Why ask the question 'What are your weaknesses?'

Why would an interviewer ask the question 'What are your weaknesses?'

Who would answer that truthfully? To me it just seems a silly question and I am sure to people appearing for interviews it must seem the same.

And yet, a lot, and I mean a lot of interviewers ask this question. Are they doing it because they saw someone else do it or is it just a form of habit?

It could be that, but it could also be more.

There is a growing awareness of something we call 'Blind Spots'. These are essentially gaps in our self-knowledge that affect our work, our relationships etc.

These are things that we do not know, that we do not know.

So lets say someone gets agitated every time you challenge their thought or idea. But if you ask them if they are receptive to feedback, they say they are and very much so. This is a blind spot. Not knowing yourself or not knowing what ails you, affects you, your performance and your team is 'blind spot'.

The interview question 'What are your weaknesses?' is aimed at these blind spots. The premise is that if you know something you may still be able to do something about it, however, if you are in the dark (unaware) of your own shortcomings, it may be very difficult to change that behaviour or attitude.

Hence the question. The question looks to check your awareness of yourself, your candour and your willingness to acknowledge and improve your own weaknesses.

EXAMPLES

Here are some examples

From what I know, this job is essentially a technical one, but does require some degree of public speaking.  I have to confess I am not very comfortable with that, but have been taking sessions to improve that part of me.

So How to answer 'What are your weaknesses?'

The strategy that I would suggest is the following:

1. prepare a list of attributes you think the job you are applying for needs.

2. check your own preparedness against those attributes

3. The attributes that you think you lack in, becomes your weakness.

Remember, and the end of the day, the interviewer wants someone for the job not for friendship.  Personal things like 'I hate hypocrites' or 'I don't think I will ever understand the popularity of Twilight' are of no use to the interviewer.

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Weaknesses - Examples - List

  • Fearful
  • Obstructive
  • Pushy
  • Loose-tongued
  • Mistrustful
  • Undisciplined
  • Sloppy
  • Rude
  • Contemptuous
  • Short-sighted
  • Passive
  • Aggressive
  • Bossy
  • Chaotic
  • Cynical
  • Blunt
  • Stand-offish
  • Vague
  • Inflexible
  • Moody
  • Indifferent
  • Intolerant
  • Wasteful
  • Stubborn
  • Reckless
  • Inhibited
  • Naive
  • Greedy
  • Fanatical
  • Dull
  • Arrogant
  • Lazy
  • Selfish
  • Complaining
  • Impatient
  • Hard
  • Shallow
  • Strict
  • Shy
  • Prejudiced

P.S. Please do not use these to describe yourself in an interview.  Use these to test yourself and find your true weaknesses so that you can do something about them.