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In these short pages, we provide a sample answer for each interview question in relation to the industry shown. We then analyse the answer, pointing out valuable information so that you can adapt the answer to your specific circumstances.
Retail - What Are Your Weaknesses?
Since I was young, I haven't been one for spontaneity. Surprises haven't been my thing and that's carried over into my career. It would seem that this might not be too much of a weakness but it's affected me with my time management. I used to take it upon myself to do a stock-take of the floor and list what's needed. This has sometimes eaten into time I should have spent on the floor with customers. You see, I like to be completely organised and when I've focused on the stock, I've accumulated other work left undone. It was an issue up until a few months ago when a previous Manager highlighted the disadvantages of what I was doing. I've taken this on board and began looking out for customers or colleagues needing assistance, leaving those other headaches to my Manager. My current outlook is to get to the job at hand instead of trying to organise absolutely everything around me.
Delegation has been another aspect of work that I've come up short on. There was a Management meeting a few months back and I attempted to take charge out on the floor while my Manager was tied up. I explained to my three colleagues that we would have to run the shop for the next hour and I gave directions on what our tasks were. The only problem was that I didn't give clear direction as I wasn't fully aware of all the tasks that the employees had to do, but because I stuck my neck out and made myself the go-to employee for that short time, my colleagues came to me when they ran into a problem. I hadn't realised that I was so much out of my depth until these problems started to arise, and that's when I noticed that the direction I had given my colleagues wasn't good enough. I've since taken extra notice of the finer details of everyone's role which will help me if I'm ever faced with a similar situation.
When I explained all of this to my Manager at a monthly meeting, she reminded me of exactly what the responsibilities were for my role and gave me a good idea to try and nurture my organisational thinking in a positive way instead of how I had been using it. I now plan each hour as I go, with the number one task always being to assist customers when they come through the door. I am seeing more productivity and sales this way instead of planning my whole day at once and losing time around it.
The Interviewee raises a weakness that wouldn't be common to hear - being spontaneous. They link this together with delegation and explain it in a very believable way. The Interviewee factors in example stories which come across as strong and practiced. There is good detail in the stories, but although the Interviewee gave an example of how they're working towards improving on each weakness, they could possibly raise other issues to the employer. It is always good to be real with your Interviewer but too much honesty can raise a red flag if you're not careful.
As mentioned, to be spontaneous is rare to hear for a weakness but in this answer the Interviewee leads the employer to their organisational skills. This can be a very good idea - a type of camouflage - but you may need to elaborate on the weakness before moving to the strength as the employer might pick up on this; and they want you to be fully aware of where you're strong and where you're weak.
The silent message that comes across in the answer is the Interviewee's will to move up in their career. When they mentioned that they stepped up and tried to grab the bull by the horns it shows how much they want to grow in their career. There wouldn't be many people who would admit to making such mistakes but I think the Interviewee might have hit the nail on the head here. It shows their ambition and the employer would pick up on that.
Overall, the Interviewee could have shot themselves in the foot with their chosen weakness but they explained enough to see it through. They needed to give the extra detail in order to get it right and they gave a detailed example background of the weakness, ensuring the employer knew what had been done to improve.