Perhaps the most dreaded question in job interviews is the one regarding weaknesses.
I could go on for hours about my strengths, but I always used to cringe whenever recruiters or interviews would ask about my weaknesses. It’s not that I believe I’m perfect or infallible; granted, I’m perfectly aware of my flaws. However, I would always be afraid to give an answer that might work against me in the hiring manager’s final selection process.
I can promise you that every recruiter has heard “I’m a perfectionist” or “I’m a workaholic” as a response to “What are some of your weaknesses?,” and will quickly pass you up upon hearing those responses.
No matter how qualified for a specific position you are, there is always room for improvement. Even if your weaknesses pose a challenge for your day-to-day work life, there is usually a way to put a positive spin on your shortcomings. Below are a few of my character flaws I’m willing to admit, along with an explanation on how to make each weakness appear useful to your work environment.
1. “I’m stubborn.” – I like to think I give fairly good advice, however, I am very cautious of whom I take advice from. Recently, I shared a podcast with a friend, the subject of which was how to give your resume a make-over. After he listened to it, he told me “Wait, these tips are almost the exact same ones I gave to you.”
I replied to him by saying, “Well, the lady who hosts this podcast works in HR, and it helps to hear directly from the source. ”
I could tell he was upset by my need for validation from someone other than him, but what can I say? I’m stubborn and usually won’t take a piece of advice unless I hear similar things from multiple people. I always need about three or four opinions on something before I actually go about handling it.
Albeit somewhat problematic, this trait of mine could be useful in the workplace, as it shows that I don’t finalize a work related project without the prior approval of multiple people. It also exemplifies my thoroughness and my consideration for other people’s feelings, suggestions, and ideas, as well as my ability to handle criticism.
2. “I set high expectations for myself and get frustrated when everyone else doesn’t meet them.” – In the scenario in which my friend was upset with me for not immediately taking his advice, I feel I had good reason not to. On multiple occasions, said friend has told me that he forgoes writing cover letters on job applications. His reasoning for this is “a lot of recruiters don’t read them anyway.”
This kind of mentality frustrates me. I have every right to be hesitant about taking career advice from someone who doesn’t even bother to write a cover letter.
Also, when I was in college, it also used to annoy me when people would humorously tweet about needing a 90% on a final exam just to receive a passing grade in a class. Granted, we all had our challenging classes, but one’s academic struggles should be taken seriously, and not be shared via social media as if they’re cute or quirky and deserving of likes or retweets.
I know that other people’s shortcomings and bad habits are none of my business, however, I am always determined to be at my best. I refuse to settle for anything less than quality.
3. “I sometimes find it difficult to give criticism.” – As I mentioned in my first point, I like to think I give good advice, however, I believe a lot of people seek my advice simply because I tend to word things in a polite manner. I am a strong proponent of a “tough love” approach, but I may put too much emphasis on the “love” part. I never want drama or tension in the workplace, so whenever someone’s work isn’t up to par, I tend to tiptoe around people’s feelings and give them advice in a friendly manner. Because I try to be nice, this sometimes results in my peers and colleagues not taking my advice seriously.
I realize that while it is important to be conscious of other people’s feelings, I also must understand that we are all responsible for delivering quality work. In the future, when dishing out criticism, I will continue to be respectful to my colleagues, however, I will also be honest, even if what I say isn’t what they want to hear.