“What are your biggest strengths?”
Job candidates love this question. They are prepared to get it during the interview, and they know what to answer. “I’m a very methodical person. I am organized and when I set a goal, nothing can distract me from achieving it. I am committed, inspired, and persistent.” That’s one of the usual answers that interviewers get.
“What are your biggest weaknesses?”
This is the point of the interview when candidates stop being honest. “Well, some would say I’m stubborn and that would be a weakness. In my opinion, however, I’m not stubborn. I know how to accept other people’s opinions. Some view my persistence and goal-oriented personality as stubbornness. I see persistence as a strength.” Now that’s a bunch of lies.
There’s one proper way to handle this question: be honest. You don’t have to start highlighting all your weaknesses and present yourself as the worst possible candidate for them to hire. However, the hiring managers will see right through the lies, so it’s important to be honest.
There are few reasons why you should share some of your real weaknesses during an interview.
1. The Hiring Managers Expects You to Be Prepared
When you’re preparing for an interview, you can rest assured that you will get this question. The hiring manager expects you to be prepared for it. However, that doesn’t mean they want a generic answer.
If you’re preparing yourself by reading online resources after googling “how do I answer interview questions about weaknesses,” you’re heading in the wrong direction. Sure, most of these sources will give you solid advice. But if you get too inspired by these online guides, you’ll go for the “my weakness is really my strength” approach, which interviewers simply hate.
Think about this in advance. Write down your weaknesses and think how you’d fit them in an answer that will seem realistic, but won’t jeopardize the chance of getting this job.
2. They Want to See How You Can Overcome Weaknesses
There’s one main reason why interviewers are asking this question. It’s not about showing you that they are in charge. It’s about seeing how well you can evaluate yourself and how willing you are to work towards an improvement.
We all have weaknesses. That is an undeniable fact. If you say that you don’t have them, they will just assume you’re an egoistic person who wouldn’t fit into the office culture. If you share your biggest weakness, however, they will be interested to see what you’re doing to overcome it.
This is the part where you add a positive aspect to your weaknesses.
“I am a workaholic. I work so hard, I just can’t stop myself.”
If you give this kind of answer, it’s obvious that you’re trying to impress them. Maybe you are a workaholic, but that’s not a good thing. You must make the answer more realistic and show that you’re committed to overcome that weakness.
“I am a workaholic. I constantly think about the job and that stresses me out. I am finding it difficult to separate my professional from my personal life. However, I’m doing my best to find the balance. I am still trying to give my best at work, but I also signed up for a meditation course and I spend more time with my family after work. That prevents the burnout.”
Now we’re getting somewhere. You’re sharing a weakness as it is – a weakness. However, you also show your commitment to improve that aspect of your personality.
3. They Already Know Some of Your Weaknesses
Maybe your experience is not impressive. Maybe you applied with a scarce resume. Maybe you didn’t have the needed writing skills to write a captivating cover letter. The hiring managers saw the flaws in the application, but they still decided to invite you for an interview. During the interview, they will want to see if you’re aware of these flaws.
Let’s say you’re trying to change your career. You’ve been working at a hospital admission desk, but now you’re trying to get a job in human resources.
“As you already know, I don’t have a background in human resources. I consider that to be a weakness. However, my experience as a hospital admission clerk exposed me to daily communication with people from all walks of life. My education is related to human resources. With the combination of that knowledge and the experience from the previous job, I believe I can bring something authentic to your organization.”
This is a good answer. It shows that the candidate understands the weak points in their application. It also mentions a strength that might compensate for the weakness.
4. Through This Question, They Are Evaluating Your Personality
When a hiring manager evaluates a candidate, they are not focused solely on the experience, education, and other “professional” things. They want to assess the candidate’s personality. They are doing this by paying attention to the way you speak, the clothes you wear, and the body language you use during the interview. However, they will also ask specific questions that expose your personality. This is one of them.
With this general question, they want to see who you are as a person.
“I am such a perfectionist that even one misplaced piece of paper distracts me. However, I learned how to live with other people’s organizational habits and I stopped imposing my need for perfectionism on them.”
If perfectionism is the elephant in the room, you’ll need to address it. It’s part of your personality and the employers should know about it. When they see the weaknesses as part of your overall character, they will start seeing you as a real person… a person that could easily fit into their office culture.
Are you ready to start talking about those weaknesses? You should be; since the hiring manager will expect you to mention them in all honesty during the interview!
Justin is a blogger from Leicester, England, UK. When not teaching his little students and rooting for Leicester FC, he loves to share his thoughts and opinions about education, writing and blogging with other people on different blogs and forums. Currently, he is working as an editor at BestEssays. Follow Justin on Facebook and Twitter.