4 samples answers-How To answer weaknesses during a job interview
Sometimes weakness stays forever, and it could be a personality trait. Weakness might depend on the type of role, jobs, environment, leadership style and many others. Being self-aware with your action plan is the strategy throughout your career.
First, you need to understand yourself and the job description before answering the questions. This is why your weaknesses could be different based on each job description. Pick the area of opportunity, which is not related to the required skills. Avoid main competencies that are must-haves- hard & soft skills. Take a look at the questions below and figure out why they are related to being self-aware. These questions are interrelated to the areas of opportunities and lessons you have learned from the past. Do you have supporting examples of your weakness?
Do you have Challenge/ Context- Action- Result- Lesson learned (CARL) technique?
Have you ever failed to meet deadlines on a project?
Tell us about the time when someone disagreed with your innovative idea
Have you had to deal with conflict with the stakeholders/ boss?
What is the area of opportunity you are working on?
Have you ever been performance managed, what happened?
Have you been given constructive criticism and how did you deal with that?
What would your boss/ colleagues/ team say about you?
What is that one thing you need to work on or had to work on in your last job?
Have you ever disagreed with your boss/ team member/stakeholders?
Choose a real weakness, not the type of weakness which converts into a strength. It is all about the right story which made you self-aware and the lessons you learned.
Common answers hiring managers have heard more than 10000 times are perfectionist, can't say no etc. Remember, it is not what you say but how you say it. Avoid scripting the answers and bring your real-life stories. If you are going through the panel interview process and various rounds, you need to have multiple examples of areas of personal development. I have had many clients who went through interviews in top companies and had to give more than one weakness. Companies compare the notes with managers. This is why job seekers need to stand out without blending with other job seekers. Each company has an interview structure in top companies. For example, Amazon interviews are focused on leadership principles and there are many questions related to areas of opportunity and innovation.
Type of real weakness job seekers could use based on the job description.
Try this: Emotional intelligence, bluntness, too direct, hard time delegating, presentation etiquette skills, delivering the information concisely, public speaking, lack of knowledge of particular tools i,e excel, adobe, business analytics etc, delivering feedback in real-time, setting boundaries, hard time developing relationship outside of the department as an introvert, focusing in listening skills as an extrovert, etc.
Examples: which have two weaknesses, time management during the presentation and emotional intelligence. you can use one example from below.
Context/ Challenge: I used to have a hard time executing the monthly meetings on time and as a result, I had to do follow-up meetings again. I also struggled in welcoming feedback during the presentation because of time allotment which affected audience engagement. I needed to work on my approach i.e. how to handle disagreement without being too direct/ dismissive and still run the meeting on time.
Action: I reach out to the mentors for help who were amazing at controlling crowds in meetings. I asked them to sit through my meeting and provide me with feedback which helped. The first step was to extend the meeting from 1 hour to one and half hours. The second step was to send the agenda and topics in advance so there are no surprises. The last step was to be self-aware of emotional intelligence when receiving feedback. I learned that it was my body language and how I disagreed. I worked on it by asking the right question. I became self-aware, started to engage with the audience, & welcomed their suggestions. I took notes of their suggestions, & asked, "tell me more" "your thoughts?" " Why do you think it differently" . Then I followed up with stakeholders to check in if we ran out of time. I asked the audience from the meeting what they would like me to do differently and implemented the change for the next month.
Result: I saw the immediate change, I got buy-in, and the meeting ended in time. My relationship became better. More people spoke up and provided me with the broken process which helped me grow as a person. I became better at managing up and fostering relationships with colleagues.
Lessons learned: Being blunt might hurt your reputation even if you have good intentions. When in conflict I became self-aware of emotions. First is to listen, work on my body language, and tone, welcome the critics, understand the other person, and make them feel heard then follow up. I understood that disagreement is part of business, it helps to identify the process gap. Seek to understand before assuming became my motto.
Present state: I practice a similar technique when I deal with online disagreements. First, I seek to understand and work on my emotional intelligence. Sometimes you could disagree & still have mutual respect. Sometimes it is okay to agree to disagree but watch the tone and body language.
How do you make the interview conversational to find out why they are asking these questions?
Right after answering the weakness question ask them " since we are on this topic, could you please let me know what programs are in place for a new hire/ current employee for personal development, how does that work?"
Why do people usually struggle with this role within 30-6-90 days? How does the onboarding process work for this role? This type of question helps you understand the hiring manager's expectations from day one.
Ask about personal development courses, budgets, and where are the courses, many organizations partner with partners, and you might need approval from managers to attend these courses for reimbursement.
How often do they invest in internal coaching, do they have a toastmaster's club, or a learning and development team?
Here are 20 good questions to ask during the job interview and how to make the interview conversational.
Why do managers ask questions related to weaknesses?
As a hiring manager, I might ask these questions to support you in your area of opportunity. It is easier to coach people who are self-aware based on my experience. Own the weakness and show you are self-aware and seek help if you need help.
Frankly, I have not asked those outdated questions ever since I have been consulting. I used to ask during the corporate world. We had preset interview questions for the role with templates to avoid bias and discrimination. We had a career path established for the employee and identifying areas of personal development helped us, coach, better.
We had allotted personal development budget for the direct reports and as a manager, I would approve the courses based on our regular coaching sessions. I used to ask areas of opportunities questions, to internal candidates, and develop the skills that helped me market them for promotion. It becomes difficult to coach those when people are not self-aware.
When I hire now through my Teachndo consultancy, I focus on samples of their work to check their skills. I usually hire with technical skills, and freelancers, through referrals.
“What Is Your Greatest Weakness?” Answer Samples
How do you deal with conflict at the workplace?
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I was approached by CTV News Canada to talk about the struggle immigrants go through after landing. Many newcomers to Canada struggle with job interviews. It is not always about having no Canadian experience. It is about not having exposure to the corporate culture and lingo in Canada. Passing an interview is all about understanding the hiring manager's pain and how you could solve it by using the right examples from the past. Learn to have employers at hello. I can help!
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