4 Rules for Answering Tough Interview Questions
Rob Taub | CAREEREALISM
Here are three other rules I suggest you follow:
Rule #2 – No Superlatives!
Keep it singular. Superlatives such as “weakest” or “worst” or “biggest” indicate the greatest degree of whatever is it describing. “Worst weakness” is the weakness of the highest degree implying there are other weaknesses of varying degrees but weaknesses nonetheless. That begs the question “what are some others?” Likewise, “need most to improve” implies there are others areas for improvement. In any case, try this as an alternative: “If I had to come up with one…” (No negatives; no multiples).
Rule #3 – No Absolutes!
The absolute, as in “my weakness is…” states the weakness exists unconditionally: Utterly fixed and not likely to change. WOW! Wouldn’t it be better to be a little less restrictive, something more conditional like “it could be I am…” Conditional responses suggest you yourself are not completely convinced of it. This type of response also accomplishes what the bungling technique of using a “strength” to describe a weakness consistently fails to achieve – that your “weakness” may not be a weakness after all.
Rule #4 – Keep it Real!
Your “weakness” should be one (singular) that is subjective – of your person. Humanize it!
“If I had to come up with one (singular) it might be (non-absolute) somewhat (qualifier) of a lack of internal patience (human). I seem (unconvinced) to have strong tendencies to expect the same from others I do from myself (human). Not just in terms of results – I’m smart enough to realize not everyone has the same level of skill, abilities and education (real)…I do however, expect others to give their best effort, and if that’s not there, then yes, that might (conditional) bother me to some degree.”
Ah! “bother me to some degree” is human, non-absolute, qualifier, and conditional. Don’t you love it?! Another tact, similarly keeping it real, could be an incident resultant of some area where improvement was needed (potential weakness) that turned out to be a learning experience and later grew into a personal asset, thus giving you, once more, an opportunity to showcase strength.
Do your homework. Think critically and be honest with yourself. Ask friends or colleagues the same: Critically and honestly, what they think may be your one weakness. When you have the answer, internalize it. In other words, take it to heart. If you don’t, your response may come across like a sound bite, no matter how long and hard you practice sounding unpracticed. When you speak from the heart, you won’t sound “rehearsed,” you will sound “aware” – conscious of yourself, a characteristic we all value.
This article was originally published on CAREEREALISM.com.