We all want to put our best foot forward at the job interview. Yet, we are often asked that dreaded ‘weaknesses’ question where we are meant to disclose our faults. If we are asked to share our faults, how can we present them in a positive light? Should we even do that? Should we pick something inconsequential or something irrelevant to the work environment? Should we be doing something else? This article provides four tips on how to best discuss your faults at the job interview.
Tip 1: Acknowledge Your Faults
Your fault may be as simple as being a “night owl” and therefore finding it difficult to work at 9.00 a.m. the next business day. Your fault might be as simple as being a perfectionist or forthright or even guarded. Others may have told you that you are “too sensitive” or “too unfeeling”. You may have the fault of being a “people person” or a “loner”. Your faults may lie in time or project management. Your faults may also lie with having a personality or mental health concern.
There may be other faults that you identify within yourself. The best thing you can do is to openly and honestly acknowledge your faults. Interviewers ask this question to get a get a sense of your level of self-awareness as well as how well you will get along with existing staff.
Tip 2: Recognise the Conditions Under Which an Attribute Becomes a Fault
Your faults may become strength in different contexts, tasks or environments. Similarly, attributes that you normally consider to be a strength may be considered a fault in a different context, task or environment. So, being a night owl, for instance, may be a problem if you work a typical Monday to Friday 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. However, if you do evening work, then your night-owl nature may become a strength. In my youth, I discovered that my political allegiance became an unforgivable fault when I worked for a company that favoured a different political party.
Tip 3: What You Are Already Doing
Once you have shared your faults, you will need to continue by sharing the steps you have/are taking to address those same faults.
You can also speak to how you are placing yourself in environments where your faults become a strength. If you have always gotten in trouble at school for being a chatterbox, for instance, you could talk about choosing a profession or role where chatting becomes a virtue.
Tip 4: Handling Sensitive Faults
If your faults lie in a personality or mental health concern, those faults are likely to be very personal and very sensitive. It is up to you how much/how little you choose to disclose. However, the same principles remain. You might simply say “I have a problem with a mental health problem” (without needing to go into any details). You might then go on to say that you are currently seeing (or have seen) a psychologist to get some strategies to manage it. If you are still addressing this concern, you could give an indication of how far you have already come or how much further you have to go.
At the end of the day, you can speak openly and honestly about your faults, while simultaneously showcasing who you are and what you can do for a potential employer.