“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”- Oprah Winfrey
Interviews are nerve racking; there is no getting around that. But, they are a necessary part of career advancement. Being prepared not only reduces the inevitable stress that comes with interviewing, it gives you an opportunity to truly get to know your potential employer.
One of the best ways to walk into an interview prepared is to have an understanding of the questions you will be asked. One of these questions is almost always “What do you feel your biggest weakness is?” This one question can either set you apart as a top candidate, or have them view you as a liability.
PrideStaff Financial has some tips on how to sell an employer on your biggest weakness:
Pair your weakness with its corresponding strength.
Weakness and strength are the same as Yin and Yang. For every up there is a down, for every left there is a right, for every weakness there is strength. Let’s say, for example, you don’t have as much hands-on job experience as the next person they interview. This is your weakness. You have a basic understanding, the education, but not as much job experience. Your strength then becomes your large capacity to learn. Explain that this weakness allows you to walk into the job without any preconceived notions and makes you highly trainable. Using your weakness to explain why you’re the best fit for the job shows your employer your capacity for growth.
Mention a weakness that’s a “hidden” strength.
Are you a workaholic? Are you your own worst critic? Do you feel the need to please those around you? These are considered weaknesses wrapped in strengths. If you work hard to please people, then you’re telling your potential employer that you go above and beyond for the job. You also recognize your top priority is your work responsibilities and that you’re learning to balance that with what can be done for others. If you’re critical of your own work then you pride yourself on excellence and doing the best job you can. This also means you can go to extremes to make something perfect, which can end up being counter productive. To deal with this weakness trust the quality of your work and focus more on completing other tasks. Do you see what’s being done here? You’re showing an employer that not only do you recognize your weakness but have taken corrective measures to balance it out with your strengths (which coincidently also happen to be hidden inside your weakness).
Mention a weakness that will not jeopardize your chances for the job.
When you are asked about your weaknesses, you don’t want to sound unrealistic. You also don’t want to mention a weakness that could jeopardize your potential for the job. If you are interviewing for a position that deals with record keeping, the last thing you want to do is mention a weakness that details how unorganized you are. Unless you have a strong strategy for explaining how you combat this weakness to do the best job you can, you might be better off mentioning a different weakness. Go over the job description again, get familiar with what they are looking for, the company’s mission statement, and any bio information on the person you’re interviewing with. This will help you strategize how to discuss your weakness in the interview. Practice your answer to this question as often as you can beforehand. Use a spouse or a friend as your interviewer, and think about what you would want to hear if you were on the other side of the table. This will help you sound comfortable and realistic when talking to the interviewer.
Remember, no one is perfect and your interviewer understands this. They are not expecting you to be perfect, but they are expecting you to be able to take responsibility and to show them that you know how to overcome challenges.