How to explain your weaknesses during an interview

Q. Just had a phone interview with someone from Chips Quinn. How can I better answer broad questions like: “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” without it seeming like I am dodging the question?

Kay

A. This is a standard job interview question, and you should have an answer to it. There is no need to dodge it. Let’s be honest — we all have weaknesses.

When you mention weaknesses, do not mention character flaws or personal traits: “I lie. I steal. I am just a little bit lazy.” These things seldom change.

Instead, mention areas where you have determined you need to grow your skills and are already working on that: “I need to get better at video and I just bought a sweet camera.” “My InDesign skills need a refresher course and hey, I am taking one.”

Do not try to use strengths as weaknesses: “I am a perfectionist. I take on too many stories. I am always helping the people around me.”

Describe actual weaknesses, but view them as skill deficiencies that you want to improve upon.

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  • Sue

    Another way to think about a weakness is to consider it a “lesser strength”. I think interviewers ask that question because they care more about HOW you respond versus what you say. So why not use it to your advantage and consider one of your strengths that is less obvious or defined and talk about that?

  • http://twitter.com/AvidCareerist Donna Svei

    Translate: Weakness = Skill Deficiency. I like this.

    However, avoid describing a “requirement” for the job. Pick a “would be nice” or something not on the job description but somewhat relevant to the job.

    Even better if you can follow with an example of how you’ve already overcome a skill deficiency. Example: I had the same situation [not knowing how to use it] with WordPress a year ago. I did X, Y, and Z to bring my skills up to speed. I just love tackling new software!”