Dec. 20, 2016

How to Answer the Question: “What is Your Greatest Weakness?”

The question “what is your greatest weakness?” is as much beloved by those conducting job interviews as it is hated by jobseekers. Approaching this question seems difficult—reveal too much and you might hurt your chances at a job, reveal too little or dodge the question and you might seem arrogant. To begin answering the question is to understand the motives behind the question. It isn’t necessarily what you answer, but how you answer. Read through our three tips for handling this frequent job interview question and be prepared to crush it at your next job interview.

  1. Be self-aware – Identify who you are, what behaviors you value, and your habits—both good and bad. Having the presence of mind to contrast what you are now with what you hope to be can help you identify poor character traits or bad habits necessary for improvement. Doing this before you are in a job interview can alleviate a lot of unnecessary stress should the question arise.
  2. Be authentic – If we are to live by the maxim that it is not what you answer to the question “what is your greatest weakness,” but how you answer—know that the authenticity of your answer will say a lot about you. Dodging the question, not answering it, or deflecting it with humor may leave the hiring manager with an unintended takeaway about your character.  Approach the question from a genuine place. Don’t answer the question with a strength or a positive characteristic—something the hiring manager has heard a thousand times before. If your answer is “I’m too great of an employee” or “I work too hard,” than you’re not displaying the depth of introspection that a hiring manager is trying to uncover.
  3. Build toward positivity – If you can start your answer by revealing a weakness, but transition your narrative into one that demonstrates efforts to overcome your weakness you can reveal a lot about your dependability. Anyone asking you this question in an interview is not trying to position you as a fraud or an imposter, but rather trying to get a better grasp of your character. By revealing a weakness to the interviewer while also framing your narrative as one of a gradual build toward improvement and strength, you can show that you have the emotional maturity to handle criticism in the workplace and a willingness to better yourself after facing setbacks.

By being self-aware, approaching the question with authenticity, and framing your weakness in a way that demonstrates improvement, you will be well on your way to answer the inevitable question: “what is your greatest weakness?”

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