How to make sure your ‘weakness’ doesn’t damage your job interview chances

By Liam Horan, Career Coach & Managing Director, Sli Nua Careers

Liam Horan
Liam Horan, BALLINROBE Tel: 094 95 42965

So, there’s something you feel might go against you in a job interview. It could be a lack of experience in one part of the job, or a software package you haven’t mastered, or a specific qualification you don’t yet possess. Or it might simply be a perception that you are deficient in a certain area, even if you are not – and, in job interviews, perceptions are reality until you challenge and defeat them.

Let’s call this thing you are lacking, or might be perceived as lacking, a Weakness. How do you make sure this Weakness doesn’t derail you in the interview?

Here are some pointers:

1. If it’s just a perception, put it to bed early on. If you feel they are reading your profile incorrectly, set it right – in a non-combative way, of course, but still ensuring you tick the box. “I know there may be a feeling that just because I have spent the recent part of my career working as a salesperson that my people management skills are not what they should be – I would like to point out that I did manage people for some time earlier in my career.” That should help to re-balance the perception.

2. If it is a genuine Weakness, see it for what is – don’t allow it to become your over- arching thought going to the interview. Remember that the successful candidate rarely comes out tops in every single category.

3. Are there any parallels to which you can point that take the raw look off the Weakness? “I realise I may not have carried out work of this nature before, but this topic did feature in my thesis, so I do have some knowledge of it, and I am sure that will stand to me as I adopt to this new role” – here, draw from your education, training, or work in other sectors. When you start looking to the left and right, you will be surprised what comes to mind. Candidates regularly overlook relevant parts of their previous experience.

The-successful-candidate4. If it’s an obvious Weakness, don’t try to hide it. They know, and you know, and you know they know, so let’s be adult about this and discuss it: even if they don’t want to bring it up, you can introduce it. Depict it for what it is – “one area where I know I need to brush up on…” Resolve to take whatever steps will be necessary to make you proficient in the area. Make it clear that you have up skilled yourself in previous jobs. Let them know you’re the kind of person who does whatever needs to be done to get yourself up to speed. Remember, other candidates are almost certain to have Weaknesses too.

5. Accept that it is something you need to work on. Don’t try to trivialise it or bat it away. If it’s important, make it known you will do the needful.

6. Demonstrate previous examples where you overcame shortcomings – “when I started out in my last job, I wasn’t very savvy in {a certain area}, but I read up on it, watched my colleagues closely, and attended a short course and, in the end, I became extremely comfortable with it and it was no longer something that held me back in the role.”

If you would like to make a booking with any of our career coaches mentioned above, see HERE for CV Preparation and Interview Training.