Turn Weaknesses to Compelling Stories as an International Student
Updated: May 16, 2019
Don't be Nervous About Discussing Your Weaknesses. Instead, Answering with Strategy Will Help Get Your Foot in the Door!
Negative questions can come in many forms. Interviewers want to dissect any red flags or gaps in your skills that could be a roadblock if you’re offered the position.
Throughout my time as an international job seeker in the U.S. job market and currently as a mentor for my clients who are going through extensive career searches, I've seen and analyzed many great interview questions such as:
What on the job description do you feel uncomfortable doing?
What do you think is the key challenge in doing this job?
I don't see that you have direct experience in this area, how do you think you can hit the ground running?
Why do you want to leave your current position?
In your last position, what was one thing that your manager said you needed to improve?
What is a misconception that people have/had about you?
What is the most valuable piece of advice someone has given you?
Tell me about a time when you responded to negative feedback.
What type of a person do you want to avoid working with?
What were some communication challenges on your last project?
Describe a failure in your life and why you think it happened.
And the classic question…
What are your weaknesses?
Before preparing for any interview, as I've shared in "What Is The Right Mindset I Should Have For A Successful Job Interview?”, please remember that your interview is not a test if you are in or out, it is about creating a conversation.
The questions like "What part of this job do you feel uncomfortable doing?" may make you feel worried or reluctant to answer – but don't be! There's no “one size fits all” technique to answering negative questions but there are ways to handle them.
You definitely should not show that you lack the key knowledge, skills, abilities, or culture fitness for the job. At the same time, you should be genuine when you're presenting your answers. Does this sound like a dilemma?
It's not a dilemma. You just need to prepare the right mindset, your delivery style, and your storylines prior to your job interviews. There is a lot of work you need to do before each interview like analyzing the job descriptions, preparing cases to showcase specific attribute that the job requires, and anticipating the gaps that your interviewers could see from your profile. After you've done all of that, there are TWO quick tips for you to handle negative interview questions:
Don't seem defensive – just give a natural smile 😊 to make you and the interviewer feel comfortable and say "let me think" before giving your answer.
Be authentic instead of a perfectionist. Your interviewers do not expect you to be perfect. In fact, the appearance of perfection could also be interpreted as a red flag, of not being authentic, or never experiencing failures in life and therefore not having enough resilience when things go wrong. Answers that don’t sound genuine and could turn the interviewers off could be something like "There's nothing about the job that is challenging for me" or "My weakness is that I work too hard" or "I’ve never experienced any failures in my life."
Check out the sample of effective answers for negative questions in my next blog: Nailing Job Interviews 101: Turning Your Failure Stories into Winning Stories, Episode II
Good luck with your career search!
Personal note: I'd like to say thank you to the young and talented international candidates who I have helped and am currently working with, who have achieved their dreams or are on their way to achieving their dreams. I've gained inspiration for my blogs through coaching them... "To me, you are a superstar"!
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