Turning Your “Greatest Weakness” into Your Greatest Strength

When preparing for a job interview, you need to be ready for questions the hiring manager is likely to ask you. While some job interviews will contain questions that seem to come out of left field (“If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, what would you do?” is a real question that has been asked), others are questions you can expect and prepare for. “What is your greatest weakness?” is a common question for which you should prepare an answer.

Understand What the Question Means

When an interviewer asks about your biggest weakness, they aren’t checking to see if you can list a weakness that is really a strength. The cliché answer that you are “a perfectionist,” is not what the interviewer is looking to hear. They are trying to determine how self-aware you are, and that you are actively looking to self-correct problems.

Sound Proactive

Instead of attempting to make up a weakness, pick something that you are actually working on improving. Don’t just tell them what your greatest weakness is, tell them how you are going to fix it with action. For instance:

“I have a tendency to get too focused on the task I’m working on to the exclusion of other tasks I need to accomplish. I find that by using a combination of To Do lists and effective prioritizing, I’m able to get everything done and be very productive.”

Be Careful with Your Focus

While there really isn’t a right answer to this question, there are plenty of wrong ones. You shouldn’t list a weakness that is actually going to be detrimental to your job prospects. Don’t say that you are “lazy” or that you have a tendency to disappear for two hours during lunch. Instead, look for something that focuses on the hard work that you do and that can be easily fixed.

Keep your answer short, concise and honest and you’ll instantly set yourself apart from all of the “perfectionists” that didn’t prepare a great answer in advance.

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