The Career Refresh with Jill Griffin

How to Answer the Most Annoying Job Interview Question: What Are Your Weaknesses?

November 21, 2023 Jill Griffin Season 5 Episode 144
The Career Refresh with Jill Griffin
How to Answer the Most Annoying Job Interview Question: What Are Your Weaknesses?
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Show Notes Transcript

“Tell me about your weakness” could be the most annoying and confusing question to receive during a job interview. Should you answer honestly? Should you find the silver lining and tell the interviewer how you grew because of your weakness? So many questions. In this episode, I discuss: 

  • What this question is really about
  • How to reframe the question in your brain
  • The best way to lean into your blindspots to answer this question

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Jill Griffin is committed to making workplaces more successful for everyone through leadership training and development, team dynamics workshops, and employee well-being programs. Her executive coaching, workshop facilitation, and innovative thinking have driven multi-million-dollar revenues for top agencies, startups, and renowned brands. Collaborating with individuals, teams, and organizations, Jill fosters high-performance and inclusive cultures while facilitating organizational growth.

Visit JillGriffinCoaching.com for more details on:

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  • Team Dynamics training to increase retention, communication, goal setting, and effective decision-making
  • Keynote Speaking
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Speaker 1:

Hi, welcome to the Career Refresh podcast. I'm your host, jill Griffin. I'm a former media and marketing executive, turned career strategist and executive coach. I spent my career working my way up and through the ranks of global organizations and startups, and today I show others how to be the same. Join me each week as we discuss the strategies and actionable steps to leverage your strengths, increase your confidence and develop your career well-being Ready, let's do it. Hey friends, welcome back to the Career Refresh podcast. I am your host, jill Griffin.

Speaker 1:

Today we're going to talk about probably one of the most annoying interview questions that I hear people tell me. I know I've experienced it over my career and it is. So tell me, jill, how would you identify your weaknesses? Seriously, it might be the most annoying question that is dropped during an interview, because you want to focus on your wins, the things you've done well. You want to talk about how your skills and your resume beautifully weave into the role at hand and the job description. And this classic question I firmly believe comes from they really want to see how you think and how you deal with transparency. They want to see do you have a level of self-awareness? I think it's less about the answer and more about how you handle it right. It's a classic question. They want to make sure you have a decent answer. So reframing your weaknesses through the lens of positivity feels a little bit ridiculous, right. Something like I'm a bit of a perfectionist and I have a high quality of work. No one believes you. And then we've also heard before I struggle a little bit with time management, right they kind of feel like they might be true and they may feel true for you, but it also feels a little bit inauthentic. So I want you to make sure that you're providing the transparency that feels authentic to you, but that you're also showing that you do have a high level of awareness and that you're open to feedback throughout your career and you're open to feedback from management and peers as you're working through the particular job at hand. But you don't want to knock yourself or do something that's self-deprecating for something that requires a core skill in the actual work that you're going to do. So you don't want to provide a weakness there.

Speaker 1:

When I work with clients, we always start by focusing on what they do really well. We look at their beliefs. We look at their thoughts, their feelings, any patterns of behavior or belief ceilings, as they're called. We also look at their career identity. We think about where are they really strong, where are their values, where are their skills, and we develop strategies on how to apply all of that productively to the career at hand. So we always talk about weaknesses, too, and a weakness is something that just think about it simply as like it gets in the way of your success. But I want you to think really strategically as you answer this question, because a weakness never becomes a strength. You don't create strengths by investing in weaknesses.

Speaker 1:

Weaknesses and strengths they're not opposites. If you don't have a strength right, something that's a neat and a talent in a particular area, it's not a big deal because you have plenty of other talents. And if you have a weakness or something that gets in way of your success, they'll. There may be incremental improvements, right, you may not be an award winning writer, but you can learn to improve the basic concepts of Stating an argument, of the basic needs of business writing. You can just ask any your friends who work at Amazon or Facebook and what they go through regularly in stating business cases to justify, well, basically anything that they do. So, while you may not have a vast vocabulary, someone who studied creative writing or had an MFA, you absolutely can improve your business writing skills. It's just not going to turn into a strength, and that's why I want you to make the distinction.

Speaker 1:

So I find that the best way to talk about a weakness is when you are in your blind spot of your strength. Think about it this way choose something real, think about a strength and think about when you are in the zone of your strength. That's amazing, but is there an underside of it, right? Is there a way that when you call it halt so when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired that your strength hits a blind spot? And it's something you need to be aware of? So, for instance, let's say you're super strategic and you're always able to think ahead. You're able to look at patterns, you're able to see where we need to go. You have plans. You have a plan A, b, c, d, like you know what to do.

Speaker 1:

The blind spot of being super strategic is that you may need to explain to your colleagues how you got there, or or they're not going to know and be able to align to how you got there. They don't see your background or your homework, so to speak because you already know. But the blind spot of that is, if you don't bring people along, you're not going to be able to collaborate. They're not going to get in line. That's gonna be really hard to motivate your peers to take on aspects of the project with you right?

Speaker 1:

Another way you may think about it is that if someone is very strategic and they just know strategically exactly what's going to need to happen, people may think you're a little bit critical because you're you're super focused on what needs to happen and what's working right. So there's a way that you could say very easily you know, I often need to swim when I'm in my zone of doing strategic planning. I need to slow down and explain to my teammates how I got there and show a little bit of my homework. I remember very often when we were doing strategic planning for clients. Very often they would say it's not that we don't believe the end work that the team has presented, but we want to see your homework, we want to be brought along, we want to align with you and we want to see that this is the right thing. In time they're not going to see me to see the homework anymore, but until you build that level of trust. That's a perfect Opportunity for someone who's super high with strategic capabilities that they need to work on. So there's a beautiful way that you can answer the question.

Speaker 1:

Another way is, let's say that you're really good at speaking, giving presentations. You know verbal and oral communication skills are strong. Well, a blind spot on that might be that you need to create space for others. If you're always talking, that means you're not listening. You could also say that people might be tired of Listening to you, so you have to drive quickly to what's important, right? That's another way of thinking about a blind spot. Or a high producer. You're achieving, you're activating others, you're getting people to do what you want. You're driving to an end result. You maybe work in project management or a producer role.

Speaker 1:

The blind spot could be that you need to help people See that their opinions and that their people, and not just a checklist, that you're not just driving towards the end result, that people are seen and heard, and there are nuances along the way. If you're super focused meaning like I could go into the zone, put heads down and ignore pretty much everything I can get lost in the weeds and Therefore I may be slow to respond to your needs because I'm not checking email and text messages so I may miss aspects of your individual needs and the progress of the team has made so far because I'm so focused. If you have a high level of accountability or responsibility, you know maybe you take on too much, maybe it's hard for you to say no and Because you're taking on too much, this prohibits you from spending time with the team or getting to know players on the team. So let's say one of your strengths is Building relationships and networking others. You could say something like that.

Speaker 1:

At times you have found it difficult to work with very aggressive personality types and, like you understand that diversity and personalities is what's going to make a business strong. You have found in the past that when you're around those personalities you tend to be quiet and maybe hold back your opinions around. You know very verbose or loud colleagues you could then say like so to combat this, I've made a point of spending time with colleagues. Then in the past I felt uncomfortable with to get to know them and by learning more about them and their communication style and their motivations that you're better able to collaborate with different personality types so that you can both equally Contribute your strengths and skills right. So do you see how we're taking something that's a strength and we're looking at the blind spot, but then we're also saying how we would be addressing it.

Speaker 1:

You also want to talk them through how you're working on this and how you continue to overcome any of your blind spots through personal skill development and through mindset work. You may also want to tell them like, for instance, let's say that you're working on your storytelling skills. You may want to take them through the actual courses you've taken, and I don't mean in detail, I mean just let them know that you've taken courses. You may tell them that you know you're doing a regular analysis of TED talks and you're pulling out key points and you're noticing different styles and Storytelling and that you're taking presentation training. But listen, I want you to practice this. I want you to look in the mirror, I want you to say it, see yourself saying it, feel authentic, maybe even write down a script and practice it.

Speaker 1:

And I want you to do this often, because what I hear often is that people think, because they are seasoned or Experience, or that they've been interviewing for years, they can just run from the hip. And then I always hear clients say like, wow, I was out of practice and I know you told me to practice but I didn't. So I'm here to say practice. Don't practice so that you're a parrot or you've memorized it. That's not what we're saying, but we're saying making sure that you're able to explain these areas or these tougher questions that you may feel. You know. Oh, how am I gonna answer this? Right, if you have a thought around it, it's gonna come out in your response, but I just want to make sure that you write it out. You're practicing it, you're saying it and then you're making it your own. It's simple, it's being truthful and it's being super effective. When you do this, don't overthink it, just practice. Okay, you got this.

Speaker 1:

Listen, before I go, I want to tell you about a new offering that I have just dropped. It's a strengthened strategy session. It is a two session package where I'm helping you understand your unique talents, which I have seen as the fastest way to create confidence, clarity, focused conviction. You will discover your top strengths. You will learn how to use them in any scenario, whether it's on your resume, job interviews, networking, your social media and LinkedIn profiles, but also your day-to-day conversation with your bosses, clients and your peers. I work at the intersectionality of strengths. Many clients think of me as sort of like a strength fortune teller or a strengths tarot reader. I'm gonna put the details of it on the show notes and I look forward to helping you gain clarity and strategize what's for now, what's new and what's next.

Speaker 1:

Alright, I Appreciate you so much. Have a great week and I will see you next time. Hey, thanks for listening to the career refresh podcast. If you're enjoying this and want more information, go to my website, jill Griffin coaching comm. There you can find information on how to work with me one-on-one or my group programs, or even bring me into your workplace. I'll put the link to my website in the show notes, but, hey, listen before you go. Do me a favor, great, and review this podcast, because it definitely helps me get the word out To people everywhere so that they can also thrive in the workplace. Alright, friends, I appreciate you. I'll see you soon.