How to Talk About Your Weaknesses in a Job Interview
Sharing your vulnerabilities with future employers is scary, but it’s worth learning to do well
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got memories of cringeworthy moments in your work history that still make you want to crawl under a rock and hide. One of those memories that replays over and over in my mind happened during a job interview when I was fresh out of graduate school.
The position would have allowed me to teach, train, and travel. I really wanted it. I was interviewed by a panel of six people who already worked on the team. They asked tough questions, but I was prepared. I communicated well, and I felt great about how it went.
Then, in an unexpected moment near the end of the conversation, one of the interviewers asked: “Would you consider yourself to be a creative person?”
I panicked. He had figured me out. I was an imposter. As I tried to devise a plan to avoid discussing one of my biggest areas of insecurity, my mind was spinning: They want a creative person?? The job didn’t seem like it required a creative person. But they wouldn’t have asked me this if they didn’t need a creative person, right?
Over the next few painful moments, I tried to convince both the panel and myself that I was, in fact, a creative person. “Ummm, yes. I think I can be creative when I need to be.”
As soon as the words left my mouth, I felt tension build in the room — tension that existed because I wasn’t confident enough in my strengths to admit my weaknesses. Needless to say, they didn’t buy it. I didn’t buy it either.
Looking back, I’m confident that the way I answered their previous questions had already told my interviewers that I wasn’t a naturally creative person. Perhaps the question was asked because the person filling the role really needed to be creative, but I think it was more to see how I would respond to being called out about my vulnerabilities. And I failed.
In truth, I wanted to be all the things I thought they wanted me to be. I was young and afraid that admitting I wasn’t creative would disqualify me in their eyes.
While it’s difficult to share our…