“What is your greatest weakness?” This simple question can send tremors of fear through even the most confident of candidates. Why is it so scary? People try to make answering this question harder than it needs to be. Most people fear that admitting a weakness will reduce their chances of landing the job. The reality is just the opposite. Properly answered, you gain the hiring manager’s respect and differentiate yourself from the other candidates. Let’s face it, everyone has a weakness.
You can make this question work for you. I don’t recommend trying to outwit the interviewer by giving him a worn answer like “I don’t have a work / life balance.” Hiring managers are smart and view that type of answer as a way of avoiding the question. A hiring manager is looking for self-awareness – weaknesses can only be managed if you recognize them.
This simple process will help you understand the question and answer it in a productive way.
- Identify your weakness. WEAKNESS: You are a control freak and don’t always trust others to do their part of a project as well as you could.
- Evaluate how that weakness can or does impact your job performance. IMPACT: You try and take on too much work and are not viewed as a team player.
- Identify how you manage your weakness so that it does not have a negative impact on your job performance.
Revised answer to the question: “My greatest weakness is that I am too much of a perfectionist and tend to want to control all aspects of a project to ensure it meets my quality standards. I’ve learned that this is not only unrealistic, but also unfair to other team members because it limits their ability to learn and contribute. I now manage this by focusing on doing my part of the project by my standards and supporting other team members as needed. I have come to respect the fact that they are qualified or would not have been a part of the team. Other people’s methods and views are as equally valid as mine.”
The above answer shows self-awareness, deals with the weakness head-on, and demonstrates maturity in the acknowledgement and management of the weakness.
What are your job search challenges? Connect with Elizabeth Danford, Medical Sales Job Search Specialist, Interview Coach, Resume Writer, & Candidate Advocate.