“What is your greatest weakness?” is one of those questions that can make or break a teaching assistant job interview. When faced with this question, you should know that your prospective employer is asking for more than just an honest answer.
Interviewers are trying to find out several things: whether you are self-aware, how committed you are to personal / professional growth, and how you deal with challenges or less-than-ideal situations. Moreover, they are trying to decide whether your personal traits are suited to the role offered, the school, and its values.
When preparing to answer this question, the main thing to remember is that when you ask yourself “what are my weaknesses?”, you should also be thinking about what you have done to address them.
It is also important to concentrate on a weakness that would not make you appear as someone unable to carry out a teaching assistant job (for example, saying that your main weakness is “impatience” would be counter-productive). Below you will find some sample answers with more details on how to answer this question.
Sample Answer 1
My biggest weakness is a combination of being overly enthusiastic and not having enough experience. In the past, every time I read about a different classroom activity I wanted to try it out, and at the end of the day I ended up with so many ideas that it became difficult to come up with an organised lesson plan.
In my previous role, a senior teacher told me she had the same problem and that she overcame it by working on her organisational and time-management skills. I followed her advice and I can now say I'm able to prioritise tasks much better.
Sample Answer 2
I used to be shy, but I realised that if I wanted to become a teaching assistant I needed to work on that and improve my communication skills. I attended some workshops that helped me change my perception of assertiveness.
Now I think that being assertive is an important element in effective communication and it doesn't need to come across as being rude. I also believe that having been shy myself can help me relate to shy or introverted students and show them that they can also make valuable contributions.
Sample Answer 3
In the past I struggled to find time to work, study, and spend time with family and friends. When I was learning something new, I'd focus on it and lose track of time, so I've had to make an effort to be more balanced and manage my time better.
I found that creating to-do lists and sticking to a time-frame helped me become more efficient and it made it possible for me to enjoy every aspect of my life.
Sample Answer 4
The fact that I have very limited experience as a teaching assistant could be interpreted as a weakness, and I have to admit that in the past this was one of the things that worried me the most.
However, the fact that I don't have much experience also means that I am willing to learn from more experienced teachers and that I will not be defensive when receiving feedback, since I know that I have much to learn and to improve on.
Having limited experience also means that I'm not the type of person who insists on doing things in a particular way, but instead I'm interested in learning best practices and of becoming a member of the teaching team.
Sample Answer 5
I've always been a perfectionist. I try to do every task at hand to the best of my ability, and in the past I found myself going over every little detail to see how I could have done it better. This is not a bad thing in itself, but I realised that it is important to set realistic criteria for evaluation and to recognise good work and hard effort for what they are.
I also found out that being overly critical of my own work took too much time, and that I could be using that time more productively. Over the years I have learnt to decide when something is good enough.
Sample Answer 6
I have a tendency towards trying too hard to please everyone. In previous jobs I always tried to make an extra effort or to work overtime to please others, but this led to much anxiety and disappointment.
I came to see this as a weakness when I found that pleasing everyone is not realistic and that it will not always help me become more efficient at my job.
I've learnt to take people's opinions into account but also to prioritise tasks objectively and to have a clear set of criteria in place to evaluate outcomes, because otherwise it is too easy to be swayed in different directions.
In the education field, I think being consistent and managing expectations is just as important as being “liked” by others.
Don't fear the “What is your greatest weakness?” question. This is your opportunity to show interviewers that you do not give up easily and that you can think of weaknesses as opportunities for growth.
Ask yourself “what are my weaknesses?” and make sure that your answer is credible and that you can reflect on your personal and professional performance. This will help you make a good impression on your prospective employer.