Answering Interview Question – What’s your biggest weakness?

When faced with the interview question “what’s your biggest weakness?” rather than panicking and worrying about how you might talk yourself out of the job, it’s worth thinking about why they ask this question.

They want to assess your self-awareness, your willingness to develop and your honesty. It is therefore important to be honest but also to make sure you come across positively. So telling the interviewer that you find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning and that you’re often late for work is not a good weakness to talk about! There is such a thing as being too honest…

Strengths and weaknesses

So you are looking for a weakness that is maybe a covert strength. (“I find it difficult to say no to people so I sometimes have to work late to finish things”).  Or it could be a strength that you have a bit too much of. (“I am very cheerful and positive but that’s sometimes not appropriate for everyone – particularly first thing in the morning!” )

To begin with make a list of your strengths and weaknesses as you perceive them to be. Have a think about any feedback or development suggestions you’ve had in the past. Also imagine how your manager or colleagues would describe you. Now while looking at your strengths, think about if any of those correspond to your weaknesses. For example: “I’m a really good team player (strength) but that can mean I don’t always take full credit for my work and get noticed (weakness).”

What are you doing about it?

Once you have identified your weaknesses it’s important that you highlight in the interview what you have done and are doing to deal with them. For example: “I have high standards and I can sometimes get annoyed when people don’t work to the same standards. However I’ve realised that everyone works in their own way and it can actually be really useful to have different work styles and perspectives.”

Not another perfectionist!

Even if this is true, it is a very unoriginal answer and it’s guaranteed they will have heard it already that day! So find another way to say it without actually using the word. For example: “I am strong on detail which means sometimes I can spend too long on one piece of work. I’ve learnt that it’s important to reach a high standard and then know that it is finished and move on.”

Rather than dreading this question, you can turn it around so it becomes an opportunity for you to demonstrate your self-awareness and desire to develop.

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