Meaning behind the interview Question – Chapter 2: “Weaknesses”

In the second of my “Meaning behind the interview question” series of blogs, I am going to tackle the “weaknesses” question. Many candidates I talk with are unsure how to answer this question. Naturally one doesn’t want to appear as if they can’t do the job to the interviewer. Due to this many people fail to give a good answer to this question.

So let’s look at what is behind the question. What the interviewer is really looking to get at is self- awareness. Nobody is perfect and we all have weaknesses. Those that can’t recognise their weaknesses might give off the impression that they will be hard to manage as they think they know everything. If one is able to pinpoint their weakness, then one is much more likely to be able to improve upon it, manage it and neutralise it’s impact on their performance.

My colleague Robert Connolly (Director – Legal & Compliance Recruitment) uses an excellent metaphor to discuss this point. He talks of a triathlete he once knew. This individual was a naturally gifted swimmer and cyclist and he often would finish in the top 20 of races entered but no matter how hard he trained he couldn’t advance much further. This is until one day he realised that his key weakness was his running. With this in mind he decided to seek out a running coach. Now, rather than giving the same focus to each discipline he gave a greater emphasis to his running training whilst only seeking to maintain his level in the others. Having done this, within a short period of time he was competing for medals in numerous events.

The reason behind it is that the gain in his running times was much larger than the minimal loss he experienced in the other two disciplines. Essentially it is generally much easier to go from 60% to 85% in something than it is to go from 92% – 95%.

In much the same way as an individual if you can recognise your weakness it gives you an ability to improve on it and therefore become a more well-rounded employee.


Meaning behind the interview Question – Chapter 2: “Weaknesses” was written by Ross Wynne, Director Amicus Accountancy and Tax. Accountancy jobs Ireland.