Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 22nd 2015 Contents B4
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, September 22, 2015
"What's your greatest weakness?"
is the question that no one ever quite
knows how to prepare to answer.
This single question has the power to
determine in one swift blow whether you
are a potential asset or a liability to a
prospective employer. Luckily, there is a
solution -- prepare in advance for this
dreaded question, and you will tame the
Yes, You Do Have a Weakness
Maybe only one weakness -- if you
are very lucky or delusional or not paying
attention -- but you do have a weakness.
At least one!
So, the worst answer to this question
"I don't have any weaknesses."
The employer is trying to figure out
if your weakness will make it hard for
you to do a good job or fit into the organ-
ization. They are also interested in how
you handle a tough question like this
So time to be honest, at least to a cer-
tain degree, hopefully without ruining
your chances at the opportunity.
The Smart Two-Part Answer
Notice in the example answers below,
each answer has two parts:
The confession of the weakness, and...
The recovery - how you manage your-
self to minimize the impact of the weak-
ness, or the plan you have for recovery.
Be sure to present these weaknesses
in terms of how they impact the employ-
er. See the examples below.
Picking Your Best Weakness
You want to position yourself effectively
within the interview and need to match
positive answers with positive tone of
voice and body language.
When you prepare for this question,
you will want to pick a weakness that
does one of three things:
Is a strength in disguise, or...
Represents an irrelevant weakness.
Be sure that this weakness does not
hinder your ability to do the job or to fit
in with the employer.
1. The "Strength in Disguise" Weak-
What do I mean by a "weakness that
is really a strength in disguise"? The
weakness is really a good characteristic
that has been taken a bit too far.
Notice the two part answers: (1) the
Confession, and (2) the Recovery:
Weakness: Self Critic -- Strength:
(Confession)"I feel that my greatest
weakness is that I am very critical of my
own work. I have always prided myself
on producing excellent and error-free
work. While this is beneficial to my job
performance, it is possible to go to
(Recovery)"I have also found that I can
easily waste time checking and recheck-
ing. Now I am aware of what to look for
in being such a stickler, so I am always
making a conscious effort to trust myself
and my quality focus more and not be
so incredibly critical of my work. I know
that there is a limit to proofreading."
Weakness: People Pleaser --
Strength: Easy to Work With
(Confession)"It's important to me that
everyone gets along in the workplace. In
the past I have always gone the extra
mile to help out whenever it is necessary
in trying not to disappoint or let anyone
(Recovery)"I'm not saying I no longer
help others out. However, I've learned to
be more assertive, to better recognize
and prioritize projects, to know whether
I can bail others out without jeopardizing
my existing work."
Weakness: New Graduate, Entry-
Level, or Career Changer without
Relevant Experience -- Strength: Fast
(Confession)"Some people would con-
sider the fact that I have never worked
in this field before as a weakness. How-
ever, being highly trainable and open
minded, I have no pre-conceived notions
on how to perform my job.
(Recovery)"Working with your organ-
ization will give me the opportunity to
learn the job the way you want it done,
not the way I believe it is done. In addi-
tion, although I have no former on-the-
job experience, I do bring with me exten-
sive hands-on training and experience
which can only enhance my ability to
learn extremely quickly."
Weakness: Out-of-Date Technical
Skills -- Strength: Insight and ini-
BE VERY CAREFUL of this one! It
might backfire if not presented careful-
ly.(Confession)"In my last job, we used
the same medical transcription software
for many years that ran on the old tech-
nology we used, so my software skills
became out of date. Other than personal
use of the new versions of Microsoft
Outlook and Word on my own computer
at home, I had no experience using the
current version of Microsoft Office prod-
(Recovery)"I learned about new medical
transcription software -- from XYZ Com-
pany -- which is based on a newer ver-
sion of Microsoft Office. So, a few months
ago, I started a training program focused
on the current versions of Microsoft
Office products, focused on Excel, Word,
and Outlook. As a result, I became pro-
ficient enough to help when we finally
made the transition to the new software.
"In helping my colleagues learn the
new software, I realized that I must con-
tinue to pay attention to what is hap-
pening with technology in this field and
keep my skills up-to-date, even if my
employer isn't staying current."
2. The "Irrelevant" Weakness
Perhaps you would prefer to use the
harmless weakness strategy. Some
employers might view this "weakness"
as a "strength" assuming you could stop
Again, we have a (1) confession and a
(Confession)"I have had a hard time
disconnecting from technology. I always
have my smart phone with me and, of
course, I have a computer at home. So,
I was constantly checking in with my
work email while I checked my personal
email. I didn't check it while driving, but
I did check it too often outside of working
hours and even on weekends.
(Recovery)"I promised myself that I
would stop being so obsessed with tech-
nology, and pay more attention to real
life -- to my family, my friends, and
what's happening around me. Detaching
from technology is restful, good for my
eyes (I'm told), and keeps me better-con-
nected with the real world. I'm even read-
ing a book, printed on paper, currently.
So, I think I'm a more balanced person,
Obviously, this would not be the
weakness to choose if the position
being sought required being "on duty"
by your phone twenty-four by seven.
And some organizations want and
expect this kind of "obsession" by
employees. So, if you want to work
for one of those employers, you might
want to find a different, more irrelevant
Choosing Your Best Weakness
Regardless of what strategy you use,
your ultimate goal is to present a real
weakness that does not damage your
potential for the position, but also
does not come across as dishonest,
unrealistic, or staged.
If you are not sure if you are picking
a negative weakness, review the criteria
for the position, and put yourself in
the shoes of the employer to consider
what you would like to hear and what
you would think was negative.
Take time to practice difficult
answers like this with a partner until
you feel comfortable so that you will
sound natural and confident in the
Links Archive September 21st 2015 September 23rd 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page