Career Resources

Career Resources

What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

Posted October 14, 2013 & filed under Interviewing, Job Search

What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

In most job interviews, the employer really isn’t looking to revolutionize the interview process. Creative lines of questioning only go so far when getting to know a potential employee, so most hiring managers don’t waste time reinventing the wheel. That being said, you shouldn’t be floored when a hiring manager, asks you this question: what’s your greatest weakness? Leap at the opportunity and show how you’re making your greatest weakness into your greatest strength.

The Question Itself

When a hiring manager asks you questions about your greatest weakness, he or she is looking to determine the following:

• Do you prepare for tough situations?
• Are you aware of your own shortcomings?
• Can you take the steps to improve your greatest weakness?

An exceptional interview gives the hiring manager the confidence to answer yes when considering all of these elements.

Do you prepare for tough situations?

If you have an answer prepared regarding your greatest weakness, you’re halfway there. First and foremost, a question about your greatest weakness is meant to gauge whether or not you’ll be tripped up by tricky situations. Will you fall flat on your face or nimbly two-step beyond the problem with your response to a difficult situation?

Those who don’t prepare tend to flop. They might give one of those generic, disingenuous answers that rolls through failed interviews like bald, weather beaten tires: I work too hard or I’m too much of a perfectionist. Worse than that, they might give answers that puncture their own plausibility as a contender and cut off their forward motion on the spot. If you’ve prepared an answer to the question, you’ve already lessened your chances of being taken out by this road hazard.

Are you aware of your own shortcomings?

Let’s be real. No one is perfect. You’re bound to fall short of your own ideals in some way or another, so the question about your greatest weakness is really a question about your own self-awareness. Are you honest enough with yourself (and by proxy the interviewer) to acknowledge and address your own personal shortcomings? If not, and you give one of those answers that makes the interviewers eyes almost roll out of his or her sockets, you give the impression that you’ll be stuck in a rut whenever a project plays to your Achilles’ heel.

Can you take the steps to improve your greatest weakness?

Honesty is great and everything but if you answer with a weakness that you’re doing nothing about, you were almost better off saying your greatest weakness is fighting tigers or working in an anaerobic environment. Hiring managers don’t just want employees to be aware of their greatest weakness; they also want them to be problem-solvers who are smart enough and driven enough to surmount the hurdles before them.

Include the measures you are taking to overcome your greatest weakness in your response. Identify the ways you’ve already improved yourself and the ongoing ways you intend to keep up that inertia. If you have statistics to prove your progress, your response will hit home all the more. Moreover, you should leave the interview having convinced the employer that your greatest weakness isn’t that big of a deal and, that in due time, it won’t be a problem at all.


James Walsh

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