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How to Answer “What Is Your Biggest Weakness?”

Posted by Scott Fiore on August 26, 2019

It’s the moment you dreaded. The interview started pleasantly enough. You went through some small talk, a list of your qualifications, some banter about where you went to school, and a long recitation of your best qualities.

But now the discussion has taken a turn toward an interrogation. The trick question of all trick questions has been asked: “What is your biggest weakness?”

It’s a difficult query that requires self-reflection and a higher degree of openness than most people usually allow themselves in front of strangers. However, it’s also a common question you’ll face at most interviews. You should have an answer prepared.

With that in mind, here are some tips in crafting your response to the dreaded “what’s your biggest weakness?”

Be Honest …

You want to be honest in your interview. Part of the purpose of the “biggest weakness” question is to test a candidate’s ability to handle a seemingly unwinnable situation. They want to see how you’ll handle the pressure.

Try to evade the question and you’ve effectively failed the test. They know you have weaknesses, so presenting yourself as perfect will only hurt your cause. So, don’t attempt the cutesy tactic of listing an obvious strength as a weakness (“if anything, I’m too dedicated to my work”) and don’t try to sell a minor quirk as a major shortcoming (“I can never remember where I parked”).

Instead, provide an honest, thoughtful answer. Choose a real weakness that you’ve had to overcome. Done right, the response will humanize you and underline your integrity and forthrightness.

… But Don’t Veer Toward Confession

So, there’s honesty. And then there are the kinds of things best left to a therapist’s couch (or maybe even a lawyer’s office). Don’t respond to the “biggest weakness” question by launching into a self-scourging litany of all your shortcomings.

You’re not in the interview to take a fearless moral inventory. You’re there to convince them you are a competent and reliable employee. As such, don’t overdo your response. Stick to fixable struggles that won’t tank the interview when you bring them up.

Also, consider how you’ll transition out of your answer. You don’t want to dwell. You want to give a brief, honest response, and move on to the next step. That way, you don’t talk yourself right out of a job.

Concentrate on How You’ve Addressed the Weakness

In any work environment, bad situations will come up. People will make mistakes and problems will arise. Managers care most about how those issues get fixed. They are looking for problem solvers.

The “biggest weakness” question provides a clear invitation to detail your skills in this area. You have a problem (your particular weakness). What have you done to fix it?

That solution should provide the theme of your answer. Don’t spend time dwelling on the weakness. Dedicate the bulk of your answer to the steps you have taken to counteract it.

Interviews get less stressful when you feel confident you are perfect for the position.

Working with an industry-leading recruiter, like TriStarr, helps give you this confidence. We can steer you towards placements that will accentuate your best qualities and set you on the road to your optimal career development.

Contact TriStarr today to learn more.