How to answer the interview question "tell me your three areas you need to improve?"

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by jamoehope, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. jamoehope

    jamoehope Companion

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    Sep 9, 2010

    The question during interviews "tell me your three strengths and three weaknesses?" always throws me off. Strengths are easy. But weaknesses? What do you admit honestly? What might make you look less appealing as a person to hire? How do you answer the weaknesses question?

    Side note: I'm thinking about this because I have an interview tomorrow for high school (I've only taught in elementary before) and I'm not 100% sure how I'll answer the question.
     
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  3. TXowl

    TXowl Companion

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    I always saw the weaknesses question as an opportunity to show that you are willing to own your mistakes and be prepared to fix them. As long as you can explain how you are working to overcome that weakness then I think you'll be fine.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 10, 2010

    I have answered this honestly-- I always answer interview questions honestly. Otherwise, if I get the job and it's a bad fit, I have no one to blame but myself.

    When I last interviewed in 2006, I said that I had no idea how to work a graphing calculator (I teach math remember.) And that, if hired, I would pay my teenage neighbors to teach me to learn it. All said with a smile, all absolute fact.

    Fortunately, my old job found me a spot, and I'm still blissfully ignorant on graphing calculators :D

    Good luck today!
     
  5. Miss Snix

    Miss Snix Companion

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    I hate answering the 'weaknesses' question too. I always go into interviews trying to have this answer in my head but I always sound like I am stumbling with it, while trying to make a weakness a positive.
    My weakness is answering the weakness question lol
     
  6. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    One of mine I typically mention is that sometimes I am a perfectionist. I want every lesson to be perfect, so I overplan. This leads to many late nights :)

    I also think of weaknesses as areas that I can still improve too. I think that I am always working on differentiating better. I try my best, but I am sure I can do better (especially with those higher students).
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I would lead off with that comment and a smile, then get down to the real answer.
     
  8. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Sep 10, 2010

    I hate this question too, but it does give you the opportunity to elaborate on how you would overcome those weaknesses.
     
  9. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Sep 10, 2010

    I am a packrat. I keep everything and sometimes I feel overwelmed because of it.

    I get nervous dealing with parents. I can talk all day long with small people, but big people make me nervous.

    I talk loud because of my hearing loss. Because of that some people think I am yelling at kids. I am not and in no way are the kids scared of me.
     
  10. SPECIALEDMAN

    SPECIALEDMAN Companion

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    A positive way (sort of) to approach the dreaded “weakness” questions is to simply say that at times you take on too much because you have the tendency to be a perfectionist and want to make sure that things are just right.
     
  11. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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  12. jamoehope

    jamoehope Companion

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    Sep 10, 2010

    Lol, I like the perfectionist suggestion, but then the link that mrachelle87 posted directly conflicts the suggestion. It reads: "I don’t suggest using that traditional, 'I’m a perfectionist', as it is often overused, and will tend to sound phony." Thank you for the link. It addresses a lot of issues in interviews and how to sell yourself.

    Thank you all for the advice. As it turned out they did not ask about weaknesses at all. They asked about how I would handle ELD students, students with challenging behaviors, what main skills a resource teacher needs and what I skills I have, etc. BUT I did think of weaknesses in advance in case they did ask me:
    - I have a hard time saying no
    - I'm cautious in new situations/settings
    - I can be self-critical
     
  13. chasingcomets

    chasingcomets Rookie

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    The main one I use is that I tend to procrastinate. But then I tell them how going back to school while working and raising kids forced me to learn how to make lists and stick to schedules and now I rarely procrastinate.

    If pressed for three, I might also use the self-critical one, as it's true. I tend to over-analyze lessons for days and days after teaching them and it can drive me nuts. I guess another one would be that I'm actually quite shy around new people and it takes me a little time to warm up to them, but that I try to overcome it by forcing myself to introduce myself and fake it until I do warm up to them.
     
  14. itsmejenni

    itsmejenni Rookie

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    I found this website that had a great answer to that one, It says something like ... example: when I first started my internship, I found that my creativity started getting in the way. I have all these great ideas and creative things I can use in lessons, and being so good with technology I tend to find even more great lessons to teach, my bigest challenge was learning to pick out the most important lessons that coorelated to the standard needing to be covered at the time and focusing on it. this tells them, yes, you are a constant learner, you are creative, and you are growing, and great with computers. It was something LIKE that, not sure the exact wording.
     
  15. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 12, 2010

    I would hesitate to use ANY canned answer.

    Be truthful.

    Seriously, if your greatest weakness was something serious, you wouldn't be considering teaching, right?? You honestly believe that, whatever your weakness is, it's no real hurdle to your ability to do the job well, right?

    So be honest. Forget the canned answers, and answer the question honestly. Then, honestly, talk about how you plan to overcome the problem.

    I think the "perfectionist" answer is so safe, so predictable, that it would actually work against you. It's like pleading the 5th-- it's legal, but it implies that there are some real secrets you're choosing not to disclose. I think the same is true with the other "not really a weakness, but instead a reason you should hire me" type answers. I think they'll be read as a cop out.
     
  16. jamoehope

    jamoehope Companion

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    Sep 12, 2010

    itsmejenni: I like the suggestion (and I do love to use computers with students) but I think my honest weakness would be that I don't use the computer enough with the students. When I do use it, I try to be very effective, such as using the word problem website http://thinkingblocks.com/ or the reading comprehension website http://homepage.smc.edu/reading_lab/cards.html for older students. But I don't access or create more materials that might be just as or more effective.

    alicecc: I agree to avoid canned responses for the reasons you said. If asked the weaknesses questions in further interviews I will used the ones I listed before because they are honest and areas where I want to improve. As for my plan to overcome them... To tell myself I have to say no because I can't please everybody, to use my cautiousness to think through my decisions and portray myself as thoughtful/confident instead of afraid, and to tell myself that if I understand other people are not perfect, I can't be perfect either.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010

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