When it comes to job interviews, we want you to be prepared for any question that comes your way, especially the curve balls. A frequent curve-ball question that is often tossed at you in an interview is the “weakness” question. We understand that pinpointing your flaws with a potential employer can be a bit awkward, so we gathered some tips to help you respond in a way that won’t detract from everything else you bring to the table.
Turn a negative into a positive
No matter the question, every answer you deliver in your interview should be a positive reflection of your work ethic and skills. Identifying your weaknesses may seem counterproductive, but if you respond in just the right way, it is possible for the outcome to work in your favor.
Say this: “I tend to take on a heavy workload.”
Not that: “I lack time management skills.”
Why: The reason we suggest option one is because it gives you the ability to reframe a “weakness” into a positive trait. Saying you “lack time management skills” is a statement that most hiring managers won’t be able to look past, no matter the position you are interviewing for. Think of that as a red flag comment, and don’t use it! However, saying you “tend to take on a heavy workload” is a humble way of saying you are willing to take on multiple projects at once. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand that while being able to multitask is a good thing, spreading yourself too thin is not, which brings us to our next tip.
Follow-up your response with a solution
Due to the sensitive nature of the question, “What is your biggest weakness?”, it’s not difficult to put yourself in a negative light when it comes to your reply. The best way to overcome a potentially destructive comment is to follow it up with ways in which you are working to improve.
If you say this: “I tend to take on a heavy workload.”
Follow-up with this: “To help myself stay on track with each project, I purchased a planner and a file folder to keep everything organized; so far it’s made a great improvement in my productivity.”
Why: Being able to identify something you struggle with and provide a solution that is measurable and relatable shows that you are self-aware and have the ability to problem-solve. It’s important to remember that everyone has weaknesses, the difference lies in those who work on overcoming them. Be that person.
Focus on skills that are less important for the job
Another way to give the hiring manager an answer to their question without negatively impacting your credibility, is to focus on mannerisms that are easy to improve (and then improve them). Saying you are unorganized or bad at multi-tasking is a red flag comment, especially if you aren’t working on a solution. The best way to steer clear of a completely negative outcome is to keep your response as light as possible.
Say this: “I’m not exactly a morning person.”
Not that: “I’m never on time.”
Why: Saying you’re “not a morning person” is a pretty general statement that many people can relate to. As long as you are able to assure the hiring manager that you can arrive to work on time and be productive once you get there, they shouldn’t think twice about your “weakness,” and will likely move on to the next question.
During your interview, it is important to answer all questions honestly and to the best of your ability, and without detracting from what you have to offer. When it comes to identifying a weakness, your delivery is everything, which is why it is important to consider and anticipate how you will respond to the difficult “what is your biggest weakness” question in advance of your interview. Remember to think carefully about what it is you struggle with, and be ready to back up your explanation with a positive solution. Continuous improvement means you will always be mindful of improving yourself, and being your best self is the best way to ensure a mutually satisfying employee/employee relationship.