There used to be a set of standard questions every employer would ask in an interview. These generally included questions about potential strengths and weaknesses. Strengths were always easy, of course. A candidate would be happy to tell you how they’re good at something. Weaknesses were often harder, and candidates would use it as a way to turn a weakness into a strength. How many times have you heard answers like, “My biggest weakness is that I care too much.”? Because of the disingenuousness of these answers, employers need to find a new way to drill down to the things that candidates believe need improvement. Here are better ways to ask candidates about their weaknesses.
Tell Me Something About Yourself That You Feel You Need to Improve
This is where candidates can be honest but proactive. They know what their weaknesses are, and you’re looking for someone to be forthright with what they have to say. You also want to know they’re willing to work on it to improve. For example, someone might say, “I have a hard time keeping my workspace organized. So I’m committed to taking ten minutes at the end of each day to put things back where they belong and file important work so it can be found easily.”
How Have You Handled Negative Feedback in Your Past Jobs?
What you want to see is that they can handle themselves with grace and gratitude. People who can’t think of any negative feedback aren’t putting themselves in a better position. They’re raising a red flag. Everyone has had an experience where they’ve received feedback. You want the candidate to share how they took that feedback and used it to improve.
What Would Your Last Manager Say You Need to Work On?
This is another way to frame the previous question, but it also makes it more specific. You want the candidate to tell you something their most recent manager has said so you may have a better understanding of how they work on the job. You’re also asking them to put themselves in their supervisor’s shoes.
What Skills Are You Looking Forward to Learning?
If you want to see what gaps a candidate has in their skills, this is a great way to ask with a positive spin. If they’ve researched the job and the company like they should have, they will know the kinds of things you do and may have an idea of something they’d love to learn. This can be a positive depending on how they express their interest.
How Self Aware Are You? What Are your Blind Spots?
This is a deep question that may catch some candidates off guard, but it’s a valuable exercise. You want to know if they can think on the spot about something that could be a limitation. If someone stumbles or can’t think of anything, they probably aren’t being honest. But if they can’t and email you something after they’ve had a chance to think, they may be worth considering.
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