So you screwed up in the interview, huh? They asked the ol’ “What’s your greatest weakness” question and you responded with “bladder control,” hoping to get a laugh. That’s awkward. Lucky for you, we have friends on the inside – Amy Shanks, Ashley Dooks, and Dalia Dajani, recruiters at OSCO Construction Group are here to share their insight. Read on, and good luck!
They ask: What are you NOT good at professionally?
This question can be worded a number of different ways: What are your weaknesses? On past performance evaluations, what were your areas for development? When we call your previous supervisor, what will they say are your shortcomings?
It doesn’t matter how it is worded, the desired response is always the same. Employers want an honest answer with the steps you are incorporating to overcome the weakness. They want to know that you recognize your areas for development and that you are working towards fixing them.
Let’s face it, no one is perfect; however, most candidates believe employers are asking this question looking for a reason not to hire you. This is far from the truth.
One of our challenges as recruiters are candidates who answer this question with a positive trait. For example, “I’m a perfectionist”, “I’m a workaholic” or “I’m super organized.” Let’s be honest, being a perfectionist is not a weakness. All this tells the employer is that you don’t want to admit that you are not perfect or that maybe you really think you are perfect (who wants to work with that person?). Be prepared if you answer with one of these positive trait responses for the employer to challenge that answer with a question like, “That sounds like a positive trait, what is your weakness?”
So what is the right answer? Well, that all depends on you. But the following tips can help you develop a response.
- Be honest with yourself. What area in your professional life do you continue to struggle with? Consider this question from your employers or instructors point of view. What would they say is an area you need to work on? Where do you struggle? If you really don’t know, ask someone.
- What you are doing to overcome this weakness? If you feel it is something you will always struggle with, then tell the perspective employer what steps you have put in place to avoid it. For example: “I have always struggled with details. I often rush through tasks being more concerned with the due date than the accuracy of the work. My solution is simple, but it works. I have a sticky note on my computer screen that reminds me to slow down. Anytime I start rushing through a task, I look up and it reminds me of the countless times I’ve rushed through a task to meet a deadline, made mistakes and ended up re-doing it.”
Remember, employers are not looking for a reason to NOT hire you. We all know no one is perfect; the issue isn’t whether or not you have imperfections; it is whether or not you are able to recognize and overcome them.
If you are still set on answering the question with a strength in disguise, keep in mind, that if you make it past the interview stage of the hiring process, the next step is to check references. If you rely on your reference to answer this question for you, it does not allow you the opportunity to show the perspective employer that you recognize and have the ability to correct this flaw. jp