Showing weakness in the cut and thrust of the commercial world gives your competitors something to work on and puts you at a disadvantage.

Now here you are in an interview for a job that you really want and you’re being asked “what are your greatest weaknesses?”

So what’s this question all about and how do you answer it? And is your answer going to jeopardise your interview? Well it will if you go for a job in finance and then say you’re hopeless at figures. You’ve need to be realistic.

A quick word of advice here; most seasoned interviewers probably won’t ask you this question for the reasons I’ve given above: that nobody would give a real weakness to the interviewer. But you should still prepare for it.

Either way, this is a question that’s judging you attitude and current plans to overcome that weakness. It’s in the same camp as the old saying: ‘it’s not how you fall down, it’s how you pick yourself up’.

So to when handling this question, identify a weakness that you can turn into a positive.  .

Try to keep your weaknesses technical not personal. No-one wants to hear you saying you like to gossip or you spend too much time playing company politics.  Your weaknesses need to be solvable, manageable deficiencies that you are overcoming or learning to eradicate. This way you sound positive despite your weakness.  For example if you were talking about your PC skills, you could say “I am much more experienced at using Microsoft Word compared to PowerPoint but I am planning to train myself in my spare time so I can get up to speed with it”.

What doesn’t work is trying to be clever or glib. Any insincerity will stand out like a sore thumb if you try and give a ‘smart-ass’ answer. You’ll sound like a bit of a chancer.

Have a think about your weaknesses – and don’t be afraid of them, we’ve all got them. If you’ve got  a weakness, let’s call it a shortcoming if you like, and if you’re not doing anything about it then it’s a good idea to address the situation whether you’re going to an interview or not.

If you’re struggling with trying to find a weakness, (or one you’d be happy to talk about in an interview) then think about your strengths as well. You’ve probably heard it often enough in life that someone’s greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. For example: let’s say you’re the sort of person that likes to get stuck into a job and be hands on (which is good) – but does this mean that you don’t trust other people or you don’t know how to delegate?

That’s a simple example, but you get the idea. n

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