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How to Answer: What's Your Biggest Weakness?

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As someone who's been on either side of the interview table, I've asked and been asked this question many times.

What's your biggest weakness?

It's a doozy. Your answer helps the interviewer determine how prepared you are for interviews in general, since its one of the most common interview questions asked, and helps them understand how you react when asked difficult questions in general.

How not to answer the question:

  • Never, of course, say that you don't have a weakness. We always have things to work on! This is another reason why preparing for this question in advance is so important.
  • Another pro tip: don't say being a perfectionist is your biggest weakness. We all believe we produce great work! This is usually interpreted as a cop out on answering the question. Be real in your response and take responsibility for having faults - it'll make the interviewer trust you even more.

How to answer the question:

  • Give a concrete example of something you've gotten feedback on AND how you're working towards improving upon it. (That is, if you're working towards improving it. Don't lie if you're not!)

Great ways I've heard or used in the past:

  • "I'm not a great public speaker. While I feel comfortable speaking in public, my tone doesn't come across as confident as I want it to, and I've been told that I "um" a lot when I'm nervous. Over the last year I joined Toastmasters and worked towards my Competent Communicator milestone, giving ten speeches."
  • "One thing I'm working on is becoming better at delegating. Since I'm a relatively new manager, it's a new skill for me that I know I can get better at. I've talked to my direct and indirect reports about where they see their careers headed, in order to figure out what on my list I could give to them that would really help them succeed and grow."
  • "I've gotten great feedback on my ability to create a strategy and understand the field, but I don't always have every detail accounted for. To help turn this weakness into a strength, I've started making lists of feedback I get consistently. Now, before I send something to my manager I go through the list of feedback to make sure I've covered everything I should."

So, I have to ask. What's your biggest weakness?

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