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​ASK THE EXPERT - In a previous interview I was asked what my weaknesses were. I struggled to deliver a good answer - now I have another interview coming up and would like to know how best to handle the question?

  • Publish Date: Posted 9 months ago

It probably seems a strange question to be asked; why would an interviewer want you to admit to something you are not very good at in order to get a job? However, this is a very common question that interviewers deploy for that very reason – the strongest candidates will be able to handle a tricky situation like this in their stride and it’s a great way for would-be employers to see how you deal with potentially uncomfortable scenarios.

Firstly, it is important to remember that whilst it can be a tricky question, the interviewer is not trying to catch you out! They want to understand if you have the ability to recognise areas that are not your strengths and can identify how you can improve your own performance. To deliver an impressive answer to this question, there are a few dos and don’ts to consider.

  • Don’t say that you haven’t got any weaknesses. Everybody will have at least one weakness and to try and suggest you don’t have any will come across as disingenuous and arrogant to the interviewer

  • Don’t try and present a ‘strength’ as a weakness. For example; ‘I can be a bit of a perfectionist but that is because I have such a keen eye for detail’ - an interviewer will see this as you trying to avoid answering the question

  • Don’t offer a weakness that has little or no relevance to the role you are interviewing for; ‘I am not a very good cook’ doesn’t really matter if you are applying for a position in a finance team

  • Don’t put forward a weakness that could have a bearing on whether or not you are successful; if the job role states that strong IT skills are an essential criteria, don’t suggest that you struggle to grasp anything beyond the basics

  • Do consider where you have been able to overcome a particular weakness; for example if you have previously struggled to say no when colleagues or managers have asked you to take on additional tasks and this has had a negative effect on your ability to meet deadlines, describe how you addressed the issue and how you know handle similar situations

  • Do try to ensure that your ‘weakness’ is something that you have been able to identify yourself rather than something which has been pointed out to you; the interviewer is looking for you to outline what the weakness was/is, how it was impacting upon your work and what steps you have taken to improve in that area to demonstrate your proactivity and self-awareness.

Sharp Consultancy specialises in the recruitment of temporary, interim and permanent finance and accountancy professionals.  With offices in Leeds and Sheffield our highly experienced team of consultants recruit for positions throughout Yorkshire and beyond. CONTACT US today for expert advice on your next career move.