What is Your Biggest Weakness?

Published on Apr. 24, 2014

The Interview Question That Throws Us All Off, and How to Answer It

Sherrin Arulambalam

Most people at some point in their careers have encountered one of the most dreaded interview questions: “What is your biggest weakness?” Some refute the question’s existence and its relevance to securing a job. After all, how is revealing your biggest weakness going to help you attain a position that requires only the cream of the crop? The secret to crafting your response to this controversial question lies not only in what weakness you expose, but also how you expose it.

Take note of these three beneficial tips to help you respond to the question that could make or break your opportunity to be considered a serious candidate for the role:

Keep Calm and Carry On

When revealing a weakness, prospective employers are paying attention to how you respond. Do you flinch at the question, do you become nervous, are you avoiding eye contact, or are there noticeable, silent gaps between your sentences? If you answered yes to most of these questions, it may appear as though you are dodging the question rather than fully addressing the underlying weakness. The best thing you can do in this situation, in the words of the famous World War 2 poster, is to keep calm and carry on, or in other words, maintain your composure. Addressing your weakness is not something to fear, but rather an opportunity to demonstrate your capability to objectively acknowledge your strengths and opportunities for growth and improvement.

Positive Spin

Although it’s important to remain composed, you don’t want to get too comfortable and reveal all of your weaknesses. Pouring your heart out in an interview could potentially eliminate you as a candidate. The overall purpose of this question is to evaluate your character and determine whether your weakness will affect your ability to perform. When providing a weakness, it is crucial to seize the opportunity to describe how this limitation led you to gain positive insight and improvement in your performance. It goes without saying, you shouldn’t state weaknesses that are vital attributes for the role like: “I’m not a great team player”, when the job description clearly states that collaboration is a necessity for the role. On the other hand, if you are lacking a skill that is definitely needed for the position, you should he honest with yourself and question the viability of your candidacy. As well, there is also no need to mention irrelevant weaknesses that have no impact on your ability to meet the job requirements.

Ditch the Clichés

Many people do not feel comfortable sharing their real weaknesses, and instead, react with clichéd responses such as “I’m a perfectionist” or “I have no weaknesses.” Employers will view these responses as artificial, and lacking in thought and self-awareness. Although it’s an easy way out of responding properly to a complicated question, painting yourself as a flawless candidate really does more harm than good. Clichéd responses portray a candidate’s inability to objectively assess areas that have improved or require improvement. Thoughtful responses followed up with constructive solutions are pivotal in transforming potentially negative statements into positive ones.

The next time you are confronted with the “weakness question”, embrace it as an opportunity to define your character and demonstrate how you have dealt with the shortcoming. Ensure that you confidently reassure the interviewer by validating why this limitation will not hinder your performance in your new role. If you can give a positive, astute response that portrays you as a self-aware individual constantly seeking self-improvement you are one step closer to securing a new position.


Ce document est disponible en anglais seulement. Si vous souhaitez discuter de ce rapport en français, s'il vous plaît écrivez melissa@dgacareers.com

See previous item See next item