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Interview Question (2) – 'What is your greatest weakness?'

In my last post (check it here), I stated four things you need to do to answer the above question. In this post, I will be providing possible answers that can place you in the frontline.

Before you give your response, you have to consider some things, the first being the type of job applied for; in a bank interview for example, saying that you are not good with numbers will certainly not get you the job. There’s no one best answer, really; however, avoiding a bad response is what’s more important. Below are a few hints to help give you a better chance at fastening your grip on that job with this question.
1.    Never mention an obvious weakness.

The motive here is not to lie but to present yourself the best way you can. It should be a real weakness, but not something to disqualify, undervalue or misrepresent you. You could opt for a weakness that has components of strengths; e.g. “I place too much emphasis on details, for this reason, it sometimes becomes arduous meeting deadlines…” You can also add a real experience where the weakness affected your work, perhaps your response is cliché; your experience makes it unique. Avoid responses like “I work too hard” (cliché) or “I hate working with people”… even if you do.

2.    Cautiously explain how you are resolving the problem.

This is very crucial to answering this question. To convince your interviewer that you are competent for the job, don’t wait to be probed for further explanations, calmly take out time to explain the actions you are taking to mend the hitch e.g. “I place too much emphasis on details, for this reason, it sometimes becomes arduous meeting deadlines; so, I have begun associating with people who focus more on the big picture and I work with reminders to keep track of projects too. I find that by doing these, I am able to meet deadlines and also proceed to other tasks.” Be as brief as possible, a little addition here and there but, do not digress completely from the main point you are driving at.

3.    You need to have answers to this question before any interview.

The place of adequate preparation before an interview cannot be overemphasized, particularly for this question, as interviewees often find it difficult to think up a suitable response at the spur of the moment. It goes without saying that the first step towards acing any interview should be to sufficiently prepare for the interview (and the job).

Note these:
–    Have at least three different answers to this question as some interviewers prefer to ask for 3 greatest weaknesses.
–    It’s safe to add a strength that’s clearly relevant to the specific job.
–    Some interviewers would rather pose this question indirectly so be attentive during the interview to know when you are required to talk about your greatest weakness. A similar question could be: “Tell me one thing about you that can limit your ability to do this job?”
Sample responses:
“I tend to be overly optimistic about deadlines, which means I have to make conscious effort to plan more for the unexpected.”
“One of the reasons I like being in the back office setting is that I rarely have to directly deal with customers. I like people; I’m not just the best sales person in the world. I feel I’m much better suited in a support role.”
“I’m not so good at public speaking; however I’ve been attending seminars on public speaking and as a member in a non-profit organisation, I recently took up a role that occasionally requires me to speak to a large audience.”

Please share your comments in the section below. Best wishes at your interview(s)!

Nathan Jeffery
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