The Interview – Don't become a 10 second victim

This is certainly one of those questions everyone hates in an interview. You know it’s coming at some point during the process. Is it a trick question, a ‘trap’ question, a question to see if you’re honest or just a question they interview has to ask because it’s on a sheet of questions they need to ask.

In reality, it does not matter. The truth is you need to know your weaknesses and strengths ahead of time and prepare for this question. So do you know your weaknesses? Second, do you know why you have those weaknesses?

Before I give you the answer, here’s a story about Ben Franklin. As a young man, Little Ben wanted to ensure he was successful in life. He wrote down a number of weaknesses he felt needing correction: smoking, cussing, drinking, being obstinate, womanizing, and others. He diligently worked on correcting one per month, and only one.

In January, he focused on not cussing. He knew the basic law of human nature that you can create or break most habits if you do it routinely over 30 straight days. So over a period of one year he corrected many of his bad habits. Those he didn’t feel strong enough about, I don’t think he corrected. Can you guess from the list above which he didn’t correct?

Now let’s talk about you. I am going to give you a rule you can use in the interview and I’ll tell you how but first…. Hopefully you’ve thought your weaknesses out. Now write them down. Do you have several written down? Go get a pencil and do this before going forwards in this article.

The Golden Rule of Weaknesses is this: “A strength overused tends to become a weakness”.

Look at your list. Let’s assume you are

a) strong-willed, b) overly detailed and analytical, c) condascending.

First of all, you would not say these in an interview but you knowing what I’m going to tell you will help you determine your answer. Why do you have the weaknesses above? Probably because your strengths are:

1. You are a detailed person who generally is very detailed so does not make many mistakes. You review and analyze the fine details to ensure things are done correctly.

2. You are very confident in your decisions as you are analytical so you are pretty strong-willed in the outcome (if you’ve had a chance to study it).

3. You come across condescending at times because you perceive others as making silly assumptions and making decisions without the facts. You politely inform them they are wrong or they should read the directions or map before taking action.

It works with anything:

Your Weakness is Aggressive. Your Strength is your Take Charge and Winning Attitude. Your Weakness is you are Forgetful. Your Strength is you tend to move quickly and get a lot of things done. You are Disorganized. Your Strength is you multi-task and can do a lot in a short period of time. Your Weakness is you are talkative. Your strength is you are outgoing and lots of people like you.

Okay so now to the question, “So Tell Me About Your Weakness”

Answer: ” Science has proven that a persons strength overused tends to become a weakness at times. Let me describe my strengths to you…I’m a take-charge individual who tends to get a lot of things accomplished. I’m often given a lot of responsibility because I tend to get the job done. My biggest weakness because of my strengths are that sometimes I will take on a lot so trying to manage that into my time and ensuring I prioritize all my responsibilities correctly is how I need to fix that when it happens. So daily I…”

And that dear readers is how you get yourself out of that slippery slope. Always start by defining your strengths. Lead into how that tends to become a weakness, but because you recognize it you fix it by doing something. Feel free to practice this technique (and it’s true) and they’ll remember your strengths and you start a very interesting conversation with that one sentence.

BoomersNextStep Guest Author

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