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How to Answer: What is Your Biggest Weakness?

This question has tanked more interviews than any other one. (The second is, “Why do you want this job?”) Why is this question so hard to answer? Because in an interview you want to only put forth your best foot. Why would you want to tell your would-be employer that you struggle with time management? It could cost you the job.



It’s extremely difficult to be vulnerable and admit that you aren’t perfect let alone do it in an interview. It takes real emotional intelligence to admit that you have weaknesses. The truth is we want to work with people who are always trying to improve and who “own” their weaknesses but not if they have too many weaknesses. In an interview, you want to present yourself in the best possible light so the company wants to make you an offer. If you have no weaknesses then you aren’t authentic and too many then you are too big a risk.


My best advice for how to answer this question is to first reflect on what your actual weaknesses are. What feedback have you been given in past reviews? If you don’t have something that comes instantly to mind what is the thing that you would complain about yourself?


Now answer these questions:

1. What is your weakness at work? 2. How did you identify the issue? (Did you identify it or was it told to you.)

2. What have you done to improve upon this weakness?

3. How do you ensure your weakness doesn’t impact you in the workplace in the present tense?


With these four components, you can structure your response. Your goal is to be able to identify the weakness and show how you addressed it so it’s not an issue in the present tense. By showing the results of your identification of the weakness you show emotional intelligence and that you are someone that is willing to take criticism and grow from it.


Example To Work With

Weakness Identification

You’ve been told that you struggle with time management and not getting things done. Your manager has been frustrated with you for not meeting your deadlines.


Situation

“Early in my career, I struggled with meeting my deadlines. My manager and I discussed that it was impacting the team goals so I worked with my manager to understand what the real priorities were. Part of what was going on was that there were too many things to get done that it was hard to know what needed to be done first.”


Action

“I worked with my manager to identify the priorities and structured my day around those priorities.”


Result

“By doing that I no longer missed any deadlines that would impact the team and we began to be more effective in our communication and ability to work together.”


By following this format you have answered their question with emotional intelligence and shown that you are a valuable member of the team. Hopefully, this gives you some guidance in answering the dreaded weakness question in an interview. In case you are wondering, under no circumstance should you tell the person interviewing you that your weakness is that you work too much! Anything is better than that trite answer.


If you are interested in leveling up your interview skills, we offer interview coaching that can help you practice this doozy of a question and many more.


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