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Tuesday, February 7, 2017 guardian.co.tt
What's Your Greatest Weakness?
"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 de-
termine in one swift blow whether you are a
potential asset or a liability to a prospective
employer. Luckily, there is a solution -- pre-
pare in advance for this dreaded question,
and you will tame the monster!
Today, many HR professionals consider
this question old-fashioned and pointless.
Who would admit to a genuine weakness in
a job interview? But interviewers who do ask
this question often see it as a test of the can-
didate's interest and preparation. So, being
ready for this question is the best strategy.
Yes, You Do Have a Weakness.
BE PREPARED WITH THREE WEAKNESSES
After you answer this question, you may
be asked for a second and even a third weak-
ness, so be prepared. Below, you will find
three different categories of weaknesses.
Choose one from each category or focus on
one type. But, do be prepared with more than
one weakness in case you are asked. Often,
if your job search is focused on one type of
job, one set of weaknesses will be sufficient.
DON'T BE TACKY
Most employers are tired of hearing that
a job candidate's greatest weakness is that
they are a perfectionist or that they are afraid
to speak in front of large groups. Those are
old, tired responses.
USE THE SMART TWO-PART ANSWER
Notice in the example answers below, each
answer has two parts:
1. The confession of the weakness, and...
2. The recovery -- how you managed yourself
to minimize the impact of the weakness, or (more
risky) the plan you have for recovery.
Be sure to present these weaknesses in terms of
how they impact the employer.
Adapt them to your situation and the employer.
THREE TYPES OF WEAKNESSES:
PICK YOUR BEST WEAKNESSES
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:
• The weakness is a strength in disguise, or...
• Present a current strength as a recovered weak-
• The weakness 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" WEAKNESS
What exactly is a "weakness that is really a strength
in disguise"? The weakness is really a good charac-
teristic that has been taken a bit too far. These will
give you an idea of the kinds of weaknesses you can
confess to and the way you have overcome it.
Notice the two part answers: (1) the Confession,
and (2) the Recovery:
Weakness: New Graduate, Entry-Level, or Career
Changer without Relevant Experience
Strength: Enthusiastic Learner and Hard Worker
(Confession) "Some people would consider the
fact that I have never worked in this field before as
a weakness. However, being fast learner and open
minded, I have no pre-conceived notions on how to
perform my job."
(Recovery) "With this new work, I will have the
opportunity to learn the job the way you want it
done, not the way a different organization does it.
I am never bored because there is always something
new to learn. In addition, although I have no former
on-the-job experience with this work, I do bring my
love of learning new things, which can only enhance
my ability to learn this process very quickly. And,
I've always been commended by my managers for
my commitment to work hard. I'm always on-time
and not a slacker."
If you do have experience or skills relevant to the
job, be sure to mention them in your recovery.
Strength: Careful, Thoughtful, and Self-Sufficient
(Confession) "As a child, I was identified as an
introvert, and I have considered that a weakness. I tend
to prefer to work alone or with a very small group of
people whom I know I can trust. I prefer working in a
very quiet environment which is not always possible
in a busy office with people working and talking in
cubicles all around me."
(Recovery) "I realized as an adult that being an
introvert definitely has advantages. I am motivat-
ed to work based more on thought and reason than
on emotion. Typically, I don't usually require close
management -- give me a project, and I'll dig into
it. I'll ask questions to be sure I understand what is
needed and when I need more information, but I will
get the job done, on-time, and without a lot of fuss. I
do make an effort to reach out to my co-workers, to
be friendly and cooperative, and to have a good rela-
tionship with everyone I work with, but I'm happiest
when I have work to do. If the office is too noisy for
me, I have earplugs that block background noise so
I can focus on my work when the noise is too great,
which doesn't usually happen very often."
Naturally, if the job required you to be a good listen-
er in some way (customer service, for example), you
wouldn't mention how noisy environments bother
you or that you use earplus to block that noise.
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