Apr 24

The Dreaded “What’s Your Greatest Weakness?” Question

We have all heard it, “What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?” Yet few people appear to be prepared for it.  Let’s address that now.

There is, of course, no right answer. It is more a matter of how one answers the question. One of my clients answers this question with, “My greatest strength is never to discuss any weaknesses I may have.” I would not recommend that for everyone.

Avoid the answer, “I am a bit of a perfectionist,” as every interviewer has heard this standard reply many times.

The best way to answer this question is to choose something relatively minor, or one which you have overcome with diligent effort. When you name something, make sure it isn’t a skill or requirement which is essential to the position for which you are applying. Having told them your weakness, immediately go on to tell them how you recognized it in yourself and what you are doing about it. For example, “I am a nervous public speaker, but I have been attending Toastmasters and am gradually gaining confidence.” Or, “I have a tendency to get distracted by e-mail, phone calls, etc. when I have a project due, so I have learned to silence my phone, close my door and give myself time to focus on the task at hand.” Always end on a positive note.

Turn a weakness around and make it your strength.  Your next manager will respect you for it.