One of the most common and often annoying personal interview questions is: tell me about your biggest weakness. And it’s no surprise that many interviewees think of it as a pointless question – after all, who would like to boast about his / her weakness or even talk about it.
Many interviewers hold a different notion though and continue to ask this question knowing that they may not get a 100 % honest answer. But no matter which interview you give, one time or the other, you may have to face this question.
Let’s understand the common mistakes candidates make while answering the question, and what are some of the ways, you can use this question to your advantage.
Common mistakes by the candidates
- Trying to disguise your strength as your weakness: Most people’s response to describe their weaknesses is to talk about their strength – basically sharing a desirable quality. For instance, I focus too much on the details, or I am too much of a perfectionist. While it is not necessarily a bad response, most interviewer would see candidates trying the same method, and often times it will appear as if the candidate is actually trying to hide his / her mistake
- Refusing to answer the question: Some candidates would affirm that they don’t have a weakness when asked the question to describe their weaknesses. It is also probably because they have not prepared for the answer properly and want to evade the question without saying anything wrong. Here, again, it gives an impression that they are probably hiding something.
- Telling a weakness which may raise a red flag. Many candidates make the awful mistake of becoming too candid and confess a mistake that they may like to keep it to themselves. For instance, “I find it difficult to get up early and be on time to work”.
So let’s understand how to answer the question what is your biggest weakness?
Things to note while answering the weakness question.
- Focus on your REAL weakness only
- Be authentic while choosing a weakness – it’s better to be sincere than trying to make your answer sound ‘good’.
- Your weakness should not be in conflict with the job requirements at hand. If you are applying for an accountancy position, your answer must not be like you don’t like math, or you often fail to look at the details.
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- You should select a weakness which is ‘fixable’, i.e. something you can overcome or you can be better at with some work and motivation, for example, fear of public speaking
- Be brief while describing your weakness, and avoid sounding too defensive
- Follow up your weakness with points that describes that you are already working on your weakness
Here are a few sample responses to the question:
Well, sometimes I tend to become too honest with people when giving them feedback. This is because as a person I am very straight forward. But I have realized that being diplomatic is a better trait to possess especially in a team environment.
So I had started reading on conflict management, and it opened my eyes to how important it is when you are working in the team environment. Now I am able to give constructive feedback and handle people tactfully.
I get impatient when I see my team mates not delivering to the standards or making too many mistakes.
Over the course of time, I have learnt to approach my team mates with more professionalism while offering constructive criticism, instead of resorting to the blame game of who is responsible for the mistake or passing a judgement.