The Right Way to Answer Your ‘Biggest Weakness’ in an Interview
During a job interview, the dreaded weakness question will invariably come up. It may be phrased directly, with the employer asking you to describe your biggest weakness. You may hear an alternate phrasing: What would your boss say is your biggest weakness? What is the biggest mistake you’ve made on a job? Describe a project you worked on where something went wrong?
No matter how the question is asked, it’s designed to have you reveal something that would hurt your chances as a candidate. The employer is searching for character flaws, and hoping you’ll blurt it out without thinking.
Here’s how to answer this question the right way and improve your odds of getting hired.
How not to answer
A lot of candidates try to handle this question cleverly, with counter-spin responses like “I work too hard,” or “I’m too honest,” or “I pay too much attention to detail.” While most intend to inject some humor into the situation, the problem is that employers have heard these responses before—and usually no longer find them funny.
Another wrong way to answer this question is with non-work-related answers, such as “I’m not a very good cook” or “I can’t fold laundry the right way.”
Answer with specifics
In responding to this question, the key is to minimize the potential impact of what you reveal as a weakness. Avoid pointing to a general skill area where you’re not as strong as you could be—instead, mention something highly specific.
For example: If you struggle with public speaking, don’t name “communication” as your weak point. Discuss how you didn’t have many opportunities to speak in front of large groups in your last position (or during college, if you’re a graduate looking for work), and stress that you’re looking forward to the opportunity to improve.
Avoid dropping a deal-breaker
The position you’re interviewing for will have certain core requirements and expectations. If you tell the interviewer that you’re weak in a core area—such as mentioning you’re a less-than-stellar public speaker, and you’re applying for job that requires regular group presentations—you’ll put yourself firmly on the do-not-hire list.
While you’re preparing for the interview, make sure to review the job description and details thoroughly. Be ready to answer the “biggest weakness” question with an issue that won’t impact your primary responsibilities, but will benefit you (and the hiring company) once you brush up on those skills.
Weakness doesn’t have to be a bad thing
Keep in mind that a weakness is not a crippling flaw—it’s simply an area that can’t be classified as a strength. Come up with skills that don’t necessarily come to you naturally, but that you can handle with extra preparation.
When you present a weakness as a non-essential yet helpful skill that you can grasp with practice, you’ll be able to pass this dreaded interview question with ease.
For more information or to discuss interview strategies, reach out to our experienced behavioral health recruiting team at PsychPros today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.