Answering tricky interview questions – Part 2
‘What’s your biggest weakness?’
This week we continue to look at how to answer tricky interview questions and offer some tips on how to answer them effectively. This week it’s that one that we expect but are never quite sure how to answer, ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’. Luckily, many HR professionals are moving on from questions like this as being a bit old-fashioned however, it still pops up.
With a bit of preparation, you don’t need to dread questions like these. When a potential employer asks, ‘what is your greatest weakness?’, they are looking to find out a couple of things:
Insincere answers that lack self-awareness are not going to impress an interviewer so steer clear of answers like ‘I tend to work too hard’ or ‘I’m too much of a perfectionist’. Equally, you don’t want to give weaknesses that will prevent you from doing well in the role. For example, if you’re applying for a role as a Business Development Manager, you don’t want to say that you’re not good with numbers.
There are ways to answer this question well that demonstrate self-awareness and value. It requires a two-part answer:
- Acknowledging the weakness
- How you’re working to overcome it and how you minimise the impact of the weakness
1. “I could benefit from more experience in using WordPress. I understand the basics as I used it in previous roles, but I believe it would be beneficial for me if I had a better understanding of it, so I have been using it more often to gain confidence with it.
2. “I’ve often been reluctant to give constructive feedback to colleagues or managers out of fear of hurting someone’s feelings. However, I realise feedback can be useful and if delivered in the right way, welcomed. I’m working on this and trying to give thoughtful, constructive feedback at the appropriate time.
3. “I have found it difficult in the past to delegate responsibility when I feel I can do the task well myself. However, I realise as an effective leader that it’s essential to delegate to enable other people to develop their skills. With effective communication and processes in place to monitor the progress of the tasks, I’m working on this and getting better at delegating”.
4. “I have had feedback that I can be blunt in delivering feedback – some people like this as they know exactly where they stand. But I have learned that this doesn’t sit well with everyone especially when delivering feedback. So I’ve completed a people management course and I’m now working on delivering feedback with empathy while still being efficient”.