What’s Your Biggest Weakness? . . . . . . Geez!
by Janis Murray
It’s the most feared and inevitable question in any interview. What’s your biggest weakness? The truly freaked out may answer, “Well, I don’t think I have any.” So bad, this is thankfully rare. Essentially comparing oneself to a deity is never wise in any situation. The more likely answer among the stunned usually chooses a personal characteristic that’s “not too bad” like, “I’m too much of a perfectionist,” or, “I’m too organized.” Oh come on, really? A non-answer like this simply reveals avoidance incarnate. No joke, these are surprisingly popular. I hear them all the time in all age groups!
To effectively answer this pivotal question, one must first realize the people who conduct employment, internship and merit scholarship interviews do hundreds! They know these pat answers like a Chinese food menu, “Ho hum, he’s Column A,” or “She’s Column B.” You’re instantly “one of those” afraid and hiding.
Instead, realize the question will be asked in some form and plan your answer in advance during your interview prep. Think in depth about challenges you have faced, how you dealt with them and what you learned. Be exact, using a real example you faced. A weakness is, in reality, a challenge, and you don’t have to use the word “weakness” just because they do. At its essence, the biggest weakness question reveals that they know you are going to hit bumps and obstacles. Everybody does. What they really want to know is how are you going to act when you do? Are you going to freeze or whine, blame somebody else, or try to hide a mistake that could cost the company millions? Or are you going to show integrity, own up and soldier through? How? Do you know yourself well enough to have recognized so far what you could be better at and address it? That’s valuable!
So, flip the creepy blip to the positive. Realize it’s an opportunity to reveal more about yourself and what you have to offer. When you think about it this way, the biggest weakness question is actually a great opportunity to show your grit and the coping skills you’ve learned to apply to every new challenge, stronger and more capable than before. Failures and struggles help one grow. Answer the negative honestly and briefly, then explain your steps of growth with provable, positive points. Through this, weakness morphs, rightly so, into quantifiable strength.
Copyright 2016 by Janis Murray
All rights reserved.