What is Your Greatest Weakness?

What is Your Greatest Weakness? Here are the 3 Best Answers

During my first-ever job interview, the hiring manager asked “What is your greatest weakness?”. I confidently said, “I am a perfectionist. I do not have any weaknesses.” She smirked and hurriedly ended the interview. The very next day I got a rejection letter. Shattered, I wrote to the manager asking for feedback. She politely informed me that the company was looking for someone more mature and self-aware, a professional who understood their strengths and weaknesses. This was a huge reality check for me, but a wonderful learning moment. 

“What is your greatest weakness?” – this continues to be one of the most popular yet toughest questions to answer in an interview. Read on to find out how to respond to this question and what weaknesses to avoid in any job interview.

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Why Do Interviewers Ask: What is Your Greatest Weakness?

Job InterviewIt comes as no surprise that this question has been asked at interviews for over two decades now and continues to be popular! When recruiters or hiring managers ask about your weaknesses they are generally looking to see if you are self-aware, honest, and most importantly, willing to improve. There is a fine line between confidence and conceit, and recruiters are checking for it before hiring.

It is best not to avoid this question or deny having any weaknesses. Furthermore, a thing that most candidates do is to make a strength seem like a weakness. “I am a perfectionist” is a great example here. While there is no single right answer to this question, there are a few avoidable ones for sure.

Three Weaknesses to Avoid During Interviews

It is perfectly good, to be honest with yourself and the interviewer. However, there are certain traits that managers are looking for in every candidate. All corporate roles demand these skills. It would be best not to sabotage an interview by saying that your biggest weakness is one of the following:

  1. Time Management
  2. Multitasking
  3. Working in a team

To avoid mentioning a weakness that can ruin your chances of landing a job, review the job description to see what exactly the company is looking for. Never mention any of those essential skills as a weakness. 

What is Your Greatest Weakness? Three Ideal Answers

#1: Detail-Oriented

Unlike the ‘perfectionist’ response, being extremely detail-oriented is not a sugar-coated weakness. It has the potential to negatively impact the outcome of your work. When you are focusing on multiple things as part of a project, it is nearly impossible to have the mental capacity to attend to the details. Hence, you might miss the important things or the bigger picture! 

Here is a sample response: 

I have noticed that I continue to focus on the little details even during tight deadlines. In a few instances, this detail-oriented approach has led to delays and frustration. This has been pointed out by superiors and I am trying to work on improving this trait. Based on project timelines, I am now chalking out tasks and prioritizing them by importance. 

Also Read: Transition Into a Lucrative Career in 2023: Certificate Programs You Need to Check Out

#2: Asking For Help

Interview guideAsking for help is not a sign of weakness. In fact, working professionals who ask for help are considered to be strong, confident, and resourceful. Approaching someone for help is an art that needs to be mastered, no matter what kind of role you have or how high up in the organization you are.

Here is a sample response: 

I take great pride in my work and focus on delivering results on time. When I face challenges I try to find solutions on my own quickly. However, this has backfired for me in the past and delayed projects too. Though I am very shy to ask for help, I am slowly changing this attitude and approaching colleagues who have unique expertise. I understand that I cannot manage everything on my own at all times and have to look at the bigger picture. 

Also Read: How to Choose a Career in 2023: 4 Easy Steps to Follow

#3: Giving Feedback

Constructive feedback is a vital part of every corporate role. As a manager, the feedback you provide will help team members hone their skills and grow. While giving feedback it must be professional, structured, and unbiased. Focus on the problem or behavior, not on the person. 

Here is a sample response: 

In the past, I have avoided providing feedback because I do not wish to hurt a team member in any way. Fragile egos, bad timing, and/or poor communication can hamper the working relationship. However, I do understand the value of feedback and I am consciously working on ways to improve. I now follow the McKinsey 3-step feedback formula:

Step 1: Specific action, event, or behavior someone has to change

Step 2: The impact of that behavior

Step 3: A recommendation for what the person could do differently next time

Also Read: Top 5 Steps to Help You Tap Into the Hidden Job Market

Get Ready for the Future

Possessing strong technical knowledge is the keystone to your professional stability and growth. It will help your profile stand apart from the crowd. The half-life of technical skills is only five years. So, professionals need to continuously learn and upskill as the market demands. 

In association with the world’s top universities, Emeritus offers high-quality online courses across a wide range of topics. If you wish to strengthen your technical skills or learn new ones, now is the time.  Explore our course portfolio today and crack those technical interviews! 

By Manasa Ramakrishnan

Write to us at content@emeritus.org

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