Answering the Question ‘What’s Your Greatest Weakness?’

Hiring managers love to ask about your weaknesses.  I’m going to give you an inside look at a popular interview question: “What’s your greatest weakness?” Otherwise known as, “What’s an area of improvement for you?”

 Here’s a common problem….

Most people don’t realize the snowball effect applies to interviewing. The better you interview, the better the job you’ll get, and the more money you’ll be offered. If you want a compelling job offer, in addition to the basics, you need some kind of “wow factor” to keep the interview interesting and authentic.

So let’s get to it………

 Three Costly Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #1--- Giving phony weaknesses

Resist the temptation to use manufactured and overused examples –they won’t help you land the job. The most common yet worst answer of all time is “I’m a perfectionist.”

Your hiring manager’s eyes roll when he hears the word “perfectionist.” Silently, to himself, he starts to wish he was somewhere else. Anywhere else, but tucked away in a small interview room with you. Once he tunes out, it’s over.

Mistake #2---Providing fundamental weaknesses necessary for the job

whats your greatest weakness besides chocolate

Don’t say you hate meeting prospects in person, detest cold calling, get jittery before C-level meetings, and abhor going to networking events. You’ll be shown the door in no time if you select a fundamental sales skill for a weakness.

Mistake #3---Discussing weaknesses without solutions

This is a h-u-g-e pet peeve for most hiring managers. They cringe like nails scraping down a chalkboard. It’s the equivalent of going to meetings, bringing up problems, and not suggesting solutions. It’s pretty simple: never state a weakness and leave it at that. “I hate using the phone. I’m better in person.” Awkward silence.

Now let’s put the interview ball in your court…………

Step #1—The power of preparation

Don’t flub up this question. It’s a known classic. Everyone asks the weaknesses question, so if you’re hesitant or unprepared, it’ll show. You’ll spend the rest of the interview fighting your way out of the subpar category and you’ll only have yourself to blame.

Subpar isn’t going to get you your dream job or a winning offer. An average answer isn’t going to get you there either. Using specific strategies will keep you out of Subpar and Average, and one of them is to be prepared.  

But moving on……..

Step #2—Select thoughtfully--- Pick the right weakness for the right role. You must carefully and thoughtfully select an area of improvement. Choose low impact weaknesses that won’t affect your ability to perform on the job. If you’re interviewing for a management role, or an inside sales position with a 30 day sales cycle, and you say your weakness is consistently using CRM to document activity; this will spell trouble. If you’re interviewing for a field sales position that has a six to nine month sales cycle, and you mention you struggle with CRM documentation, you’ll get quite a different reaction.

Let’s move on to the last step.

Step #3--Back it up—“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule,” Charles Dickens wrote in Great Expectations. It was true then, and it’s still true today. Supply proof and give evidence that you’ve taken action to improve.  

Here’s an example, “My greatest weakness is patience. I know only two speeds—fast and faster. Sometimes I have to slow down, and remember people don’t always process information or move as fast as I do. I’m reading a book right now on patience; it’s called The Power of Patience, by MJ Ryan. It’s helping me remember to slow down. I’m not improving as fast as I’d like too, but then I remember change takes time.”

When you’re persuading someone to hire you, the competition can be monstrous. The better the job opportunity, the more contenders you’ll need to outshine. Great salesmanship always requires you to be on top of your game. Stay focused on mastering basic questions, honing your answers with thoughtful preparation, and providing supporting examples, and you’ll be one step ahead of the pack!