A Guest Post by: Patti Conner
If writing about your weaknesses seems difficult, then talking about those same flaws must be tough. You will most likely feel a bit of a post-MBA adrenaline-like rush now that you have your degree and are looking to start your career (and in doing so, you should check out the job search tools at The Undercover Recruiter). However, that does not mean you won’t get bogged down in the minutiae of job interviews—and that goes for even the most seasoned folks out there. Like with any challenge worth facing and conquering, all it takes is the proper amount of training and confidence. Then, you will be sure that you can both identify and address the weaknesses or failures in your career that are worthy of discussion. That’s where this post can help.
To be blunt, you need to be honest with yourself and your interviewer. For that reason, you should dig into your work history; perhaps even with co-workers you have kept in touch with, to recall a particularly challenging moment that you may have even wanted to forget about. Well, don’t forget it, because it’s how you faced that challenge that made all the difference, both at that particular point in your career and in your future.
Too Much of a Not-So Good Thing
As a freelance writer, plenty of my past weaknesses have been identified and pulled apart by editors, which any writer knows is a crucial part of the editorial process. However, it’s when I stepped into an editorial role myself, and a small one at that, that I realized the difficulty of this position. However, I was in my early 20s and full of youthful confidence, so when I saw the opportunity in front of me, I grabbed it and jumped right into my newfound responsibilities.
Over the ensuing months, I realized that the website I was helping run was treading water and actually beginning to take a hit. Yet, because I took on nearly every role possible and thought I was doing solid work, I placed the blame on everyone but myself. After some introspection and more than a few difficult nights, I realized that I was to blame. Why? My inability to delegate. I was so worried about making sure everything was being done “correctly” that I just took it all on by myself. Even though help was all around me, I didn’t let anyone take on the myriad of duties I was performing every day. Instead, I just watched a site that I had cherished—it’s seen been shut down—take a hit when it should have been doing the opposite.
Now, in addressing this one-time weakness in a job interview, it’d be easy to say something like, “I cared too much and let that get in the way.” No. Wrong. I was unable to delegate, simply put. However, once I realized that and began enlisting the available help of others, everything changed. I took the time to train the staff rather than simply do the work for them and, suddenly, everything improved. I was sleeping better at night and relying less on caffeine while (more importantly) the business was doing better.
It Pays to Prepare
Coming to this conclusion wasn’t easy. It was one that required plenty of research and personal growth. In addition to reading through a number of articles on tips for post-MBA job interviews, I stumbled upon a similarly minded blog post by Alice van Harten of Menlo Coaching. In looking into how to investigate your failures, she wrote that you must address a “genuine failure” and not something that you overcame with ease. Again, this is where the much-needed introspection and/or discussions with co-workers could help. Later on, she noted that it’s important to showcase how you learned from your failure and put it to good use. It’s one thing to be aware of the fact that you failed; however, realizing how you applied what you learned from that failure will demonstrate deeper, more critical thinking on your behalf. It also demonstrates that you’re capable of looking outside of yourself, a necessary quality in a leader.
While being completely prepared for a job interview is basically impossible you never know what they may ask—it’s feasible to ready yourself for those questions that you know are coming. Anyone who’s been through their share of interviews knows how often the question of weaknesses/failures comes up, so it’s only right that you can dominate it. After all, it may end up being the most crucial one, especially if you’re fully capable of demonstrating how you eventually triumphed over your failure.