Whether you have been to a few or several job interviews, chances are you have been asked THAT question: What is your greatest weakness? This is a question that many people dread and no one ever quite knows how to prepare to answer it.
What is it all about?
This has become a cliche question in interviews. Why? Because they want to see how you handle a question that’s intentionally meant to throw you off your game. they want to test your confidence and they want to make sure your weakness isn’t a skill that is required for the job. It isn’t about what you say but, what you’re saying beyond what you’re saying.
There’s a right way to answer this question and LOT’S of wrong ways to answer it. Here are mistakes that people make when they are faced with this question.
Some people go wrong by lying. Some candidate will talk about something insignificant to the job or they pick weaknesses that could be perceived as a strength (interviewers see through this). Interviewers can tell when you are lying. They are trying to get some honest insight into who you are and how you deal with being under pressure.
“Weakness? I don’t know what that is.”
Some candidates will try and weasel their way out of answering the question by saying they don’t have any weakness. Bad idea. Nobody is perfect and everyone has a weakness. If you answer this question this way it shows that you lack self-awareness and lack the ability to be self-critical.
Saying too much
When some candidates are nervous or under pressure they start ramble and start saying too much. Sometime less is more. I know I said lying is never a good thing, but you also don’t want to be too honest! When you are rambling you may end up revealing information that could cost you the job. The hiring manager doesn’t want to hear that you have a tendency to wake up late and always miss the bus!
How to answer the question
This is a multi-layered question so your response should be layered as well. Remember you are trying to show the hiring manager that you are self-aware and you are taking the initiative to improve yourself. Write a list of your weaknesses, pick the ones that have the least negative impact. Start with a brief description of your weakness, an example of when the weakness has obstructed you from completing a task and what you are you did/what you’re doing to improve and overcome the weakness.
Address an obvious weakness
If you have gaps of employment/experience on your CV you could use that as an example of a weakness and explain what you’re doing to close the gap. For example, if you are a Java Developer and there are gaps between contracts explain what you have been doing whilst you were out of work if you have done freelance or voluntary work show them your portfolio as an example of what you have been doing to develop and improve your skills.
Negative into a positive
I know, I said not to use a strength disguised as a weakness, but there is another way to turn a negative into a positive with your answer. In your response try not to use the word “weakness”, this allows you to shift this question from a negative to a positive. For example “Being organised wasn’t my strongest point, but I implemented a time management system that helped my organisation skills.”
-Speak with the same level of confidence you have shown when answering other questions.
-Always have 3 weakness ready (pick the least negative ones from your list)