The Best Way to Answer "What's Your Biggest Weakness?"
“You’ve told me about your strengths—now, can you share what you consider to be your biggest weakness?”
It’s the question that nobody likes. Well, except for hiring managers—who ask it pretty frequently—which means that you should be prepared with a well thought out answer.
To help you out, we’ve put one of our favorite tips into a short, minute-long video. Watch as our CEO Kathryn Minshew gives a formula for answering this question from our career expert Lily Zhang, then try it out yourself.
(Can’t watch the video at work? Don’t worry—we’ve also copied the transcript below.)
How to Answer “What Are Your Weaknesses?”
The questions, “What’s your greatest weakness?” or “What do you know you need to work on?” trip a lot of people up, because who wants to talk about the less impressive parts of your skill set or personality?
But here’s the thing: It can be really tough, but it’s important not to lie or to gloss over your weaknesses. Ultimately, most employers want to hire someone who’s reflective about their skill sets and knows what they’re not as good and need to work on.
So here’s one way that I think about answering this question. First, think about something that isn’t your strong suit, whether it’s delegating to others or attention to detail, but think about it back in the past. Show how you’ve taken steps to overcome it, or worked hard on getting better, and mention that you’re still working and working at becoming even better at this skill set.
So for example, if someone said, “What’s your biggest weakness?” you could answer:
“Well, I used to be pretty horrible at public speaking. When I started college, it was a massive problem, and I was just terrified of doing it, and I didn’t do a very good job. So first I took the small step of promising myself that I would speak up in front of really small groups, for example in class. Then, I worked up to taking a public speaking class, which made a big difference. Now, even though I get nervous, I feel like its something that doesn’t completely hold me back, and, in fact, recently I gave a speech at a conference to over 100 people. My hands were shaking the whole time, but I got really good feedback at the end.”
See, that wasn’t so bad. Now just make sure you don’t say something like, “I’m too perfect,” or “I struggle with perfectionism,” because nobody really believes that is your biggest weakness.
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