We are all aware of the dreaded “Tell me 3 of your main weaknesses” interview question, and despite many recruiters being told that this question tends to disrupt the flow of an interview – they still love to ask it! The main reason why such a provocative question is asked in a job interview, is to see how you react and whether you can ‘think on your feet’ in a pressured situation. If you are able to bounce back from the interview question with an insightful and interesting answer then all is well and you will likely have a successful interview. If you stumble and stutter your way through your answer however, it could be the end of line for you…
How to Answer the “Tell me 3 of Your Main Weaknesses” Question:
- Prepare your answer in advance – your response should ideally be at the tip of your tongue when asked the question (this shows you are prepared and able to think fast under pressure).
- Have a minimum of 4 weaknesses planned incase the recruiter asks you to think of another one last minute (a classic way to make you think on your feet).
- Turn your weaknesses into strengths and always leave your response on a high note (recruiters will remember the last thing you said to them).
Turning Your Weakness Into Strengths
Ok, so your first task is to determine which weaknesses you can identify with most and which you would be comfortable talking about in a job interview. You must bear in mind that you could be probed further on these weaknesses, so pick carefully!
List of popular weaknesses mentioned in a job interview
Once you have selected your 3 main weaknesses (these do not have to be from our list above), you then have to figure out a way of turning these weaknesses into strengths. Below is an example of how certain weaknesses can be portrayed as a strength to a recruiter.
1) Disorganised – turn this into being a ‘creative’ person. Whilst you can say that you work in a rather disorganized manner, it is because you like to keep your mind open and think outside the box at all times. The more organized and regimental you are with your routine, the less chance you have of being creative.
2) Emotionless – this could be construed as being ‘calm’ and ‘professional’ at work. You can say that whilst showing emotion may be good character building, it can also be disruptive to the workplace.
3) Unrealistic – rephrase your ‘unrealistic’ weakness into being ‘positive’. You can state that whilst some of your ideas or motivations may be slightly unrealistic, it is a sign of your positivity and optimistic thinking.
4) Negative – whilst no-one likes a negative person, you can turn this weakness around by stating that it is simply you being ‘realistic’ and pragmatic in decision making and brain storming tasks.
5) Arrogant – use this weakness lightly as recruiters are often wary of arrogance. You can state that you exude ‘self-confidence’, and because of this, you have excellent networking abilities.
6) Inflexible – this is an easy one to turn into a strength; simply state you are usually inflexible but this is because you are a ‘highly organized’ person who plans everything with precision and makes careful decisions.
7) Inconsistent – turn this weakness into a strength by stating that you are inconsistent because you are so ‘flexible’ in your approach to work. By being so flexible to new changes, ideas and processes, you could in some cases be perceived as being inconsistent.
8) Indecisive – whilst this can be a big turn off for recruiters, if you spin it the right way, you can effectively turn this weakness into a desirable character trait. State that you are ‘patient’ and a ‘careful thinker’, which means you tend to take longer to reach a decision about something.
9) Obnoxious – if you simply state that you are obnoxious, you won’t win any votes from recruiters. However, if you say that your ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘commitment’ to your job can often be mistaken for obnoxious behavior, then this will actually highlight you in a positive light to recruiters.
10) Shy – a shy character has no place in business and introvert personalities will often struggle in office environments where communication and confidence is key. However, if you state that you are more ‘reflective’ rather than shy, this will show to recruiters that you assess each situation before showing emotions or reacting.
There you have it. A solution to every weakness! You don’t need to use these typical weaknesses disguised as strengths to get you through your interview, in fact its best that you have ‘weaknesses’ that are truly tailored to your own experiences. If you are a fresh graduate and cannot draw on any real experiences, then go ahead and use the examples above!