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• Friday, June 24th, 2011

First, ignore the conventional advice to state a weakness that’s really a positive job attribute, such as, “I’m a workaholic and I spend too many hours at work.” Interviewers have been hearing that for years, and they see right through it.

And the truth is, they are looking to see how you handle the question and what your response indicates about you.

The trick to answering this question is to identify a new skill you’re learning or planning to develop — something that is only a “weakness” because you haven’t yet mastered it.

Here’s a five-step response strategy for this question:

  1. Highlight your strengths for the position.
  2. Mention a new skill or area in which you are not yet as strong as you’d like to be (don’t use the word “weakness.”).
  3. Outline what you’re doing to master the new skill and overcome your so-called “weakness.”
  4. Describe how this new skill will improve your value to the company.
  5. Finish with a question that will redirect the interview back to your real strengths.

Here’s a fill-in-the-blanks template to help you start formulating your response:

While there are several strengths I bring to this position, including _______, _______, and _______, I would like to improve my knowledge of _______. In fact, I have been involved in _______ and _______ in an effort to master these skills. I feel this is important because it will allow me to deliver added results in the areas of _______. Would you like me to elaborate on these skills?

Did you notice the question at the end? Asking a question will make the interview more conversational, help you gain more control, and keep the interview from becoming an interrogation.

 

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