Presenting your qualities and weaknesses during an interview

 

For many applicants, talking about themselves is clearly more difficult than describing their experience or education. How can you be as prepared as possible? What answers should be avoided?
What are your qualities and your weaknesses? Although often regarded as old hat, even pointless because it is too hackneyed, we recommend that you prepare for this question. Seasoned recruiters will not ask you this question so bluntly but some find odd tricks to get you to speak. An example? This trick question put to an applicant: “If your husband had to describe you, what qualities and what weaknesses would he mention? “ Enough to throw anyone off. But you could reply naturally, as this applicant did: “Probably the same ones I would mention” before listing them.

 

WHY THIS QUESTION?

 

A recruiter is not requesting this introspection from you out of idle curiosity. There is a job to fill, with a team that is perhaps already in place, client contracts to consider, etc. He is trying to understand your motivation, what drives you forward, and to identify how you behave with other people.

 

Never lose sight of the professional context of the interview. If you switch off, you may well switch off from your interviewer’s question. And wander into overly personal territory.

BEWARE CLICHÉS

 

An answer to be avoided because it is so hackneyed : « My qualities are my downfall ».
Also beware overly prepared answers based on the premise that a particular job corresponds to a particular framework. Some applicants repeat the entire list of weaknesses and qualities supposed to match a particular profile. For example, they think a sales employee should be dynamic and opinionated. When the feeling is that a candidate has overly prepared his answer to match what he presumes are the recruiter’s expectations, this is really irritating.

DON’T FORGET YOUR WEAKNESSES!

 

If you are asked the question, it is practically compulsory to “disclose” one or more weaknesses, but always in a professional context. Absolute control of what an applicant says, revealing nothing about his personality, generates mistrust rather than confidence.
But don't put yourself down either. If appropriate, think about explaining how you try to cope and correct yourself by using the example of an actual situation within the company. Which will help you demonstrate your qualities (perseverance, ability to challenge, etc.).

 

Example of “acceptable” weaknesses which can be used to illustrate a situation in a professional context:
“I recognise my tendency to get stressed, I take things too much to heart, making them personal, I am a little too demanding”, and so on.

 

Even being too nice, with a touch of humour (again if appropriate!) can help break the ice. Illustration. In an interview, the recruiter asks: “What kind of manager are you? “ The applicant replies: “I'm keen on participative management, too keen, I may be a little too nice, according to my assistant. But for now, it doesn’t mean things are aren’t working. “ By asking him for an example, the recruiter realised that this manager did not share the company's collective hysteria, where shouting was the norm. Quite a good point!

 

Examples of answers to avoid
I'm not very organised, but I make sure this isn't noticed at work.
I don’t really think I have any weaknesses, I’m quite an easy person to get on with and am efficient at work.
Oh, that’s a tricky question! (Followed by a litany of weaknesses and qualities learnt off by heart) and so on.