Your Greatest Weakness Is Your Greatest Strength

Posted: 01/27/15 | Category: Interviewing

In a job interview, your good and bad qualities pile up like weights on an old school balance. Stack one trait on the scale and it can tip the manager’s decision for or against you. Personal shortcomings seem like a clear negative, but they don't have to be that way.

Not if you make your greatest weakness your greatest asset. 

It sounds contrary to logic. What can your flaws do aside from making you undesirable? If you frame them right, they can showcase some of your best qualities.

Reset Your Mentality

One great misconception about job interviews is that you need to come off as flawless. No one is Superman. You can’t have flight, super strength, X-ray vision, and the full gamut of other powers all in one package. We’re just ordinary people with limitations. That’s something that any realistic hiring manager can acknowledge.

And if you can acknowledge it, that’s another part of your appeal. Plenty of job seekers treat their greatest weakness as if it’s a rod of plutonium-239: get too close and chances of survival are slim. If you can give an honest response to “What is your greatest weakness?” or “What would your boss say is something you need to improve?” you already outshine much of the competition.

And why is that? A good answer that reflects on your weakness tells managers two things: you don’t overlook your bad qualities and you aren’t powerless to overcome them.

What to Do

Preparation is the key to success with this interview question. A good response should never be left to the same chance as selecting the right bingo ball from a rotating cage. In fact, the first of your shortcomings that pops in your head might be bad to mention.

The beauty of talking about your greatest weakness is that you pick what to discuss. If we’re being honest, there are probably several qualities which aren’t your strong suit. Make a list of your shortcomings (don’t wallow in them, just objectively review what you can do better). Then, pick one that won’t be the unforgivable tarnish on your silver platter.

Typically, your greatest weakness is going to be something that isn’t called out in the official job posting (no reason to needlessly disqualify yourself). Moreover, it should be something you’ve made progress with. “Do you see a problem? Okay, then you better be working to fix it.” That’s what they’ll want from you on the job.

It’s not enough to give a before and after. Bullet point each step to show off your reasoning. The way you grow, learn, adapt, and overcome weaknesses will be what makes employers hire you. Stumping you needs to seem like a tough prospect.

In the end, you have to give employers information that helps them to make a no brainer decision. And when you prove that your greatest weakness will never hold you back, you prove that you are worthy of any job.

by James Walsh

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