During an interview, the hiring manager may ask you a question like, “What are three positive character traits you don’t have” or “What three character traits do you wish you possessed”
When the hiring manager asks this question, he is trying to determine certain areas of weakness without directly asking what your weaknesses are. He also wants to get a feel for how you view yourself and whether your view is too self-critical or overinflated, as either extreme could make you a less ideal candidate.
Points to Emphasize
To answer this question, focus on honesty and positivity in order to show that you have both self-confidence and humility.
- List character traits that can be positive and for which you share an equally positive reverse, like extroversion and introversion.
- Express appreciation for something you don’t possess, while simultaneously being specific about your own positive traits.
- Choose traits that are unreachable, such as perfection, and then emphasize your well-rounded personality and ability to learn from mistakes.
- List a trait of someone you know, and then discuss how you and admire and respect him or her.
No matter how you answer, you’ll want to do so in a way that shows your thoughtfulness and inner strength so you can assure the hiring manager of your own qualifications.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
This can be a very tricky question to answer if you’re caught off guard. Avoid these common mistakes in order to put your best self forward:
- Don’t list character traits that are essential to the particular job.
- Avoid mentioning a trait that you can’t also follow up with a positive about yourself.
- Avoid self-deprecation or a lack of confidence.
- Don’t say that you can’t think of anything positive that you don’t possess, as it will come across as arrogant.
The hiring manager asks this question to gauge your self-esteem regarding your ability to do the job, so you’ll want to avoid being either cocky or unsure of yourself.
A great answer to a question about character traits that you don’t possess could be:
“I’ve always admired my grandmother’s extroversion, strength with numbers and the fact that she’s not afraid to be opinionated. But when I’ve told her I wished I could be more like her, she reminds me that my introversion, love of language and ability to empathize with others’ emotions make me a really caring person.”
Show the hiring manager that you understand that there are different types of people and personalities and that all are valuable in their own way.