What’s the most difficult interview question you’ve ever encountered? It likely had to do with weaknesses, and everybody has them. Two of the more difficult questions interviewers ask are “What are your leadership blind spots?” and “What is the critical feedback that you received from your boss that surprised you the most?” They’re challenging because they expose your vulnerabilities.
How to answer the question
The interviewer is assessing your ability to continuously learn, adapt to challenges and take constructive criticism. When asked “What are your leadership blind spots?” your strategy should be to answer honestly about a weakness you know you have, and explain how you mitigate its impact. The key is to provide an answer that shows you are self-aware, and can work with your weaknesses. Interviewers will see right through answers that imply you’ve done a 180 degree turn; be honest and say that your awareness of the problem helps you prevent it from affecting performance.
If you’re truly not aware of your blind spots, ask your manager or a few trusted colleagues to help. Forbes advises you to “reach out to people who have observed your performance and are willing to give you candid feedback on how you are perceived. You can collect that information on a formal basis using some type of 360° assessment or informally over lunch with a colleague.” Also ask these observers for their suggestions on what you might do to strengthen this area. Then, get busy and start working on closing the gap.
Also consider whether your weakness might be perceived as a strength in a new culture. Prior to the interview, learn as much as you can about the culture of the organization with which you’re interviewing. Identify their key leadership competencies and culture (i.e. are they fast-moving, consensus-driven, direct, or bureaucratic?). Harvard Business Review states, “Someone who might seem weak or indecisive in an execution-oriented culture might fit right into a highly collaborative culture. What looks like weakness in one culture may be strength in another.” Ultimately, the more you know about the organization, the more effective you’ll be answering these tricky job interview questions.
Everyone has weaknesses and has received criticism on the job. Don’t skirt around these interview questions. Instead, turn them to your advantage. A compelling, insightful answer requires advance preparation. Instead of hoping you won’t be asked this question, bank on it, and be ready to respond.
Author: Joanne Loberg of JL Careers Inc. is a Certified Executive Coach and Internationally Certified Career Management Professional. She specializes in coaching professional and executive clients and providing career advancement strategies. Copyright JL Careers Inc. All rights reserved.
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Certified Executive Coach & Internationally Certified Career Management Professional