How to Answer the “What is your Biggest Weakness?” Interview Question

The most popular negative question asked by employers and the one most feared by prospective candidates is ‘what is your biggest weakness?’

The secret to success in most things in life is preparation, and interviews are no different in that regard. Many candidates quite rightly spend hours putting together preparatory notes dealing with every conceivable aspect of their employment history and skills portfolio. Yet even the most primed candidate often struggles when it comes to dealing with negative questioning.

Here we explore how to tackle this question head on and give an answer which moves you one step closer to your new job.


What is your biggest weakness interview question

Practical tips on tackling the ‘biggest weakness’ question

Being honest with your potential employer is essential if you want to play the long game of a happy and rewarding career. The key at interview is to fine tune that raw honesty using specific techniques which will underpin your position as a candid and self-aware candidate:

Pre-emptive preparation

Anticipate the ‘weakness’ question and prepare accordingly – taking this proactive approach will mean you can carefully think through what you want to say. Effective preparation will help you deliver

Anticipate the ‘weakness’ question and prepare accordingly – taking this proactive approach will mean you can carefully think through what you want to say. Effective preparation will help you deliver a self-assured and self-aware answer.

Do not deny your weakness

Everyone has weaknesses – we are all only human. Saying you have no weaknesses may simply be a symptom of nerves or be fuelled by the desire to do well, but it will be a major red flag to your potential employer. They may interpret your response as an indication of a lack of integrity and propensity to tell lies.

Filter out show-stopper weaknesses

While we all have weaknesses, not all are appropriate to share at interview. Admitting to a lack of organisational skills if you are for instance applying for a project co-ordinator position is an obvious example of a weakness selection fail. Never admit to a weakness which would stop you doing the job in question well.

Choose your weakness carefully

Owning up to a minor weakness and explaining how you are addressing it is an excellent strategy. Pick a weakness that does not diminish your job potential and which could conceivably be corrected.

A good example is revealing a degree of nerves when addressing large groups. This is a weakness which is extremely common and can be dealt with through skills development and practice. Take it up a level by setting out how you are already tackling the weakness on your own initiative. This will turn a negative into a positive from the employer’s perspective.

Another great option for young candidates is to reveal a lack of experience as a ‘weakness.’ This is an unavoidable ‘weakness’ for those starting out on the career ladder and can be effectively countered by expressing the desire to get more experience in the areas covered by the job.

Counter with confidence

Having done all the groundwork deliver your answer in an assured manner. This shows you are not intimidated by the question and are willing to be honest. Even the greatest response can be significantly undermined by a shaky speech. Interviewers are trained to listen to not only what is said, but also how it is said. Your nervousness may be misinterpreted as an unwillingness to tell the truth.

Applying these techniques will boost your chances of successfully dealing with negative questioning at interview. To read more examples of common interview questions vital for effective preparation learn from the experts at Interview Skills Consulting.

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