Weakness, me? It’s the interview question that candidates dread and some employers love to ask, “What’s your greatest weakness?”
A common fear among jobseekers is that answering this question flies in the face of the goal of the interview–to convey how awesome you are. Merely answering this question is an acknowledgment that not everything about you is awesome. Here’s the kicker – the interviewer already knows that!
So, rather than a “gotcha” moment, the weakness question is intended to determine how self-aware and honest the job seeker is. Stating you do not have a weakness or attempting to spin a weakness into a strength is not a genuine response. Successfully answering this question often depends on how much reflection the job seeker has done upon areas of his/her life that offer room for professional growth. Most employers are seeking employees who have a genuine desire for professional development and personal growth.
A good strategy for answering the weakness question is to state a true weakness coupled with how you are striving to improve upon it. Do not throw up any red flags for the employer by stating a weakness that involves a critical function of the job; for example, if the position is in the customer service field, don’t discuss how you often lose patience with people. If you do have a weakness in a fundamental area of the job, reassess if you should be applying. In some instances, it may be important to address the deficit before going on a job interview.
So, what might an effective response look like?
One example could be: “I tend to be somewhat shy in large groups of people and in the past have avoided big networking events. I have been making a concerted effort to attend at least two professional conferences a year and to do what I can to approach and talk to more people at these events. I don’t yet feel confident in these settings, but I do not dread them as much as I once did and have made some important connections in the field.”
The truth is every job seeker and employed professional has areas for improvement. It’s the individual who assesses himself honestly to find ways to improve that will move forward in his career and be competitive in the job market.