How to answer ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’

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Source: BBC News

In most, if not, all job interviews will ask the one question that, in one way or another, decides the outcome of the interview. This question will help the interviewers determine just what kind of person (outside of what is on their resume) they would be getting if they were to offer a position. The question is, “What is your biggest weakness?”

“What interviewers can’t tell from a CV with certainty is an individual’s true personality.” Chairman of Reed recruitment James Reed stated. “By asking the question ‘what is your greatest weakness’, employers are really asking candidates ‘are the conclusions I have drawn about you correct?’”

The general purpose of the interviews are to discover more about the candidate’s character and personality more than their achievements and accolades, which can be found on their resume. Traits interviewers tend to favour are those related to good cooperation, the ability to take initiative, being unique, and having the capacity to improve. One suggestion when thinking about the answer to this question is to be bold, to make your answer stand out and tell interviewers why you are unique.

Some of the most common and overused answers to this question revolve around being a perfectionist or being stubborn. Found of graduate support site HelloGrads Sophie Phillipson said, “‘I’m a perfectionist’ or ‘I’m stubborn’ are both done to death; everyone knows working to a high standard or being doggedly determined are not weaknesses, so most good interviewers will tell you to think of another.” Interviewers mostly prefer when a candidate is confident enough to point out real flaws within themselves, showing them that you are aware of shortcomings but know the steps needed to overcome them.

Phillipson also said, “My favourite response was from a graduate interviewee who began her answer with: “Ah, I have so many weaknesses I don’t know where to start”. It got a laugh from the interviewers, the room on her side, and displayed emotional intelligence.”

“She told us she wasn’t ‘work ready’, being fresh out of university, and had big knowledge gaps, but also that she’d been doing as much industry research and work experience as she could to prepare, that she was a fast learner and intuitive.

“Be bold, original and human if you want to be remembered.”

These are important points to keep in mind as interviewers go through large quantities of potential employees at a time. As resumes sometimes feel similar in some regards between applicants, individuals need to be able to stand out during their interviews. Those who make a lasting impression tend to be the ones who are hired.

Another important tip when regarding this question is not only to be honest about your weaknesses, but to also show that you are actively working towards mitigating the risks that might be involved with the weakness. This can show the interviewers how much you care about improvement, a trait heavily sought after in the workplace.

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