More interviews are lost by candidates due to their in- ability
to effectively answer questions concerning their major weaknesses
(sometimes described as "areas for improvement") than
any other area of the employment interview. Sometimes the "weaknesses"
area is well-disguised by the employer by virtue of the form
the question takes, nonetheless, the questions are the same.
Here are several ways the employer may elect to ask you about
- What do you feel are your major weaknesses?
- What has been your single most significant work-related
failure to-date? Why?
- All of us have areas in which we could improve our overall
performance. What are some areas in which you could improve?
- From a work-related standpoint, what is your biggest shortcoming
- What areas has your boss suggested for your improvement?
- As you view your qualifications for this position, what
do you feel might be some of your development needs?
- What would you most like to improve about yourself and why?
- What steps have you taken to improve your overall performance,
- What self-improvements could you make that would enhance
your overall value to a company?
- During a reference check, what areas will likely be suggested
by others as areas for your improvement?
- During past performance reviews, what areas have been identified
- In what ways could you improve your overall job performance?
- In what ways could you improve your effectiveness with others?
- What would you cite as the three areas of your performance
that could most be improved?
- What aspects of your current position could be better performed,
and what improvement is most needed?
- If we asked two or three of your co-workers to identify
the three areas in which you could most improve, what would
- If you could, what two or three things would you most like
to change about yourself to improve your work effectiveness,
- What steps have you taken during the last year to improve
your overall performance?
- In what ways could you improve your interpersonal effectiveness
- How could you most improve your overall capability?
- What factors have most stood in the way of your career success
The Classic Answers
You will see how the damage can be minimized
when answering the questions in the "weaknesses"
1. "My two greatest job-related weaknesses are that I tend
to be highly focused and results-oriented. Sometimes in
my zeal to get things done I am not always as sensitive
as I might be to the fact that others don't always have
the same sense of urgency as I have. Some, therefore,
may see me as "pushy." Others, however, would
tell you that they like my positive attitude and enthusiasm."
2. "The area I would most like to improve is my written communications
skills. Although this has certainly not been an area of
major concern, it is an area in which I would like to
improve. I did take a creative writing workshop back in
January, however, and know that I have experienced some
improvement in this area. I am also looking into some
writing courses at the Community College and plan to enroll
this fall, workload permitting."
3. "Although I know my boss is quite satisfied with my overall
performance, one area suggested for improvement during
my last performance review is my tendency to sometimes
be too brief in report writing. This has certainly not
been an area of major concern, since I know my boss has
every confidence in my technical competence and the quality
of my work. What I'm learning, however, is that my boss
needs better documentation of what I am doing in the
project for his own protection in the event something
were to happen to me. I can't blame him for that, so I
am making a real effort to give him what he needs."
You can see by both the choice of topics and the way they are
handled in the interview, these examples demonstrate how effectively
the "weaknesses" question can be managed by a well-prepared
employment candidate. In fact, with some careful planning, these
difficult questions can be handled with relative ease and can
often be turned into positive impressions, especially if you
have already taken steps to improve yourself in the areas you
cite for improvement.