In a job interview, your goal as a job seeker is to persuade the interviewer that you are a perfect candidate. That is why the question “What is your biggest weakness” is one of the hardest to answer. This question forces you to express your flaws and vulnerabilities, and if answered incorrectly it can communicate that you are actually not the right candidate for the job. Even though this question always feels like a landmine, if approached correctly, it can increase your chances of getting hired. This is the best way to answer “What is your biggest weakness”.
- Do not dodge the answer
First, make sure you always give a concrete answer. Replies like “I can’t think of a weakness” or “I don’t think I have one” communicates that you are either hiding something or lack self-awareness. We are all humans, and as such we are flawed in one way or another. Before your interview, think of multiple weaknesses that you are comfortable talking about and decide which one to use according to the flow of the conversation.
- Do not present a strength as a weakness
You might think that it is a clever idea to say “my biggest weakness is that I am a perfectionist” or “I work too hard” but portraying desirable attributes as weaknesses is the wrong answer. Hiring managers have heard these answers countless times, so much so, that it has become a cliché. These answers now communicate insincerity and a lack of respect for the interviewer.
- Approach the question with positivity
Now that you know the two biggest don’ts of answering this question let’s discuss how to address it. While the question “What is your biggest weakness” feels negative, it does not need to be approached that way. Be honest in your answer and dress your weaknesses in a positive light. In your answer communicate that you are not ignorant of your weaknesses, but instead, you recognize them and are proactively working on them. Also, avoid using negative words or phrases like “I fail at” or “I am unable to”. You do not want to sound fatalistic but instead confident in yourself.
- Use a weakness that does not affect your performance in the job
If you are applying for an accounting job do not say that you need to increase your Microsoft Excel proficiency. Only name weaknesses that are not necessary or related to the position that you are applying for. For example: If you are applying for a graphic design position that does not require you to create online content. You can say “So far, I have not had the need of creating content and copy for social and online platforms, but I have seen the need for this skill in my field. In turn, I have taken several online courses on copywriting and social media content creation to grow in this specific area”. This is a great answer because it shows that you recognize the areas that you need to work on to become a better professional in your field, but this lack of knowledge will not hold you from performing in the job. To make sure you choose the correct weaknesses to discuss in your interview, closely read the job description and eliminate any listed software, skills, and qualifications that are necessary for the role.
- Tell it like a story
The most persuasive way of answering this interview question is by portraying it like a story with a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning of your story should tell how you came to understand your weakness. The middle should explain the steps you took to overcome such weakness. Finally, the end should accentuate the outcome that you achieved or are expecting to achieve. For example: If your weakness is public speaking you could say “I have always been comfortable speaking in meetings among coworkers, yet I did not know I had trouble with strangers until I had to speak at a conference a year ago. I noticed that big crowds make me nervous, so I decided to look for help online by watching videos and reading articles on public speaking, learning some speech exercises, and volunteering to speak in public as much as possible. Today, I feel much more capable of speaking in public. I still get a bit nervous before I start talking, but once I start, I feel right at home”. This answer tells a concise but powerful story of your proactivity, by explaining how you noticed your weakness, took action, and conquered it.
Examples of “What is your biggest weakness” answers
So, taking these five points into account. How should you answer this question? Here are some great examples:
In the past, I used to leave my tasks for the last minute as I feel like I work better under tight deadlines, yet I noticed that this was just an excuse to procrastinate. In turn, I decided to leave this bad habit behind and work on my tasks ahead of time. In order to not lower my performance and energy, I now give myself personal deadlines and goals to complete my work early. This new approach does not only help me get my work done ahead of time, but it provides me with extra time to go back and look at my work critically to find ways to make it better.
This is a great answer because: It tells a story of how you noticed that procrastination was a problem, how you devised a plan against it, and how you turned it into a strength.
About a year ago I noticed that I tend to forget about work once the day is over, and this resulted in me forgetting job-related tasks and not getting them done unless I was reminded. To fix this, I devised a system by adding scheduled reminders to my phone and having a physical calendar next to my desk that I look at every day when I get to the office. Ever since I started reminding myself of my tasks through digital and physical means I have not missed a deadline or gone through the stress of having to get something done in a rush because I forgot about it.
This is a great answer because: It shows how you noticed that your forgetfulness is a weakness, you developed a system of reminders, and through this solution you are now able to excel at your job.
The question “what is your biggest weakness” is classified by many as one of the hardest interview questions. Yet, if you approach it with a positive attitude, and tell a compelling story about how you are proactively working on your weaknesses, you can increase your chances of getting hired by developing an answer that communicates how strong of a professional you really are. We hope these tips help you impress the hiring manager and excel in your next interview. Just remember to always show confidence and keep your answer concise.
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