This question is one of the easiest questions to get tripped up on.
Many job seekers often think the biggest weakness question is a trick question, where you're supposed to not reveal shortcomings to employers.
This cannot be any further than the truth!
Employers know that no one is perfect. Their goal in asking this question is understanding whether candidates can reflect on their daily roles and responsibilities.
Understand that your work stories and experiences carry weight, especially if your stories have a takeaway that shows personal or career growth.
You don’t want to exaggerate your story, but definitely highlight times you were resilient, proactive, or self-sufficient.
Here’s how you can go about responding to “What is your biggest weakness?”:
1. Do your research ahead of time
The greatest step in an interview begins here! You cannot expect to succeed in an interview answering questions without any preparation. Figure out from the company’s website what the job will have you doing on a daily basis. Look back at the job description if you need help with this. Once you understand the duties and expectations with the role, you can now use the time to think about a skill you may not have or is not as developed and talk about how it can be improved upon.
An example of doing your research would be recognizing that the nursing job you applied to requires excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Now that you know hospitals value candidates with those two skills, you would want to think of a story where you used these skills and perhaps didn’t do it perfectly, but how that experience has allowed you to correct that in the future.
2. Paint the picture for your audience
Communicating your experience clearly to your audience will be your biggest hurdle. The audience aka the recruiter or hiring manager was not there to witness the event happen so make them relive the event by providing some context. What was the situation? The parties involved. What issues (if any) could arise from your inaction or actions? Paint the picture for your audience clearly so that they—not only understand what’s going on—but also feel compelled to ask “What next?”. When you have these components ready, you’re ready to start developing a fully-fledged response to the biggest weakness question.
A great example could be:
“My greatest weakness as a salesman is my organizational skills. I admit I wasn't familiar with the many aspects of the job at first. I was unfamiliar with making phone calls, managing emails, and client presentations all in one day.”
This example shows your audience an experience where you may have fallen short.
Remember it’s ok to be vulnerable here. You will show your audience how you have overcome this weakness in the next step.
3. Address your response to the situation
You should arrive at this step with a good grasp of your story. Now all that’s left for you to do is show your audience how you grew from this experience.
Good things to mention at this step could include:
• How you never made this mistake again
• How you learned from this experience
• What changes you made after said experience
Going back to the example in number two, we can add the following:
“I took it upon myself to ask others on how to get better at managing my time. I found out that I needed to schedule my day in blocks of time to become more productive. Now I do the most important tasks at the beginning of the day and leave other tasks for later.”
4. Mention the results from the experience
No story is complete without a happy ending! You can now share with the audience the outcomes from the change in your work habits or behaviors.
If you find yourself having trouble answering this question, remember what your English or writing teacher may have told you about your main point.
This two-word phrase is what should be guiding your story. Why is it important that you changed your ways?
Results that you should mention include:
• Anything quantifiable--anything you can measure using numbers like units sold or number of new clients, or number of meetings set
• Anything that demonstrates mastery--you were employee of the month, you were the number #1 sales rep for 2021, or received a certificate/degree
To close out the example, you can share:
“After I was able to use my block schedule for a full year, I was able to finish more work and close more sales. I ended up being in the top 3 out of 20 for sales in 2021 and received a promotion to Sales Manager.”
And this is how can conquer biggest weakness question. Remember to be honest and admit your shortcomings. Your audience will appreciate your story of triumph and leave with a good impression of you.
Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.
Register or sign in today!