In all my years of interview coaching this is the number one question that everyone despises, and I mean everyone. It makes sense that we hate it. In an interview, we’re giving it our all to make ourselves seem perfect for the job. We all fear that giving the wrong answer could cost us the job. We wonder how to give a safe answer in a tough situation.
The good news:
It’s not as much about what you answer, as it is about how you answer.
Most people stress out about coming up with the right answer for this question. Unfortunately, most people make the mistake of following bad advice from a well-meaning friend to spin a strength, disguise it as a weakness, and still make yourself look good. Like the common, “I am such a hard worker, so my expectations of others may be too high. I mean, I shouldn’t really expect everyone to work as hard as me.” Ugh, gag. Nobody is buying it. Or maybe the, “I’m a perfectionist. I take on too much because I want it done right.” This approach never works. It won’t come across as genuine, and the hiring manager starts to wonder what you might be hiding.
Managers and leaders of teams are busier than ever in today’s world. They are juggling multiple things at any given time just like those they manage. They don’t have the time, nor the desire, to micromanage their team.
In an interview, they want to know:
- Do you have a good amount of self-awareness?
- Are you able to self-coach?
- Do you take action?
This is an opportunity to impress. Guaranteed if you use this formula, you will be one of the only, if not the only candidate who stands out by being authentic in this moment; refreshing. While everyone else is spinning a web of stories, you’ll be demonstrating that you have keen self-awareness, are always looking for ways to improve, and that you’re willing to take action to make things happen.
Preparing to answer this question:
- I love to have clients start out with a positive statement. It helps create a positive energy internally instead of the inner panic most people feel when trying to answer this question. Make your this first statement general, and highlight something you are proud of, or grateful for, in your work.
- Pick something that you’d genuinely like to improve. Make sure whatever you say won’t raise a red flag, leaving them questioning your ability to do this job.
- This step is crucial. Decide what steps you can begin taking to improve the weakness you chose.
- Can you take a class?
- Find a mentor?
- Read a book?
- Find an online course with Udemy?
- Work with a coach?
- Begin taking whatever action you chose to improve your weakness. It’s important to be authentic when telling someone the action you’re taking to improve yourself. You need to be doing whatever it is you say you’re doing. Imagine if you say you are taking a course, and it just happens to be something they took.
- Start with a positive statement that includes your desire for growth and personal development.
- Give something specific that you would like to improve and are currently focused on.
- Describe the action (book, course, working with a coach) you are taking to improve yourself.
“Well, I feel really fortunate that I’ve been able to create a lot of success during my career, but I’m always looking for ways to grow, to be better than I was yesterday.
One area that I’m currently working on is public speaking. I’m comfortable in front of small groups, but I tend to get nervous in front of larger groups. I know that if I can improve my ability in front of larger groups I’ll be more effective in my role.
I was looking at different ways to improve this, and decided to join my local Toastmasters club. I actually gave my first speech last week. I received very helpful feedback. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but the group is really supportive and dynamic, I know they’re going to continue to push me.”
“Well, I’ve always been thankful that I’ve been able to create success with my teams over the years. I think one of the reasons for that is because I’m always looking for ways to grow and improve myself and my ability.
One area that I’m currently working to improve is my ability to work with excel. As a sales manager, I feel like being able to share data trends with my reps will be both insightful and motivating.
Everyone at our company is already spread thin, so I enrolled in a course with Udemy called Microsoft Excel, Advanced Training, so that I will be able to create the kinds of reports that I believe will be most helpful. It’s a self-paced course and I’m about halfway through. I’ve already learned a lot, some of which I never imagined being able to do myself. “
If, in reading this post, you feel you could use help discovering and understanding the true value you have to offer a future employer, verbalizing your value in an interview, or learning powerful strategies to uncover a hiring manager’s true needs, (to get to the heart of the matter instead of focusing on the long list of qualifications,) I’d love to help.