The Weakness Question

If you search for “common interview questions,” one that will always rear its ugly head is “what’s your greatest weakness?” I’m entirely convinced interviewers ask this question for no other reason than to watch candidates squirm, but nonetheless, here’s what you should know about this dreaded inquiry. Michael Scott once said “why don’t I tell you what my greatest weaknesses are? I work too hard, I care too much, and sometimes I can be too invested in my job.” The hilarity of this scene exists in the fact that we can all laugh at how ridiculous Michael Scott’s answer is, yet so many candidates commit the exact same cardinal sin of the dreaded “weaknesses” question. For the love of the interviewing gods, please do not answer this question like Michael Scott; you can, and you should, admit a weakness—a real weakness.

The relevance of this question, other than just making candidates squirm, is to verify that the candidate is able to acknowledge their own weakness, is aware enough to do so, and can also show that they are actively working on improving those shortcomings. These are all necessary skills for someone who is able to work on a team, is able to adapt to various situations, and, quite frankly, isn’t so pompous they think they’re perfect. Personally, I have no interest in working alongside someone who thinks their only weakness is that they work too hard…I promise your interviewer isn’t going to be interested either, and then, you’re not even going to have the chance to show them how hard you work, because they aren’t going to hire you!

Through your interview preparation, you should prepare an answer to this question, and in it, you should be confident in divulging your weakness. In your answer, you should include an explanation of how you realized this was your weakness, but also a delineation of the specific research, plans, and actions you have implemented to continue to improve yourself in this area. The balance that is extremely difficult to strike in this conversation with an interviewer is to be particularly wary of crossing the line into self-deprecation. You’re allowed to have weaknesses. You’re allowed to identify them, talk about them, and improve upon them. In fact, all the best leaders do! However, you shouldn’t allow this question to send you into a spiral of negativity. In order to successfully answer this question, it is absolutely necessary to balance an uplifting, hopeful, and positive delivery in your explanation of a rather negative topic. Be confident in your weakness, and plan ahead when trying to explain them to a potential employer. I promise they’ll be impressed if you can successfully strike the balance!

Do you want to practice talking about your weaknesses in a positive way? Book an interview consultation with us today!