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3 Secrets To Mastering “What Are Your Weaknesses?”

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The trick is to spin a flaw into a strength by crafting an answer demonstrating genuine honesty, self-awareness, and a desire to grow. In this blog we go through the process of crafting the best response to "What are your weaknesses?"

Your Interviewer is Looking for Three Things:
 

1.     Self-awareness: Everyone has weaknesses, so everyone should have an answer to this question. This degree of self-awareness demonstrates that you have reflected on your past experiences, which is not only a great entrepreneurial trait but also allows you to change your future outcomes.


2.     Honesty: It is not about pleasing the interviewer or saying what you believe they want to hear. They might be asking this question for reasons you are completely unaware of, such as how to assist you in your onboarding process, so it is best to tell the truth.


3.     A desire for growth: Nobody wants to sound bad in an interview, so to counteract your weakness the interviewer wants to know you are working to improve and are motivated to minimise these flaws.

If you are struggling with ways to structure these answers, the STAR technique is a favourite amongst students who are job-seeking.

Practice

Answering interview questions is a skill that needs working on and therefore you should engage in mock interviews to refine your responses and build self-assurance. It is well worth booking in a session with a mentor or a helpful guide to prep for any situations that might come up, such as "What are your weaknesses?" Our free platform Graduate Mentor has many seasoned professsionals who have excelled in various industries and interview scenarios.

Avoid Clichés

Avoid the first clichés like "I'm a perfectionist," instead say something like "I get frustrated when I have limited time to complete a task, especially if it relies on others." This appears more genuine and applicable. As previously stated, it is also critical that you explain how you are improving your patience when waiting on others and working to a strict time frame. Monitoring your time allocation, for example, and allowing yourself to refocus on the wider project.

Another approach to "I'm a perfectionist" could be "I sometimes set myself to too high standards and cause myself stress when things don't work out, instead of being more realistic with my goals and taking every failure as an opportunity to improve." You could also include a brief overview of a time when things didn't go as planned, as well as the key takeaways from that experience.

Don't Try To Avoid The Question

The second cliché is attempting to spin a negative as a positive to appear as the ideal candidate, using phrases such as "I just work too hard." It comes across as bragging and shows a lack of real introspection. Reflect on a time when your work/life balance was difficult to manage and the steps you took to overcome it. Alternatively, apply this attitude to a time when you took on too much and required the insight and collaboration of others. This demonstrates that you realised that getting the best results and delegating some tasks to other experts is more important than trying to take credit for everything.

A good way to respond to this interview question is to reframe it as what you hope to learn, acknowledging that you are in a position to expand your knowledge. Reflecting on a relevant skill or quality demonstrates to the interviewer that you are invested in the field in which you wish to advance your career. Perhaps you want to improve your public speaking skills by taking on more responsibilities that require it or share an online course on a specific topic that you have a particular interest in.

Reflect On Past Work Experience

Another approach to this question is to be honest about what you disliked about your previous jobs. If you know how you prefer to work and how you achieve the highest level of productivity for yourself, this is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your self-awareness and confidence in your methods based on past inefficiencies. Be open about your learning styles and how you prefer to approach projects. This will assist the interviewer in determining whether their company is right for you, which is equally important as if you are right for them, as well as the appropriate level of training to provide you for you to achieve the highest level of productivity.

Answering the dreaded "What are your weaknesses?" question can be difficult, especially when trying to make a good first impression. Hopefully, this blog has calmed some nerves and demonstrated that it is a fantastic opportunity to hone your interview skills while also demonstrating high levels of self-awareness and a desire for growth.

Freya is a Marketing student at the University of Portsmouth, and is currently on a placement year as marketing assistant at GRB! Outside of work she enjoys wellness podcasts, going out with friends, and audiobooks. 

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