In the history of interviews, this is probably one of the questions that candidates dread - and employers enjoy the most!
A job interview is all about presenting your best self - which is why answering “What is your biggest weakness?” instils a little fear among our candidates. It brings back memories of trick GCSE questions. If you’re too honest, you might alarm the hiring manager. But, if you’re not honest enough, you’ll lose credibility - after all, we all have weaknesses.
However, with a little practice, this question is not something to worry about and it is easy to give a good, honest answer without sounding like an employer’s nightmare!
Why do employers ask ‘What is your biggest weakness?’
Employers ask candidates about their weaknesses to assess their self-awareness, honesty and ability to improve. They also likely want to see what you have already done to improve upon your weaknesses and what you plan to do to keep improving. It is important to remember that your interviewer doesn't expect you to be perfect!
How do I answer ‘what is my biggest weakness?’
1.Choose a weakness that will not prevent you from succeeding in that role. So, for example, if you are in an interview for a project manager position, avoid choosing timekeeping!
2.Be honest, and choose a real weakness. Many people automatically answer that they are a perfectionist, so think of a better response.
3.Provide an example of how you've worked to improve your area of weakness. If analytics is not essential to the role, but is nevertheless important, an example could be: ‘To tackle this weakness, I've watched some online tutorials on data analytics.’
Three common examples of weaknesses
1.From “I’m a perfectionist” to “I focus too much on the details.”
Having attention to detail is a positive skill, but if you tend to spend too much time on the specifics of a project, or are often taking too long to complete routine tasks, it can be considered a weakness. By mentioning that you focus too much on details, you can demonstrate that you're capable of helping the company avoid mistakes.
2.From “I’m a workaholic” to “I sometimes struggle with work / life balance.”
Finding work / life balance is important to maintain motivation in your job and avoid career burnout. Spending time and energy on your work demonstrates a strong work ethic and ambition, but it is important to find time for family, friends and hobbies - especially if the role will involve working from home. If this is the weakness you want to mention, explain the ways you have made it a point to find a balance between life and work, and how you have seen your work improve as a result.
3.From “I’m untidy and disorganised” to "I struggle with organisation.”
Plenty of people have messy desks, including many managers! This answer works because it is a relatable and fixable weakness. Ensure you mention that disorganisation does not interfere with your ability to do your job, which is critical, but you also admit it might make you less efficient. Remember to mention personal steps you are taking to improve your organisation skills. This will suggest a level of self-awareness.
Three examples of how you can answer the “greatest weakness” question:
1.One of my biggest weaknesses is that I tend to focus too much on the details of a project. I am improving in this area by better monitoring how long I spend on a task or elements of the project. I’ve been experimenting with time-management techniques to help too, such as the Eisenhower Matrix and Pomodoro technique. This way, I can still ensure high quality work, while maintaining my productivity and helping my team to meet deadlines.
2.As I love my work and I am ambitious, I can find it difficult to set boundaries between my work and personal life. To overcome this weakness, I’m making an effort to work smarter, not longer. I now reply to emails in batches, so I don’t waste time working through my inbox after hours. I write down three goals each morning, so that I’m focused. I try to take some calls outside, so that I get some fresh air and exercise. These changes are helping me condense the amount of work I achieve into fewer hours, which means I produce better quality work. I create time to spend with family, and have taken up cycling in my evenings. Having more balance in my life between work and leisure makes me more productive at work.
3.While it hasn't ever impacted my performance, I've noticed my messy desk and cluttered inbox could interfere with my efficiency. Over time, I've learned to set aside time to organise my physical and digital space, and I've seen it improve my efficiency levels throughout the week.
If you are a Meraki Talent candidate and would like guidance on your up-and-coming interview, please reach out to your consultant who will be happy to help.