“So what is your greatest weakness?”
In this video, I’m going to give you the best sample answer and framework to ace this common and very annoying interview question, every single time.
This question drives me nuts, and I’m sure it drives you nuts too.
There are way better and way more important questions for interviewers to ask.
But oftentimes, interviewers are using an ancient playbook…
Since we can’t control what we’re asked in interviews, rather than getting ourselves in a lather about the questions themselves, it’s important to work on the answers in order to make yourself seem swell, qualified, and a good fit for the role.
What’s the Purpose Of The Interview Question: What’s Your Greatest Weakness?
While “what’s your greatest weakness” seems like an antiquated question, and it is, what the interviewer can gather from this question are a few things:
That you’re self aware
That you are always working to improve
That you’re honest
When we know what insights the interviewer can gain from our answer, we can really use that to our advantage.
What To Avoid When Answering: What’s Your Greatest Weakness?
Now there are a few things we want to avoid when we’re answering this question.
First and foremost, we don’t want to use the age-old tactic of using our strengths as our weaknesses.
This is the oldest trick in the book and interviewers can see right through it.
Secondly, we want to avoid incriminating ourselves by talking about things that might reveal lack of ethics or morals.
We want to avoid using a personality characteristic, work modality, or accessibility need as a weakness.
So we don’t want to say things like:
“Sometimes I laugh when I’m nervous and clients don’t like it.”
“I don’t work well when people interrupt me to ask questions”
“I don’t type very quickly because of an injury and need voice to text to be as productive as possible.”
And finally, we want to avoid negative language, including the term weakness. So things like:
“I’m bad at…”
“I’m not good at…”
“I’m weak with…”
“My weakness is…”
“I lack skill in…”
“I’m not very strong at…”
What To Include When Answering: What’s Your Greatest Weakness?
So let’s talk about what to include in our answers.
We want to share an actual area of development or a skill or strength that we worked to improve.
We want to give context to how we knew we needed to work on it.
We want to give an example of how we improved.
And finally we want to share the positive outcome of this improvement.
Some career coaches will recommend that you avoid sharing an area of development that relates to the job, and I disagree.
You can really level up your answer to this question by choosing an area of development that relates very specifically to the role you’re interviewing for, and how you worked on this skill so much that you achieved positive results and solutions that align with exactly the employers business needs.
It’s the ultimate comeback story, and who doesn’t love a great comeback story?
Best Sample Answer and Script To The Common Interview Question: What’s Your Greatest Weakness?
First and foremost, let’s always remember that an interview is a conversation. So we don’t want to use non-conversational language, otherwise we’ll come off as robotic and rehearsed, rather than confident and prepared.
Secondly, we want to make sure that we are answering the questions asked. So if they ask what are your weaknesses, and you only provide one answer, then you’re not exactly answering the question asked.
Your ability to exhibit active listening is just as important as your ability to answer questions well.
Identify The Area of Development
“When I was [working at company name], I noticed that [a strength of yours] that I sometimes [insert your area of development].”
Example: “When I was working at TD, I noticed that I was so eager to execute on new projects that I sometimes overlooked a few details before I initiated projects”
How You Became Aware of Area of Development
“While I [always/frequently/consistently] [achieved my core focus in my role], this [area of development] showed up [when/where/how?]”
Example: “While I always delivered projects on-time and on budget, the fact that I overlooked a few details showed up in a few situations where I had to lead additional meetings with project stakeholders in order to clarify action plans”
How You Changed Or Worked To Improve
“Knowing/Realizing/Being aware of this I [thing(s) you did differently to improve upon your area of development]”
Example: “Knowing this, I took the time to study and clarify certain details with stakeholders before I kicked off projects and put a plan in place.”
“This led to [positive outcome from working on your area of development]”
Example: “This led to more efficient projects and fewer meetings.”
Level Up: Link Positive Outcome To Solution Future Employer Needs or Their Pain Points
“By working on this opportunity for improvement I was also able to [include a bonus benefit or positive outcome that your future employer would appreciate for themselves]”
Example: “By working on this opportunity for improvement, I was also able to uncover an issue with the way our project management software had previously been configured, which I reported to our PMO and had resolved.”
“What is your greatest weakness” isn’t a question that exists to trip you up. While it’s not the most insightful question ever, it does give a peek into who you are as a professional. And if you use this awareness to your advantage, you can really ace this common, yet annoying, interview question.
What interview question drives you the craziest? Or what interview question do you always struggle with? Tell me in the comments below.