If you’re going for a job interview, you’re probably dreading the interviewer asking you to talk about your biggest weakness – and that’s totally normal. This very common interview question puts you on the spot and requires you to evaluate and talk about yourself in a somewhat negative way.
To minimise the risk of freezing up or saying the wrong thing, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for this question:
Understand WHY interviewers ask this question.
It might seem a little strange for an interviewer, who should be interested in your achievements and experience, to want to know about your biggest weakness. But the reason they ask this question is quite simple: they want to get past your smart, rehearsed interview façade to understand what you’re like as a person and what you’re like to work with.
Answer the question in TWO parts:
1. Identify your weakness.
- Don't deny that you have weaknesses.
- Choose a weakness that doesn't directly relate to the job.
- Try not to get defensive or talk about yourself in an overly negative way.
- Don't try to disguise a strength as a weakness - try to be honest.
2. Talk about how you're working on it.
- Give an example of a time your weakness caused an issue at work, then explain how you resolved it.
- Give examples of the ways you plan to work on your weakness (if you haven't started working on it already).
- Be positive and confident - having weaknesses isn't something to be embarrassed about. Everybody has them!
Plan your response to the question.
It is quite likely that the interviewer will ask you about your biggest weakness - this question is so common at this point that it's on the verge of becoming a cliché - so we recommend preparing a constructive answer ahead of time.
- Think carefully about your weaknesses and write them down.
- Look at the job specification and highlight the key skills and attributes required for the role.
- Compare your list of weaknesses to the key requirements of the job. Exclude any weaknesses that might give the impression you're not suitable for the position at all - e.g. don't give shyness as your answer if it's a customer-facing role requiring strong interpersonal skills.
- Compose a strong answer relating to the remaining weakness(es).
Example of a good response:
Scenario: You're applying for a job as a lab technician. This job requires meticulous attention to detail and safe practices.
Good Answer: "I am not very good at public speaking. I get very nervous; I'll happily put my ideas forward when working in a small team, but on a larger scale, I do tend to struggle. However, I have arranged to go back to my university and give a talk to current chemistry students about my experience on the course - I'm hoping that this will help me to improve!"
Bad Answer: "I really struggle to be organised. My friends and family say I'm a bit of a slob, and I'm always breaking things accidentally. There's not much I can do about it, though - that's just who I am!"
Here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, we can offer lots of helpful advice if you're applying for a job in a scientific sector. Click the link below to browse our latest job listings.
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