What, would you say, is your greatest weakness?.No one likes admitting to weaknesses, but this is a favourite interview question, and one you need to be prepared for.
This is not the time to confess your deepest secrets or expose embarrassing mistakes you have made in previous jobs. You should choose an area in which you don’t have quite as much experience or confidence as you’d like – something which you will have the opportunity to work on in the job for which you are applying.
It should not be something which you are expected to have already mastered, but something which will be useful for the post and can be developed over time. If you will be expected to give regular presentations, for example, saying that you find this difficult won’t go down well. However, if this isn’t expected at your level, but would be once you’ve moved up the ladder, you might say that you find it a bit nerve wracking and could do with more practice.
Check the job description and person specification for essential and desirable skills and be sure to choose something which is non-essential. It could be that you are unfamiliar with a particular software package which only plays a small part in the job.
Once you have decided on your weakness, be sure to emphasize your willingness to improve and your awareness that you will have the opportunity to do so in the job.
And your greatest strength?.Many people have much more difficulty finding a strength than admitting to a weakness, but if you are asked to supply the latter, there is a good chance you’ll be asked for a strength as well. So be sure to prepare something.
Which aspects of your present job are you naturally good at?. Is there anything about your work which has been praised by managers or commented on by co-workers?.If you are just leaving college, which skills did you develop as a student or in other activities such as voluntary work – being a team player, researching information, communication skills?.You should also relate your chosen strength to the job you’re applying for. What is it that the interviewers want and that you know you can deliver?.Your strength needs to be based on reality and should be strong. This is your chance to shine, to bring your best qualities and abilities to the attention of the interviewers. Saying you’re quite good at working in a team won’t cut any ice. You must illustrate your team-working skills with an impressive example, something the panel will remember when they come to make their decision.
Preparation is the key to answering interview questions – make sure you do it.
© Waller Jamison 2005.