After reading through piles of glowing recommendation letters and perfectly-crafted cover letters, your interviewer knows that anyone can make themselves look good on paper. That’s where the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question comes into play: to test how self-aware you are when it comes to your faults. Being self-aware is one of the most important things when it comes to taking feedback or working to overcome your shortcomings, so while this question is not meant to be a trap, the bad news is that if you don’t know how to answer it well, it could be used against you. The good news? You can give your interviewer a real and positive understanding of how you deal with obstacles in your career in a way that makes you look good.
Now, when we say real, we mean honest but not careless; there are two extremes to avoid when answering this question: 1) using a positive as a negative – “I tend to work too hard!” (cue eye roll) and 2) showing your interviewer that you won’t be able to do your job well – “I can’t seem to finish any project I start!” (red flag, grave dug). Instead, think back to any constructive feedback you’ve received from former bosses and professors — or even teammates and classmates with whom you’ve collaborated. Make sure this is feedback that you’ve seriously taken into account from the moment you learned about your shortcoming.
Next, address your interviewer’s question by framing your greatest weakness as something you’re working to improve. For example, say something like “I’m constantly developing my written communication skills – in fact, I just took a writing workshop to improve the way my ideas come across in proposals and emails.” If you threw yourself into an extracurricular or part-time job that you knew would challenge your skill set, speak to that as well. Any example that shows that you’re the type of person who looks for areas of self-improvement and actively faces challenges head-on will ensure to impress your interviewer.
Your answer will not only show your interviewer that you’re self-aware but will also prove that you’re proactively fixing it in order to become a stronger candidate. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone like that?