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