Friday, December 15, 2006

Dealing with the weakness question: What to say

An effective way of dealing with the weakness question is to locate
the weakness (preferably a skills deficiency) at some time in the past
and then describe the steps you took to overcome it (similar to
overcoming shortcomings, see above). The idea is that you show
the interviewer that you are able to overcome your weaknesses. It’s
also good to try to finish your answer on a positive note. Here’s
what an exchange may sound like.
Question: Tell us about your weaknesses.
When I was working for Chaos several years ago, one of my
weaknesses was in the area of making presentations to clients
and internal staff. Not that my presentations were disasters—
far from it—but they lacked the polish of other more
experienced presenters. So I approached a presenter whose
style I admired and asked her if she could give me some tips
on how I could improve my skills. Fortunately, she was very
happy to help me, including sitting in one of my presentations
and giving me feedback about my weaknesses. I took her
feedback on board and made several changes, which led to
my presentations improving significantly.
If the interviewer is not happy with this type of answer because it
fails to talk about a current weakness, simply provide a skills-based
weakness that is not going to undermine your chances of winning the
job—in other words, a weakness that is not very relevant to the job.

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