Today we cover our 3rd question, and I know I can’t be the only one who thinks “what a shit question”. Well, I used to think that anyway!
What are your weaknesses?
It’s not as daunting as it seems. This can be one of the best questions to be asked if answered the right way. As always, confidence and preparation are a MUST. Most people know what they are good at, sure, but not everyone knows what they aren’t good at or where they may need improvement.
Don’t get yourself down if you know you need improvement somewhere, EVERYONE needs improvement… NO ONE is perfect. I am sorry if you are one of those people who think you don’t need any improvement, we can all do better in some way, shape or form. Admitting it, identifying it and doing something about it are all steps to being better.
When interviewers ask this question they aren’t trying to demotivate or put you down. They are trying to identify whether you can be honest, whether you can identify any weaknesses and how you can overcome or work on improving this.
You can tell a lot about a person with this question and how it is answered. If you don’t prepare your answer chances are you wont think of a weakness or how to improve it – not a good one or relevant one anyway. Off the cuff answers are no good. They show lack of drive to better yourself and the lack of ability to prepare for meetings or questions.
Organisation, preparation, confidence, ownership. These are all big aspects of any job interview and even more so, the job itself. You don’t have to be loud and outgoing to be confident. You don’t have to know everything to take ownership. You don’t have to have it all “together” to be organised and prepare. Just be yourself. Spend some time, put in a little effort. You can do it. I know you can!
It’s vital you don’t make any promises that you can’t keep, or don’t intend to keep. Don’t tell them you won’t do it in the future, or that you won’t make a mistake. Because you will, and that’s ok. The sooner you understand that it’s ok to make mistakes, the better off you will be. Obviously we need to learn from our mistakes, put things in place to avoid them in future and take ownership if and when we make another mistake. You won’t get anywhere saying you wont do it again or never admitting to a weakness in the first place.
Extra points to you if you are already working on it, one thing I think of when someone tells me they will work on it is “why haven’t you already started if you have identified the weakness?”.
One thing that I KNOW I can do better at is keeping better track of my tasks. I attend a lot of meetings and I am known as an avid note taker. If I don’t write it down or make note some way I will most likely forget, or not prioritise this task over others that I do have noted down. How do I manage this? I always have either my phone or a pen and notepad on me. That way, if something comes up I can note it down and not forget. I also use an app called Wunderlist – this is to track my tasks. For more detailed notes, agenda’s or minutes from meetings I use a program and app called Evernote. This syncs to my phone, iPad and laptop so I can use it anywhere anytime. At a bare minimum I keep a planner on me where I take notes, write down tasks and due dates, priorities, etc. I rarely miss something now as I have taken action to avoid it.
So here is an example answer based on MY weakness:
I don’t mind admitting that my biggest weakness is keeping track of my tasks. In the past it became apparent that if I was in a meeting or someone asked me to do something and I didn’t note it down I would forget or not prioritise this task as it wasn’t written down. I missed 2 important tasks within a few weeks of each other, after the first time I told myself I would do better. After the second time instead of telling myself I would do better I actually took action to avoid it happening again. I began taking a pen and notepad with me to meetings or if someone was telling me something or asking me to do something I would immediately write it down either on the notepad or in my phone. I found an app & program called Wunderlist which is a great task management program. Since then I have been able to keep on top of my tasks. I note things down right away and don’t forget. I know this isn’t a fool proof plan, but it has certainly helped me improve and keep on top of my tasks. I haven’t missed another task yet, and I know I likely will at some point but I am doing my best to manage them and myself more effectively every day. I would love to see how else I could improve and look forward to that opportunity by working with you.
It’s worth asking your family, friends, and colleagues what they think you may need to improve on. Ask them to be honest, and don’t take it personally. Constructive criticism is not only hard to receive but it is also hard to deliver – so if you ask, be ready to hear it. Start reviewing yourself when you make a mistake. I LOVE mistakes, because they are the best way to learn and do better next time. You can’t gain experience without failure!
Do you struggle with deadlines? Do you analyse things too much? Do you seem standoffish or unapproachable to your colleagues? Do you have outside commitments that take you away from work often? Whatever it is, do your best to identify it. Remember, no one is perfect and it’s OK to have weaknesses. We all have them! We are all unique and grow in different ways.
Give it all that you got, girl. Own it!