As with many traditional interview questions, I am not sure if this question is truly relevant. I mean, wouldn’t this question better be asked of ex-managers? After all, do many of us really have an objective view of ourselves?
Nonetheless, interviewers love this question, and it is rarely answered well. Most candidates mumble about being too self-critical or working too hard.
When employers ask you to identify your greatest weaknesses, they are looking for the three things:
- Honesty. They want to know if you’re honest enough to give your weakness points in interview. Remember that if you get hired, your professional weaknesses will come up in one way or another, so being open about them in advance is the best option.
- Self-awareness, and the ability to self-assess and recognize the areas where you need to improve.
- Willingness to improve. We all have weaknesses – even the recruiters themselves. That’s why they don’t expect you to lie about it. What recruiters do expect, however, is that you’re willing (and trying) to improve.
How to Answer, “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”
Never say, ‘I don’t have weaknesses’ or, ‘I work too hard.’
These answers will suggest you’re just not serious.
My recommendation would be a very personalized version of this statement. Here is what can be a good answer for weakness question in interview:
‘I take myself and my self-improvement very seriously. I regularly assess what I would consider the key performance indicators for my work and rank my performance. I outline where I have improved the most and why and where I have improved the least and what I can do about that in the near and longer term.’
My key performance indicators the following:
• Being present and active in my work every day
• Engaging at a high level with clients and team members
• Doing the important things every day
• Maintaining a pipeline of activity that will ensure medium term success
• Taking time to consider and act on the actions that will ensure long-term success
• Work/Life balance
Generally, I can say that I am always improving in all areas – even just a little. I guess that is because practice mindfulness. My weakest area is always ‘doing the most important thing every day’ because urgent is not always important. I do, however, strive to find and focus on that ‘one-thing’ every day.’
What I have tried to do with my answer on weaknesses is to control the narrative and make even my weaknesses appear as strengths. Don’t get drawn into the game on criticizing yourself. Instead give some thought to your best self and present your winning side.
Avoid the cliches and you will be memorable.