What Are Your Weaknesses - Job Interview Question

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Learn the BEST WAY to answer "what are your weaknesses" in a job interview. By leveraging the job description, you will learn how to understand what the hiring manager is looking for in an ideal candidate. If you want to get hired, check this blog post out!

In this Explearning communications lesson, I teach you the BEST WAY to answer "what are your weaknesses" in a job interview. By leveraging the job description, you will learn how to understand what the hiring manager is looking for in an ideal candidate. If you want to get hired, then check out my tips for answering the greatest weakness interview question.

When answering this question you want to refer to the tertiary skills of the role.

What are the tertiary skills?

The tertiary skills are what you glean from the job description once you have figured out what the primary and secondary skills needed for the role are. 

The primary skills are the ones that are listed in the job description. In other words, those are non-negotiables and off-limits for answering the "what are your weaknesses" question.

The secondary skills are the "would-be-nices" and possibly tangentially related to the position. Depending on the job description these may or  may not be listed. Sometimes they are listed as a "desired skills" whereas the "required skills" would refer to the primary skills.

The reason it is important to identify the primary and secondary skills is to differentiate them from the tertiary skills. 

So back to what the tertiary skills are.

These are skills that are not even remotely associated with the position you're applying for. They are only an asset insofar as you make it that way.

For example, for a role in the med-tech space that does business primarily with Europe it is not required or desired to know Mandarin. But perhaps if you spoke Mandarin then you could potentially open the China market for the med-tech company. In other words, you can be an asset that the company had not even thought of in that way by taking the position in that direction (building ties with China because you have superb Mandarin proficiency). 

When it comes to answering this "greatest weakness" question we only want to draw from our tertiary skills.

Let's look at this in action.

Imagine you are applying for a fashion Marketing role at an e-commerce startup and luckily for you, you posses both the required skills as well as the desired skills. When they ask you about your weakness, you might bring up the fact that you are learning to code but you still have very basic and rudimentary knowledge of it. The reason you can discuss your nascent coding skills (i.e. tertiary skills) without penalty is because they are not at all required or desired for the role in Fashion Marketing. If you were to become a proficient coder, you would become more of an asset in that you could oversee a team of coders and be able to share abstract ideas that they could in turn develop into concrete web pages and mobile apps. Because you have an understanding of coding you could more easily brainstorm with the coding team. This would be a great tertiary skill to mention as your "weakness" because it shows that you are self-aware and are a life-long learner. 

The next time you are preparing for an interview, I encourage you to list out the primary skills, secondary skills, and finally to glean from the job description what the tertiary skills could potentially be. Remember, these are not remotely even close to what is needed in this role but possession of such skills could potentially make you even more of an asset by opening up new opportunities. This really only works if you can creatively pitch the connection and create opportunities that you see as viable.

Enjoy figuring out your tertiary skills!

Happy Explearning 🌠