8 Top Tips to Preparing for your Next Job Interview and the ‘Weakness’ Questions

In this article, we explore the best ways in which you can prepare for a job interview and the tricky "tell us about your weaknesses" questions, most effectively. Written by Letícia Miranda.

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Anyone looking for a job knows how difficult it can be to expose strengths and weaknesses to a recruiter or employer. Leadership skills, ease of communication, perfectionism and anxiety all tend to appear frequently in responses, but they are by no means the key to opening a door in the increasingly disputed and competitive jobs market. Knowing both your own skills and flaws and keeping in mind the characteristics expected by any organisation are vital to defeating the competition, experts say.

Answering the age-old question "What are your weaknesses?" in a job interview is an exceedingly difficult task. What an employer really wants to understand when they ask you this is, how good is an individual at overcoming obstacles. "Will this candidate be able to adapt and improve?" For an employer or recruiter, it is important to know if constructive criticism will have any effect, or if a professional will improve fewer positive points.

Do not get nervous. Learn how to talk about your weaknesses, according to Forbes. Far easier said than done. Nerves get the better of a lot of interviewees, but they can cost you. So, try and work hard to keep a cool head. Below are some suggested ways to achieve this.

The selection process is an opportunity for the organisation to get to know you and your professional characteristics. And that involves not only technical knowledge, but also human interaction and interpersonal skills. So, when you are evaluated with subjective questions, these behavioural attributes are being analysed. In the case of weakness, the responses end up being a way to assess your understanding of yourself, among other things. A company or organisation wants to understand your view of yourself and whether you are sincere enough in your response - which will be compared with other information, such as the evaluator's own perception during the interview, combined, in some cases, with behavioural analysis tool and techniques.

Fortunately, the jobs market is evolving in several aspects, including recruiters and the improvement of candidates during interviews, such as assessment tools (behavioural competence analysis tests), case studies and videos, through which it is possible to observe much of the cultural adherence and the behavioural skills and competences of the professionals.

Below are some tips that should help you to better prepare for your next job interview.

Understand Your Own Profile
You can do this based on feedback you have received in your latest formal performance appraisal (if you’ve had one recently). If you have never had any kind of performance appraisal within a previous organisation or you are starting work for the first time, it is worth asking for a sincere opinion from current leaders, friends, or former managers. Ask them about what they feel your strengths are and what needs to be worked on. Having this broad view of oneself is important both to performing well in selection processes and throughout working life.

Know the Job and the Organisation
Every organisation has an organisational culture, whether or not it is documented. At the same time, every job has core and key main requirements. To succeed in a job interview, you need to get to know the organisation, its culture, values, and mission well before applying. You also need to know the job’s requirements extremely well. This is NOT the same thing as being able to do the job well (in a lot of cases you will learn this whilst in the role). But understanding what is expected of you and ultimately why the organisation is hiring for that role are going to stand you in great stead for the interview.

Don’t be Afraid of Discussing Weakness
Weaknesses are just as important as strengths. The employer or recruiter's intention is not to harm, intimidate or catch you out. They want to know more about you and understand your degree of self-knowledge and transparency, combined with how you will respond when put under pressure and when being asked a tricky question. It can be a positive experience and a win for you, if you can say what practical attitudes you have adopted to evolve in areas of weakness.

Be Purposeful
When talking about qualities and traits that you want to improve, discuss the steps you have taken to improve yourself. In some cases, you can also cite examples of how you have faced difficulties and overcome them.

Consider Behavioural Testing
A great way to learn more about yourself, your personality, your strengths, and your weaknesses is through behavioural testing. Not sure where to start? Why not try the disc test and the MBTI. The Disc is a profile test that can change over time, it brings a situational assessment that, based on the evaluated person's life and career, present a result. And the MBTI, which has the capacity to map some of your strengths, which were formed in childhood and which, most likely, will not change in adulthood.

Seek Out Knowledge
Be in a constant search for knowledge through books, courses, lectures with professional coaches or with a specialised mentor, in the area you want to grow professionally and who can help you with this issue. Remember, if you’re looking for a mentor, why not join PushFar’s open and free voluntary mentoring platform?

Perfection can Eliminate a Candidate
We all have our defects and flaws. We are all human. So, don’t every try and pretend you’re perfect. In the opinion of an experienced headhunter, when someone knows their own weaknesses, they are closer to evolving than a person who doesn't know themselves well. Organisations do not want their staff to be perfect, because they know that perfection does not exist. Instead they will look for people who are aware of their way of being, who are open to feedback and want to constantly learn and improve.

Use Real-Life Examples
Sincerity is the best way. Learn to point out what you have done to evolve. Many people are hired for their technical profile and fired for their behaviour. That is, an impeccable resume can be ruined if the behavioural profile is not good. As said, everyone has flaws. Being a little vulnerable is okay. No one is asking you to admit that you cannot deliver projects on time - it may cost you your job. But understanding your weaknesses shows that you are aware, that you are developing, and this is especially important. Be truthful and transparent and leave the common discourse. It will be easier to positively surprise the interviewer.

So, there you have it. Eight top tips on how you can come out on top in a job interview and tackle the tricky ‘weakness’ questions. Good luck! And if you're looking for that mentor to help you, click here to join PushFar free today and find your mentor match.
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