If you’re looking to make the transition from the military to civilian employment, you’ll have to get used to the job interview process. There are a number of potential pitfalls that you should be aware of, but one of the most awkward (and common) questions you are likely to be asked will concern your own weaknesses, and your need to identify them within yourself.
There are a number of ways for the question to be phrased but interviewers are generally looking for the same insights.
They do, of course, want to know if you have any major failings or skills gaps that would affect your ability to do the job in question but, more than that, they’re also trying to gauge your level of self-awareness and whether you are able to judge strengths and weaknesses – in yourself and others – on an objective level.
For these reasons, it’s never a good idea to say that you have no weaknesses, even if you’re trying to be positive. No candidate is perfect and this can make you seem arrogant or lacking in self-awareness. Similarly, you should avoid trying to dress positives up as negatives (‘I’m a perfectionist’ or ‘I have a tendency to work too hard’). Interviewers are not stupid and have heard answers along these lines too many times.
There’s no perfect answer to give, as there will be different circumstances for every candidate and role. In general terms, you should identify genuine areas of weakness. Avoid highlighting personality flaws that have nothing to do with the job, but try to pinpoint specific areas such as public speaking or IT skills. You should also think about how you have ? or could in future ? take steps to improve these areas. This could include identifying useful steps that could help you, such as taking extra training courses.
Showing your ability to identify and analyse your own weak points, and that you are willing and able to do something about them, will certainly help you when looking for a job.