When you go for an interview, there are a few questions that are bound to come up. Usually the likes of, ‘why do you think we should give you the job’ and ‘tell me about yourself’, but there is always the dreaded ‘what is your greatest weakness?’ No one ever really knows how to prepare for it, and most of us are pretty fed up of being asked it because we think it’s pointless. Yet, there is a reason the interviewer is asking you; it’s not because they want to know your actual weaknesses, they want to see how well you handle the question.
This question can come in many different forms – ‘what do you struggle with?’, ‘what would your colleagues say is your greatest weakness?’ for example, so you really have to be prepared for this one!
There are a couple of ways you can answer this:
Firstly, you could find a weakness that’s not actually relevant to the job, and then turn it into a positive. For example, you are addicted to gardening. It’s not relevant to the job, but you can turn it into a positive by explaining that it shows you’re passionate and have a creative side. This also means that the employer won’t have to worry about this weakness as it is never likely to be challenged.
It is all about turning your weakness into a strength. You could say, for example, that you are very self-critical and you like to be rigorous in your work. This can then be turned to your advantage and you could say that you are meticulous in your work and are careful, but you recognise your weakness to self-critique and you are working on it.
On the other hand, there a couple of things you shouldn’t do when answering this question. For one, don’t refuse to answer it. You may not have prepared for this question, and it will become apparent if you say you don’t have any weaknesses or you can’t think of one. This will just show the interviewer that you are either underprepared or can make it seem like you are hiding something.
Also, don’t reveal a weakness that raises red flags with the interviewer as this will not go down well, and may ruin your chances of progressing onto the next stage or even getting the job at all!
If your answer to the question is vague, or the interviewer knows that your answer isn’t 100% truthful, then be prepared for a follow up question or some more probing. It’s better to be prepared before the interview and provide a great answer!
What are your least favourite interview questions?