During your job interview, most savvy employers will focus the conversation on your strengths and the skills and talents you might be able to offer to the organization. They might ask you specific questions about your readiness for the role and your experience with similar types of work in the past. But some interviewers like to take the conversation in a direction that’s a bit negative (and often confusing for both parties). If this happens, your interviewer may ask you to “describe your weaknesses,” or even share a few reasons why the company shouldn’t hire you.
If you have no idea how to answer this question, you’re not alone. Very few candidates do. And even when candidates gamely step up to the plate, they tend to offer answers that don’t have much value, like “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m so focused on my work that I sometimes forget to eat and sleep, ha ha!” If you hear this question during your session, keep a few things in mind.
Don’t freeze up.
Don’t stare at your interviewer in puzzled silence. Say anything you like, but after taking a short moment to consider your answer, speak. If you don’t want to talk about your weaknesses to someone who’s likely to hold them against you, simply talk about your strengths. Reiterate all the reasons why you’re perfect for this role.
Read between the lines.
If your interviewer seems forthright and honestly interested in learning more about you, flaws and all, then interpret this question as it’s probably intended. Ask if there are any specific resume concerns your interviewer would like to address, and if she points out an apparent gap or a lack of experience with a certain skill set, address that concern directly.
“I just don’t think I see a match”
If your interviewer states directly that you may not be right for the position, don’t get defensive, and don’t rush to desperately allay any and all possible concerns that you imagine they may have. Simply state that you disagree, explain why, and ask your interviewer to be a little more specific about their doubts so that you have the opportunity to address them directly.
Addressing “mistakes” from your past.
If you’re asked to describe or explain an event from your past, like a job loss, a long resume gap, a lost client, or anything else, collect your thoughts before you speak. As you tell your story, tell the truth, but make sure you also explain how you recovered from the incident, what you learned, and how the experience helped you grow.
For more on how to ace your interview and land the job that’s right for you, reach out to the Little Rock staffing team at CSS.