One of the most common areas careers professionals are asked to provide advice on is the dreaded interview question: “What are your weaknesses?”
In fact, this is a great opportunity to expand upon your strengths and values, if you prepare carefully in advance. Answering with a proactive response demonstrates to the employer that you are self-aware and capable of self-development where necessary.
“As part of my research degreee I was selected to deliver occasional lectures to undergraduate students. Although I found the content inspiring, speaking in public made me nervous and uncomfortable. I signed up to a workshop on presentation skills at the University alongside other researchers who were facing the same challenge. The skills we learned helped us to develop our confidence whilst lecturing and several of us keep in touch to provide peer support. I still get nervous but now I feel that I have skills and techniques to guide me effectively.”
Universities provide many opportunities such as research seminars, training workshops and award schemes to aid your professional development, such as the Researcher Development Programme at the University of Exeter. You may also find that you are developing these areas within your research, or whilst working or volunteering part-time; one of the many reasons that having a part-time job or volunteering when you have time, can be extremely beneficial. Thinking back to the Values Exploration Worksheet, choose some areas where you perhaps do not excel (i.e. teamwork, leadership, or discipline).
Activity: Complete the Identifying your strengths worksheet from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Sheffield. Then download this template and note down actions you have taken /will take to develop these ‘weak’ areas.