While researching ideas for the book, I did a Google search for "strengths and weaknesses". The majority of the results were instructions on how to properly answer the interview question, "What is one of your weaknesses?"
The advice varies, but falls into three basic categories.
- Tell them about a weakness that you have already improved and explain your plan for continued improvement. For example, you could explain that you struggle with new technology, but have started playing a lot of online video games to help you get more comfortable with computers and the internet.
- Discuss a weakness that is unrelated to the job. For example, in an interview for a job in construction, you could admit to having poor computer skills or body odor or a habit of yelling inappropriate comments at attractive women.
- Focus on a weakness that has an upside for the company. For example, you can confess that you work too hard and are so committed to the company that you don't ever take time to relax. Describing yourself as a suck-up or major brown-noser might also be helpful.
My advice is a little different. Be honest, and, in the spirit of flaunting your weaknesses, give the interviewer more than they asked for. Don't just share one weakness. Give them a list.
Why? Because all of this other advice seems to assume that you have something to hide from the interviewer and that you are trying to keep them from discovering who you really are. If you are successful, then you'll be "rewarded" with a job and a boss that assume you don't have any relevant weaknesses or that you are willing and able to fix any of your weaknesses. Is that the kind of job that you want? Don't you want to avoid work that focuses on your limitations? Do you really want a job that requires you to be something that you aren't? Don't you want a boss that both knows and accepts your weaknesses and their corresponding strengths?
So, in the spirit of full disclosure, here is my list (please don't send it to my boss) :-)
- Not a team player
- Don't like to be told what to do
- Poor listener
- Can't sit still
- Talk too much
- Talk too loud
- Get too excited
- Not good with details
Ouch! Sometimes even I wonder how I stay employed. The answer is simple. I look for work that rewards me for who I am and doesn't require me to work in my areas of weakness, at least not very often.
So, what is your list? Do you think you could share it with a potential employer? How about starting by sharing it with a good friend or a spouse? They might have a few weaknesses to add, but they might also be able to help you think of jobs that fit your unique qualities. Let me know what you come up with.