An effective way of dealing with the weakness question is to locate the weakness (preferably a skills deficiency) at some time in the past and then describe the steps you took to overcome it (similar to overcoming shortcomings, see above). The idea is that you show the interviewer that you are able to overcome your weaknesses. It’s also good to try to finish your answer on a positive note. Here’s what an exchange may sound like.
Question: Tell us about your weaknesses
When I was working for Chaos several years ago, one of my weaknesses was in the area of making presentations to clients and internal staff. Not that my presentations were disasters— far from it—but they lacked the polish of other more experienced presenters. So I approached a presenter whose style I admired and asked her if she could give me some tips on how I could improve my skills. Fortunately, she was very happy to help me, including sitting in one of my presentations and giving me feedback about my weaknesses. I took her feedback on board and made several changes, which led to my presentations improving significantly.
If the interviewer is not happy with this type of answer because it fails to talk about a current weakness, simply provide a skills-based weakness that is not going to undermine your chances of winning the job—in other words, a weakness that is not very relevant to the job.
An effective way of getting yourself accustomed to using positive language is to practice using positive statements before the interview. Make a list of positive statements relevant to your situation and start saying them aloud. You may feel a little awkward in the beginning, but repetition will soon take care of that. Keep on practicing until you feel very comfortable. Here are some beginnings to help you get started:
- I can definitely do/finish/write/analyse . . .
- I am confident about . . .
- I feel very comfortable at the prospect of . . .
- I am very secure in the knowledge that . . .
- I feel at ease about doing all those things you mentioned . . .
- I am positive about taking on . . .