‘What is your biggest weakness?’ is a classic interview question, and one of the most commonly used. It just so happens that it’s also quite difficult to answer without being negative about yourself. However, there are ways around this. Here are some pointers on how to answer this question without shooting yourself in the foot.
Choose a Genuine Weakness
The interviewer will have heard the responses ‘I’m a perfectionist’ or ‘I work too hard’ a bunch of times before. Not only this, but they will see straight through them as blaggy responses. A more honest approach is the best one to take. The recruiter is expecting you to be aware of your weaknesses in order to be able to prevent them from affecting your work. Choose a genuine weakness, but nothing too extreme or honest that it will put the employer off. Realistically, you don’t have to reveal your biggest ever weakness, just a real one that you are aware of and have ways of dealing with.
You should choose an honest weakness, but not one that would directly affect your ability to do this particular role. Think tactically about your choice. If you are going for a role as a manager, for example, don’t say you struggle with time management or organisation. Instead, say something a bit more specific, such as poor memory. This is a problem that’s easier to prevent and deal with, as well as not being such a broad weakness that it could affect you in several different ways. Also, choosing a weakness that is very broad or generic also suggests it isn’t genuine or you are less aware of you own shortfalls. If you’re struggling to come up with something, ask friends and family for their thoughts. And remember not to take their response personally – nobody is perfect!
Give a Counter Response
When asked this question, the worst thing you can do is state your weakness and not elaborate on it further. The only way to answer this question is to state your well thought out and realistic weakness, followed by the steps you take to conquer it. For example; ‘I sometimes struggle with a poor memory, so I make a schedule of what I need to do each today to avoid missing anything. I also take notes during meetings and following conversations with clients to ensure I don’t forget anything that is said’. This shows self-awareness of a problem, and a conscious effort to not allow it to cause any further issues for yourself or others.
Presenting weaknesses isn’t easy, but remember that the employer isn’t looking for a completely perfect candidate. They are looking for a real candidate that can fit in with their company and try hard to make the most of the role if they are successful. Having a positive attitude and confident approach will make any weaknesses you have seem much less important.