How to answer “what is your biggest weakness?” in a job interview
“What is your biggest weakness?” is a real tricky interview question to answer, whilst also serving as a great opportunity to talk about an area that you may currently be improving on and how you are going about doing so.
What the interviewer is certainly looking for, as always, is the truth; so talk about a weakness that you have.
The key is to turn this supposed weakness into something positive related to your professional life
Please, please, please, do not respond with the following, ‘I work too hard’ or ‘I don’t have any weaknesses’.
The first, they have heard many times before and it’s almost a clichéd self-deprecating statement. The latter is, of course, untrue as we all have weaknesses or areas to improve.
Turning a negative into a positive
The personal example that I provide, is my struggle with time management.
It’s always been an area of development for me and I believe that it is something I can continuously improve upon. But if I was to give a definitive answer saying, ‘I struggle to manage my time’, it is a truly negative response and doesn’t come across well.
Always avoid negativity in an interview… particularly about past employers!
Provide a solution
Ok, here’s a flailing generalisation, but the overarching business goal of most companies (alongside profit, of course), is to provide a product or service that solves a problem or facilitates an easier user experience, therefore, they are looking for this ‘problem-solving’ attribute from their employees too. By identifying your weaknesses, you can expose a crucial opening for self-development and personal achievement by overcoming these ‘weaknesses’ — hello problem solver!
In fact, see a weakness as an opportunity for improvement, even if you’re confident in that particular area — there’s always room to improve and grow. Additionally, try labelling your weakness as something with slightly less deprecatory connotations such as ‘an area to develop’, ‘an opportunity for growth’ or ‘room for improvement’.
For time management, I’ve found online project tools like Trello to prioritise activities, or simply Astro to organise my e-mail inboxes better. I also enjoy the nostalgia of pen and paper; writing down a to-do list or identifying key items to achieve for the day, then simply crossing them out once I’m done.
I’ve actually found this to improve my time management on a daily basis, helping me to prioritise activities and ultimately elevate my performance. For example, I’ve implemented a system where certain days will focus on: meeting talent, meeting clients, specific times to complete my admin etc. all organised through the combination of my calendar, Trello, and my trusty notepad.
By providing an overarching approach to overcome your weakness, whilst digging a little deeper into specifics relative to the job you’re applying for, you are giving a full and solid answer.
If your weakness is something that you feel the business can help you improve on, then let them know.
You could say something like:
I noticed that your company has a yearly budget for self-development, I would look to use this to attend relevant industry events or complete an Academy XI course to learn more about Service Design, which I feel closely relates to the scope of this role. As a result, I’ll be able to liaise in a common language with other areas of the business, allowing for seamless integration.