One of the most common questions that candidates encounter during an interview is “What is your greatest weakness?” This question can take many different forms like “Share an area of personal growth” or “What is an area in which you will need the most support?” All of these questions are essentially trying to get the interviewee to talk about ways they believe they can grow in experience, skills, or knowledge.
There are many reasons why an employer might be interested in asking these questions – they might be trying to determine whether you are forthcoming, or whether you have the ability to accept your own shortcomings. If you have ever wondered about how to respond to these questions then here are a few tips to help you with composing a great answer for the next time that you encounter these questions:
Talk about something that you perceive as a genuine area of development.
Almost all of us have areas of weakness – it is okay; your potential employers already know that you are probably not perfect. You will not be jeopardizing your chances of landing the job if you own up and discuss something that you think you can improve on unless what you share is connected to your future success in the role. Engage in some self-reflection and figure out what you want to highlight as your weakness(es).
Discuss how you have tried to improve yourself in the relevant area.
It is very important to demonstrate that after recognizing your own weakness, you have taken concrete steps towards overcoming your flaw. In order for your example to be valued by the interviewer, your weakness must still exist even if you are working on it. This goes on to show that you are a proactive individual who is not afraid of taking ownership of your self-improvement.
Use examples to back up your claims.
Don’t just tell an employer that you find yourself struggling when communicating in front of a large audience, but also show how you are addressing the weakness by attending public speaking classes, for example. Make sure to pick an example that would be appropriate to discuss in a professional setting.
Here are some mistakes to avoid when responding to questions about your weakness.
Do not try to spin a positive into a weakness.
If you say that your weakness is that you work too hard or that you are too much of a perfectionist, employers are likely to perceive that as either your own lack of self-reflection or your unwillingness to engage sincerely with the question that they asked. Needless to say, neither of those responses will count favorably for you.
Do not say something that is completely unrelated to the position you are applying for.
If you are applying for the role of a data analyst, do not say that you are a terrible cook, even if that is true. If your response is completely irrelevant to the job or your professional identity it might be perceived by interviewers as an attempt at deflecting the question.
Avoid discussing something that will make employers question your suitability for a role.
If you think your weakness is that you struggle to wake up in the morning, think hard whether you are comfortable talking about that with potential employers. Even though you want to be honest it is important to strike a balance between being candid and oversharing. There are some things that you can continue working on, improving personally, without sharing it with others in a professional setting.
If you want to practice your interviewing skills you can utilize the interview preparation resource, Big Interview. You can also book an appointment at the Center for Career Development for a practice interview session by logging into your Handshake account. Follow the directions on this link for information on how to schedule an appointment, or alternatively you can call (860)486-3013.