What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

Image © baranq

Image © baranq

By Stephanie Elaine Cavanaugh

Interviews are stressful on their own. You’re nervous, uncomfortable, and maybe feeling a little out of your element. So when the all too common question, “What is your greatest weakness?”  gets thrown into the mix, stutters, brain-blanks, and harm-inducing deficiency statements are made.

[Insert foot in mouth]

Avoiding disaster means understanding the purpose of the question and... preparing for it  .

So, what is a hiring manager really looking for when asking this question? They are looking for a hidden strength, specifically, the ability to recognize weakness and correct it. How can you demonstrate that? The key is to choose a weakness that isn’t vital to the position, yet isn’t so far removed that it loses relevancy. Then, you demonstrate that you’ve either corrected it, or are currently addressing it.

Here are some examples:

1. I’ve recognised that my public speaking skills are not strong and I feel nervous when addressing a large group. To counter this, I’ve joined a Toastmasters group to further develop and practice my public speaking skills. I now have increased confidence and improved speech-making ability. I believe with more practice, I’ll be able to turn this weakness into an asset.

2. In the past, I wasn’t comfortable with [insert software program] and I knew this put me at a disadvantage. In light of this, I signed up for an online training program through the developer. I’m now proficient with the program and have been able to utilize it in several projects.

3. I’ve struggled with grant writing in the past and I recognized that being good at this would benefit future programs. I began a Grant Writing Specialization Certificate program and I’ll complete it and earn the certification next month.

Remember to target a relevant area, but not too  relevant. Then, paint the picture of improvement. Show you hold the hidden strength of self-evaluation and active self-improvement.


Want to know more about job search? JS101 (a program of the Select Center) offers free classes on a variety of job search topics. Check out our calendar at www.js101.org for more information and to view our current schedule of classes. Registration is not required.

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