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Cassper On HR
3 months
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How do I answer in an interview when asked "what is your weakness"?

I presume this question is specifically concerned with the dreaded “what is your weakness?” interview question. I have had the privilege of interviewing hundreds of people in my career, so i hope you find the following perspective helpful.
It’s a great question because everyone gets this wrong. I hear all the time in interviews, “I care too much,” or, “I work too hard.” Really? You have only 1/2 years of professional experience but commitment and determination are the closest you get to a weakness? I recommend the following instead.

Step one, know your weaknesses. Know them intimately, because every day they hold you back and limit your impact. Then plot a course to improve or supplement yourself in those areas. You’re conflict avoidant? Practice productive conflict every day to build up your comfort. You’re an introvert? Study and practice the tools of influence. You don’t understand finance? Read a book on finance and ask a friend in accounting to coach you.

Step two, when asked in an interview for your weaknesses, tell the truth. Admit your skill gaps and share what steps you have taken -- and will continue to take -- to improve in these areas.

When I am hiring, I am looking for someone who is self-aware and coachable. One of our company's core values is “Get Better Everyday.” Someone who knows her deficits and is on it is someone I know is going to continue to improve and grow in her career. By far, your greatest weakness is going to be the one you don’t know you have yet — I want to hire someone who is going to grow beyond that next limitation.

Lets try it.

“My greatest weakness is that I don’t take enough credit when I do great work.”

“We both know that’s not a weakness. Can you give me a real weakness, please? I want to get to know you better.”

“Ok, I have always been terrified of public speaking. But I know it is a skill that is essential for leaders and will hold me back from next levels of management. I have committed myself to becoming a good public speaker and have made real progress. I have read three books on the topic and joined Toastmasters, an organization that provides opportunities to learn and practice speaking in front of others. Last night I did my third presentation and was really proud of the results. I still get nervous and have a lot more work to do, but I am going to nail this by the end of the year.”

Now that is someone I want on my team!

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