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Interview questions about weaknesses can be some of the tougher questions to answer. Anticipating the interview question and preparing your answers ahead of time is a recommended approach. The more insight you have into your own personality, character and temperament, the better you will be able to articulate a persuasive response that works to your advantage in an interview.
Employers ask interview questions about weaknesses to gain insight into your personality, character and work ethic. While interviewers generally understand that revealing your greatest weaknesses in an interview is counterproductive to your goal of getting hired, they are interested in how you approach this question. Your answers will give the interviewer a window into how well you know yourself and how you deal with your shortcomings.
Effective answers to interview questions about weaknesses are those that highlight your humility, self-knowledge and the desire to improve your character and skills. If your eagerness to complete your work quickly has resulted in errors in the past, for example, you might express this and explain that you are learning to work more slowly so that you can be more thorough. If you lack knowledge in a particular area of your profession, you might express that and explain that you plan to take classes to remedy the problem.
In general, persuasive answers to interview questions about weaknesses are those that remove the interviewer's doubts about your ability to effectively do the job. In addition to demonstrating self-awareness and humility, you want to anticipate any weaknesses that the interview might perceive and address those concerns. If you are younger than many of the employees at the company, for example, you might acknowledge that your age might be perceived as a weakness, but emphasize that you are inspired by situations that require you to work harder to meet expectations.
When answering interview questions about weaknesses, you want to avoid certain types of responses. Telling an interviewer that you do not have any weaknesses indicates a lack of humility since it is generally understood that no human being is perfect. Alternatively, saying that you cannot think of an answer might give the interviewer the impression that you do not know yourself well enough.
You will want to limit your answers to interview questions about weaknesses to those that are related to performance on the job. It is not necessary to bring up challenges that would not impact your work performance and which are too personal. Weaknesses in personal relationships, for example, should not be discussed, even if you feel they are insightful for how you have grown as a person. Limiting the discussion to the academic or professional environment will give the interviewer an indication that you have sound judgment.
It would be interesting to hear what some HR people have to add to this.