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Accentuate The Positive

Three ways to answer “What is your greatest weakness?”

greatest weaknessLooking for a job is never easy. You need to prepare your resume, maybe hire a pro. Work your existing network and make new contacts. Find an open position. But perhaps the most nerve-racking part of every job search is the interview process.

There’s no doubt that one reason it’s so unnerving is because you often have to think on your feet. But the fact is that you can prepare for some things in advance. Like your answer to the inevitable question, “What is your greatest weakness?”

This is always a tricky question. To admit that there is something “wrong” with you in an interview goes against everything you’ve learned about the job interview. You’re there to sell yourself.

In the past a common strategy was to choose something “negative” that is actually a positive. Like “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too much”. But hiring managers can see through those fabrications. They want to know if you can look at yourself objectively.

The key to putting a positive spin on a negative question is to plan your answer in advance. There are many ways to address any “perceived” weaknesses. Here are three ideas to get you started.

Weakness You’ve Overcome

One way to answer this question in a positive way is to talk about a weakness you recently turned into strength. Maybe you recently improved your skills on a software program like PowerPoint®. Perhaps you took a public speaking workshop. Or you completed a seminar on team management.

It shows that you are able to recognize a weakness and act to improve yourself. If it’s something related to the job you’re interviewing for even better.

Weakness You’re Working On

Another idea is to mention something that you are working on right now. You might be learning QuickBooks® or taking an accounting class. Maybe you’re studying business writing to improve your communication skills. Perhaps, you’re applying to school to complete your degree.

Again, if it’s something related to the job or career you’re pursuing better yet.

Unrelated Weakness

A third suggestion is to talk about something that is not directly related to job you’re applying for. For example, if you are applying as an accountant you might mention that you are trying to improve your presentation skills. But, be sure to talk about how you are trying to improve them like going to Toastmasters.

If it’s something that’s indirectly related to the job you’re applying for but can help you in your career going forward that’s great too. For example, you are taking an accounting class for marketing professionals which would help you in a management position down the road.

Job interviews can be stressful. You can’t plan for everything in advance. Which means you’ll have to be able to think on your feet, at least sometimes.

One of the secrets to a successful job interview – one that moves you to the next level – is to plan ahead as much as possible. Start with your answer to “What is your greatest weakness?” and go from there. Just remember to practice, practice, practice.

Soon you’ll be able to answer this tricky question with ease.


About Annette Richmond, MA

Annette Richmond, MA, CARW, CCELW, is a Certified Resume Writer, Certified LinkedIn Profile Writer, and former recruiter. Her career advice has been featured by Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Business Insider, Monster, Vault, and WSJ. She helps motivated, senior level professionals tell their unique career story. She also serves as executive editor of career-intelligence.com.


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