When a weakness is a “challenge”

The most common inquiry I’ve gotten from job-seekers over the years has got to be, “how do I give the ‘right’ answer to interview questions? Each time, my reply is pretty much the same; if you approach these questions strategically yet honestly you’ll earn an employer’s respect.

For example, when approaching the interview question,

“What is your greatest weakness(es)?”

Don’t say:

“I work too hard” or “I’m too detail oriented” (unless that’s true in which case… lucky you!)

Believe it or not, most hiring managers don’t appreciate these kinds of answers. Not only do they seem dishonest but you’ll end up sounding like a total brown-noser! In this economy most employers don’t want “yes” men but rather innovators, besides if they really just wanted “yes” men would you want to work for them anyway?

Do say:

“I don’t have as much experience working with ABC computer program as I’d like given that I didn’t have the opportunity to do so at my last position”

The key is in the approach, instead of thinking of “weaknesses” view the question as referring to “challenges” that way you are less likely to fall into the trap of talking about character traits, which are seen as unchangeable and instead focus on skills, which are learned. Be careful however, you don’t want to say you aren’t good at using Microsoft Excel or Access for a data entry job; instead pick a real skill that is not extremely applicable to the position.

Then make sure you include in your answer how you’re overcoming these “challenges.” Use examples such as taking a course, reading a book, doing an online tutorial, it really doesn’t matter, the important part is that you are being proactive, adaptable and feel a desire to fill important gaps in your knowledge.

Now “challenge” yourself to handle those tricky interview questions with aplomb!

Elaine Logie is a Career Consultant Certificate student and MCACES Blogger. MCACESBlogs is resource created by the MCACES Employment Advisement Program for job seekers, career practitioners and peers. Like what you read? Be sure to follow our blog or become part of our MCACES community, http://www.facebook.com/mcaces, http://www.twitter.com/mcaces.Image

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