What’s Your Biggest Weakness?

You know the question is coming, but that doesn’t make it any less confusing to answer.  You’re cruising through your interview, answering questions flawlessly, when the manager asks, “What’s your biggest weakness?”  How do you respond?  Check out our tips below!

Don’t say you don’t have one. 

You might be wondering, “Aren’t I supposed to convey confidence in an interview?”  Yes, but don’t be THAT confident.  No one is perfect.  It won’t make you look vulnerable or weak to admit you have areas you are working on, and that level of confidence is not exactly endearing to hiring managers.  In fact, it can come off as arrogance or a lack of self-awareness.  This isn’t a trick question; employers want you to honestly look at yourself and know what you’re working on to improve.

Don’t use a strength disguised as a weakness. 

You’re not fooling anybody.  The old “my biggest weakness is that I’m such a perfectionist” or “sometimes I’m just too ambitious” have been heard countless times by hiring managers, and they see right through them.  People who receive this advice are told that it is a good way to answer the question without revealing vulnerabilities, and that is precisely the problem.  Answering in this fashion doesn’t exactly answer the question at all.  You’ll fair much better with an honest answer about a skill that you are working to build than using one of these canned answers.

Mention what you are doing to improve.

You may be wondering, “Why would an employer want to hire me if they see my weaknesses?”  The answer is less about what your weaknesses are, but how you react to them.  Spin this notoriously negative question into a positive by impressing the manager with what you are doing to improve.  Have a fear of public speaking?  Explain to the interviewer how you have added a public speaking course to your curriculum.  Admitting weaknesses to others (and yourself) and overcoming them is much more admirable (and realistic) than saying you don’t have weaknesses at all.

What is the purpose of this question anyways? 

You may be wondering why this question that reveals your vulnerabilities is stuck into an interview where your confidence is supposed to be at an all-time high, and why managers expect an honest answer.  As mentioned, hiring managers want to see that a candidate is self-aware, cognizant of areas they need to improve and has the DESIRE to improve and constantly get better.  They want a candidate who is humble and trainable, not someone who thinks he/she knows everything already.  And finally, being honest with your weaknesses will help both of you ensure you are really the best fit for the position. If you truly cannot stand public speaking and the position requires a fair amount of it, you might be setting yourself up for failure/unhappiness in the position.  An interview is the time for both you and the hiring manager to make sure that this position is the right fit, so being honest now will save you from frustration and turmoil down the road if the position doesn’t meet your expectations or vice versa.

So before your next interview, make sure to prepare for this question.  Everyone has weaknesses, so take a hard look at yourself, identify your shortcomings and start taking the necessary steps to improve them!

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