Job Interviewing: How to Defend Your Biggest “Weakness’

August 29th, 2014

“What’s your biggest weakness?”

Of all the classic job interview questions, this one strikes the most fear and uncertainty into the hearts of job candidates. It sounds as if the hiring manager is asking you to describe why you’re not worth hiring, and to torpedo your own chances of landing the job as a result.

In fact, hiring managers don’t intend to be that sneaky – or that unkind. Instead, this question hides a more constructive inquiry: “Can you assess your abilities honestly, and do you know what kind of help you need in certain areas?” Answer these “hidden” questions and you’ll be on your way to turning your “biggest weakness” into a hidden strength.

Here’s how:

Know your weaknesses.

Hiring managers want to know if you can identify and weigh your weaknesses honestly, so the first step in answering this question is to identify and weigh your weaknesses. If you’re not sure, ask a co-worker whom you trust.

Answering this question by addressing one of your actual weaknesses demonstrates that you know where your weak points are, which shows that you also know which skills are your strong points. By contrast, if you don’t know your weaknesses, hiring managers conclude that you probably don’t know your strengths, either.

Choose wisely.

Although you should know all your weaknesses, you should not list all of them during your interview. First, you’ll simply overwhelm the hiring manager. Second, some of your weak points may be essential to the job. You should not mention these weaknesses in the interview.

Instead, compare your list of weaknesses to the job description. The weakness you choose to discuss in your interview should:

  • Be a professional or workplace-related weakness. Hiring managers want to know how you’ve handled weaknesses in relationship to work, not in your personal life.
  • Be non-essential to the job. For instance, a bookkeeper might say his or her weakness is in sales or customer service.
  • Be a weakness you’ve faced in specific instances in the past.


Tell a story.

Finally, construct a story that shows how you have confronted this weakness in the past and what you did to conquer or manage it. Choose a weakness you have successfully turned into a strength, not one you are still working on. Tell a story about how this change happened. The story format sticks in the hiring manager’s memory, and your description of how you overcame a weakness shows that you know how to address challenges constructively.

At 1st Staffing, our experienced recruiters can help you turn your biggest “weakness” into a strength. Contact us today to learn more.

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