You’ve been in an interview for about an hour. Questions about your work history, education and expectations have been discussed. You are feeling great and can sense the interview coming to a close, when the direction of the discussion changes and you are asked one last question, “What would you consider your greatest weakness?” This is a question that many job seekers have a hard time answering. Do you admit you have a weakness? Do you answer so that you seems like you have no weaknesses at all? Do you simply say, “I have none”? The main reason this question is asked during an interview is to gauge how you address a challenge. It also gives the hiring manager some perspective on how you view yourself and your abilities.
Just how should you approach answering this question during your next interview? Well to start, there is no single correct answer to this question, but a few approaches you can take to help you better address it, should you be asked during your next interview.
Don’t Generalize Your Answer
You want to make sure that you are as specific as possible when asked this question. Giving an answer such as “I would say not being a good communicator is my greatest weakness” could potentially lead the hiring manager to start asking a lot questions and is a red flag. Instead try providing specific examples of times where you might have had a hard time with communication like presenting in front of a large group. This is more appealing than providing an answer that makes it look like you have a huge communication weakness.
Tell the Truth
Stay away from giving the perfect cliché type answer here. It might seem like a good idea to do so, but it also could come back around to harm you. Giving such an answer might prompt the hiring manager to ask some more probing questions that could end up showing you are not being completely honest. Prior to the interview think about which weaknesses you feel comfortable talking about. This will allow you to provide honest answers if this asked is question.
Don’t Include Key Skills Listed in the Job Description
Take some time to review the job description of the position you are interviewing for. The goal here is to avoid mentioning any kind of weakness that may be part of the job description. If the job you are interviewing for requires that a majority of the work be done in teams and you mention that you work better alone, then the hiring manager might automatically assume you are not a great candidate for the position.
Mention How You Progress Through This Weakness
Avoid using any kind of absolute type phrasing when talking about your weakness. Utilize lines such as “I have a tendency to” or “every so often” this will make it so that the weakness you are speaking about does not seem like it is an ongoing issue. Once you make mention of your weakness, be sure mention how you are taking action to improve on it. If your weakness is presenting in front of a large crowd, then be sure to mention how you are taking steps to improve.
Acknowledging you have a weakness is tough and it always will be, but with the right preparation you will be able to provide a genuine answer which the hiring manager will appreciate. Remember to be yourself and honesty will take you the rest of the way.