In an Interview, Should You Expose Your Biggest Weakness?

We went to a friend’s seventieth birthday party this weekend. Afterward, he thanked me for the encouraging card I’d written him pointing out the many ways he helps others thrive and grow. “You know, I tend to focus on my flaws, not the things I do well,” he told me.

I can relate. Last night, my husband and I both took a personality test with categories like openness, conscientiousness, and agreeability. After I honestly answered the questions about my behaviors and attitudes, my scores were higher than they’d have been a few years ago but still lower in several areas than I’d have liked them to be. I thought, “It’s a good thing I’m not looking for a job. I’m not sure I’d hire myself!”

Aren’t we each our own worst critic? A little self-examination is healthy and necessary for personal growth. But when you are asked, “What’s your biggest weakness?” in an interview, should you expose your biggest flaws?

Yes, but don’t answer the question directly, suggests Kelly Clay of Payscale.com. Instead, tweak it:

The intent of the question is to help the interviewer form an opinion of the interviewee. Turn the question around a little before you answer. Say, “Let me tell you about how I overcame one of my weaknesses,” because the question isn’t really about your weaknesses. It’s about being self-aware. How do you currently deal with and overcome challenges? Tell them those things and they’ll appreciate where you’re at on your journey, even if it’s still a struggle.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a sense of relief about that kind of answer! I’m always devising new ways to tackle my flaws, so it’s easy to imagine telling a hiring manager, for instance, how I recently figured out a new way to plot out my schedule on an hourly calendar to successfully accomplish my list of daily tasks.

The success of this response tactic hinges on the interviewer’s motive for asking the biggest weakness question. As Clay states it, the interviewer is trying to get to know you and learn about your problem-solving skills to see whether you might be a good fit for their existing team. So answering honestly while giving specifics for how you’re already addressing the flaw is a great way to become known and boost the interviewer’s perception of your abilities.

It’s paradoxical, but exposing your weakness in the context of your own personal growth could land you your next job! Next time you’re asked to share your biggest weakness, tap into your self-awareness, tweak the question, and plunge right in.

Do you get the respect you deserve? Maybe you need to enlist your body’s help! Read more…

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