Wednesday, April 29, 2009

reader's question: what's a good weakness?

In response to Friday's post, one commentator asked what a good response would be to the job interview question What are your weaknesses? This is probably every one's least favourite question, but a common one, so be prepared.

One strategy is to turn a negative into a positive. Admit to a weakness – a minor one – then quickly turn the conversation to how you have overcome that weakness, or how you manage it.

For example, I get distracted very, very easily. A person walks by, an email pops up, or I hear someone talking about a movie I just saw and have to add my two cents. I manage these distractions, in part, by wearing headphones and listening to music to block out sounds, and by turning off all auto notifications on my email – no dings or bouncing icons. This demonstrates to the interviewer that I'm capable of self-assessment and self-improvement.

And that's the main point of the question. The interviewer wants to know if you can recognize where you need improvement and if you can figure out how to make yourself better.

And keep in mind, you don't want to admit to anything that might be a deal breaker, like you hate writing or don't always work well with others. But you also don't want to say anything completely irrelevant either. A weakness for chocolate or an inability to manage your chequebook are just weird answers.

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