How do I deal with weaknesses in the interview?

The long-awaited message for an interview finally flutters in – at the same time, many applicants become nervous: “How do I deal with weaknesses in the interview?” It is clear that companies want the best and of course they want every applicant present themselves from their best side. It is also clear that nobody can do everything. So how do you present your own weaknesses in such a way that you don’t knock yourself out?

Wie gehe ich mit Schwächen im Vorstellungsgespräch um?

Why is-asked about weaknesses?

The question of one’s own weaknesses is a bit mean, after all, the focus should be more on what an applicant can do and not what he or she cannot. And so some candidates fear, not without good reason, that the question of the weaknesses could prove to be an own goal.

A company usually expects a lot from hiring a new employee. He should relieve other colleagues , bring new ideas and ultimately contribute to the success of a company – no more and no less.

At the same time, a new hiring always means a risk. If it turns out during the probationary period that the personnel selection has been carried out too superficially and the new employee is a wrong choice, a lot of money and time have been invested in vain been. And of course every company wants to keep such losses as low as possible.

In order to find out exactly whether someone is a good fit for the company and whether their strengths are really as excellent as stated in the résumé, it is important to put the applicant to the test. The decisive factor here is whether an applicant not only knows about their own shortcomings, but does something about it.

How do companies ask about weaknesses?

The question about the weaknesses can be done in different ways – very directly or rather hidden, in that you should either reflect other people’s assessments of your person or reflect more generally on weaknesses.

Examples are the following questions:

  • Direct: Tell us where you see your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Indirectly: How would others describe you?
  • Reflective: Which characteristics would you like to change in yourself?
  • Assessing: On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate yourself with regard to [indicating a required skill]?

Stations in your résumé can also turn out to be supposed weaknesses in the interview. For a long time, the ideal was (and is for some employers) a straight job biography, the so-called chimney career. HR managers thought they recognized particularly consistent and determined personalities in the applicant.

The reality of life is often different: companies go bankrupt, changes in the personal environment and different ideas about what work means lead to breaks and gaps in the CV.

Questions about dropping out of studies or changing jobs are never used to expose an applicant. Rather, they want to get a picture of you and understand your motivation. You should therefore be able to justify plausibly how and why you made which decision. And also what experiences you have gained from it, which you can now use profitably in your new job.

Why is-it-so-difficult-to-talk about it?

Many applicants find it difficult to talk about their own weaknesses. This has to do with two things:

  • Lack of self-reflection

    Young school leavers and graduates in particular simply lack the exercise, they have often not dealt with their own strengths and weaknesses enough. But this is necessary in order to be able to deal with criticism later.

  • Positive self-image

    Most people have a predominantly positive self-image and naturally want to be perceived that way. Who can admit that over time they are at war and tend to be unpunctual? Too great the fear that the weaknesses could dominate the strengths.

And that’s what it’s ultimately about. How can you answer the question about weaknesses without bending the truth too much, but at the same time not destroying the painstakingly built self-presentation? Above all, the art is not to fall back on the well-known and therefore hackneyed phrases.

No HR manager believes this anyway, so you only document a certain preparation for the interview, but not a self-critical examination of your abilities. Just as wrong (and unrealistic) would of course be to pretend you have no weaknesses.

Which answers should I avoid?

First a negative example. When asked about your weaknesses, you should avoid “I am very perfectionist”. Several years ago this answer was recommended as a weakness in application guides. Subtext: “I do my work incredibly conscientiously, with me you get top quality.”

Zack, supposed weakness sold as strength, job in your pocket – right?

The problem with this answer is that it can hardly be authentic because it has come from many other applicants. In addition, perfectionism and time management often block each other. Those who easily get lost in small and small by no means show a strong sense of quality, but often fall behind with their deadlines.

An absolute no-go are weaknesses that are relevant to the position. If you want to work as a call center agent in outbound, you shouldn’t have any difficulties with acquisition. A high degree of extrovertedness is often required in sales – an applicant who is particularly shy and introverted would be disqualified with these characteristics.

Not very promising, too, to take the whole thing with humor and to answer the question about weaknesses in the interview with “I love shoes” or “Cute cat videos” to answer. At this point, seriousness and self-reflection are required.

With all justified self-criticism, you should of course not overdo it and now bring out all the quirks that you have acquired in the course of your life or that any employer has ever criticized of you. Leave it to one or two weaknesses.

How can I name-my-weaknesses?

You can deal well with your weaknesses if you deal with them constructively. In other words: You are aware of certain weaknesses, but since you take action against them, you keep yourself within limits. This underpins your ability to be self-critical and shows a solution-oriented approach.

But as is so often the case, you yourself like to be blind. Solid preparation for the interview will help you avoid such cliffs. With these four tips you can adequately present your weaknesses:

  • Scour your résumé for areas that require explanation and think in advance how you can explain any gaps or breaks.
  • If you don’t want to think of weaknesses when preparing for the interview, you should ask colleagues, family and friends for an honest assessment – a different perspective is also valuable if you already know some weaknesses yourself.
  • Make a list and compare the collected weaknesses with the requirement profile – which you should definitely not mention and which are harmless enough. Remove the obvious obstructive weaknesses. The harmless button up.
  • In the next step, think about what you could do about this weakness . Example: You hate a hectic environment, you need quiet to concentrate on your work, but most likely you will not get an individual office. Solution: You work with earplugs and / or anti-sonic headphones.

Keep in mind that naming the weaknesses should not become a soul striptease. It is important to explain it briefly – preferably with a certain relativization such as “In individual cases it has happened” or “I am occasionally …” – but don’t put the big time focus on it.

In addition, weaknesses always represent properties . This means that they can appear differently depending on the situation. There are always two sides of the same coin. In doing so, reflect on where a weakness has already given you an advantage, but why you still want to work on it.

Please keep in mind that these examples are just reflection and should by no means be taken over one-to-one and memorized. It would look bad if you made exactly the same arguments as one of your competitors …

Rather, these examples serve to help you find your own way to illustrate and prove weaknesses in the job interview and to show how to deal with them.

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