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Let’s talk about the dreaded question of “What’s Your Weakness?”

Updated: May 6, 2019

In today’s video we are going to talk about the dreaded question of “What’s Your Weakness?”

This question is likely the most asked question in job interviews, especially for new college graduates.

In today’s video, we are going to talk about:

  • The best way to approach this question

  • How to handle this question in the most honest and genuine way possible.

The question, "What is your greatest weakness," can actually come in a variety of forms. The interviewing manager or HR manager can form this question in a variety of ways. For example, one of the ways this question can be asked is,

  • What is your developmental goal for the next year?

  • What things would you like to improve about yourself?

  • If I were to call your manager, what would they say you need to work on?

Why Do Interviewers Ask, "What is Your Greatest Weakness?"

Interviewers want to know 3 main things:

  1. Self Awareness - They want to know how self aware you are about your weaknesses and about your strengths.

  2. Self Development - They want to know if based on your self awareness, the strengths and weaknesses that you have, you can develop a plan to improve on yourself.

  3. Honesty

Now let’s break down the process of how to answer the question in an effective way.

Self Awareness

  • Self-awareness and honesty are a big part of this. When you answer the question, choose a strength that you really want to work on or you’re in the process of working on.

Tip#1: Choose a trait that is NOT vital to perform the job.

  • With that, take a closer look at the job description and see what are the main qualifications for the job. If, for example, something like a detail oriented person is a must for this job that you’re applying for, saying something like “My weakness is that I don’t pay attention to details” is probably not a good idea because obviously it’s going to cause you your job.

  • Now if you’re really not paying close attention to details, then you probably shouldn’t be applying for this job anyway because you’re setting yourself up for failure. When you are choosing traits, stay away from any traits that are detrimental to your ability to perform on the job.

Self Development:

Interviewers want to understand how you can turn your weakness into strength, how you can turn a problem into a solution. So focus on choosing weaknesses, followed by a plan of action in terms of how you have addressed or planning to address this specific weakness.

As an example, if you are mentioning that your weakness is fear or inability to speak in front of large groups of people, then you should also probably have a plan to discuss how you’re planning to address this.

a). Sample Answer 1: “I’m planning to take some toast masters classes where I can practice my speaking abilities.” or some public speaking classes that can help me practice and be more comfortable in front of a group. You should also mention something that I’ve already done in the past to address those steps, like organizing small meetups to make sure you have opportunities to practice in front of large groups of people.

One of the most commonly talked about traits at work is people’s communication style. Whether people are straightforward or conflict avoiders. So, here’s a potential weakness that people can talk about.

b). Sample Answer 2: “I’m a very straightforward person.” Sometimes, my communication style can come across as a little bit aggressive."

This is a problem that they have identified: they stated that their communication style may be a weakness. Now, how are they going to address this? What actions have they taken to minimize the impact on others.

The potential response is this person has taken some classes, such as communication classes or conflict analysis management classes to be able to navigate through the communication styles and find the most effective ways to get their feedback across to others. So here you can see again, we have a problem and we have a solution.

In Conclusion

As I’ve said before no one is looking to put you on the spot. Work on you answer to this question and make sure it covers these three points:

  • Self Awareness

  • Self Development

  • Honesty.

If you stick to those 3 principles, your answer will be well received by the hiring manager.

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