Interview skills - what are your weaknesses?

 

What are your weaknesses?

What are your development areas?

What skills are you currently developing?

 

Experienced interviewers ask this question, not to learn about the interviewees flaws, but to get a sense of their self-awareness and ability to learn. Even if this is asked by an inexperienced interviewer as a gotcha - it's a genuine opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate personal leadership.

Like every aspect of the interview, your answer requires thoughtful preparation; and I recommend it be built around skills or knowledge that you recognise you have consciously developed. Here are some sample answers.

Example Answer 1: 
Early in my career when I was promoted into a business analyst role, I became aware that my organisational skills were getting in the way of me being able to perform my job as effectively as I'd hoped. So I did some research with colleagues whose organisational skills I respected; and took on board the systems, tools and approaches they used to organise their activities. As a result, I experimented with various systems over a couple of months, and nailed a process that's been working well for me for the last 7 years. Whilst now I think it's unlikely anyone would describe me as disorganised, I'm still on alert to maintain a system that's worked well for me over the years. (NB: It's possible you will be asked a follow up question, so in this example, you must also be prepared to describe your organisational systems)

Example Answer 2:
A few years ago, in an annual performance review with one of my direct reports, I got feedback that I was micro-managing them, and they didn't feel like I trusted them. Initially I was surprised, but I recognised how my need for detail could be seen as micromanagement. I discussed it with my then Manager; she gave me some great insight into the need to balance my need for information with the team's need to have the autonomy (and respect) to do their job effectively. I spent some time working with my team to develop what was essentially a model we could all live with. I'm pleased to say that follow up reviews were far more satisfactory; and the feedback I receive now is on my ability to build good teams. I'm mindful that under stress I need to be mindful not to slip into old habits, but there hasn't been any problems since my mini intervention. Don't misunderstand me, I have no issues stepping in if there is a performance matter that needs to be addressed, what I am saying is that my team knows that I respect them and their skills and I give them the space to do their jobs to the best of their ability. (NB: It's possible you will be asked a follow up question about the framework you developed to monitor activity in a high-performance environment, or how you manage performance management conversations).

Example Answer 3:
I've recognised that in order to progress my career, I needed to have greater awareness of the impact of social media marketing. Previously it had not been on my radar, but after being asked a question about in a management meeting, I realised I needed to get up to get on top of it. I spent some time with our team to get a handle on our existing social media program, and began to take an active interest in what our competitors, and the marketplace generally, were doing in this space. I also did a digital marketing course at UTS with a direct report. This was not just to learn about social media theory and global trends, but also to interact with other students to get wider perspectives on the local market. This was a few years back, and I'm comfortable with our approach to social media engagement and marketing - but research is never-ending, and it's become a bit of a hobby horse of mine to stay on top of it. (NB: This answer begs for follow-up queries, so you will of course be able to discuss impact, theories, models and impact of the use of internal and external social media).

It goes without saying that your answers need to be truthful - and a reminder that even in the face of expert communicators, experienced interviewers have developed a third eye (or is it ear) to exaggerations, omissions and disingenuousness.

Good quality answers to this question reflect favourably on your thoughtfulness, ability to reflect on your career objectively and enthusiasm to learn as well as provide an opportunity to further demonstrate knowledge, skills and competence.


Image by Rodion Kutsaev, via Unsplash