When you’re in an interview, your main goal is to present yourself in the best light possible. Your potential employer, however, has different motives. While you’re trying to make your skills and experience shine, a hiring manager may be looking for reasons to eliminate you from consideration during an interview.
One of the best ways to test your fit for a position is to pitch curveball prompts or questions at you to see how you respond to them. Of these classic curveball prompts, the most difficult to answer remains:
Tell me about your biggest weakness…
When this prompt is given to you by a hiring manager, it can be hard to know exactly what to say (if you’re not prepared.) Here are three ways you can gracefully make it through answering this interview prompt and show a hiring manager that you’re a proactive and qualified candidate.
You may be struggling to do this already in an interview. Interviews are stressful! But it’s important to take a deep breath and make sure you’re projecting calm and confidence when you answer this prompt. In an interview, your attitude should sell what you’re saying.
If you’re talking about a weakness of yours, don't slump your shoulders in shame or tug at your collar out of anxiety. What you want to say with your body language is: “I’m self aware enough to know what my weakness is, but I’m mature enough to not be ashamed that I’m not perfect. I’m owning it.”
While it may be tempting to say something like “My weakness is that I work too hard” or something else that isn’t truly a weakness...know that this will ultimately hurt you more than it would help you. No hiring manager wants to hear a non-answer or a dodge to this prompt, what they’re really looking to see is how you’ve discovered and dealt with a weakness of yours. If you say you have no weaknesses you avoid answering the prompt and a hiring manager will be left with the impression that you’re not a self aware employee with a will to improve.
Good question! Here are a few example weaknesses you can bring up if they apply to you. Taking an inventory of your weaknesses is just as valuable as taking an inventory of your strengths and skills. When you learn what your weaknesses are and own them, you take control of your growth as an employee, and perhaps as a person too!
In order to properly paint a picture of how you have been proactive about solving issues in your work-life, it helps to tell a story. Like all good stories, yours should have a beginning, middle and end.
My greatest weakness is organization. I noticed this while I was working for (Company). I wasn’t getting my work done as quickly as my coworkers and when I compared our workspaces I noticed that many of them had set up organizational systems whereas mine was disorganized. This was causing me to lose time as I tried to do my tasks with no system in place.
I pulled some of my coworkers aside to ask them how they organized their spaces so I could get some advice on howI could organize my workspace. With their advice and a consideration for my preferences, I set up an organizational system that worked best for me and greatly improved my efficiency.
After I left (Company) I made sure to implement similar systems at my workspaces going forward to ensure that my tendency toward being disorganized doesn’t affect my productivity in future positions.
Telling your story communicates that you are:
If you don’t have an example from your past, that’s okay! Instead of speaking in the past tense, frame your story as a hypothetical. Instead of talking about what you have done to improve upon your weakness, tell them what you could do to improve upon your weakness in a work setting.
This will show your hiring manager that you have given your weakness some deep thought, and have a plan to prevent it from impacting your work going forward.