What is your greatest weakness? No I am not asking you a question but telling you the question which is one of the most common in the job interviews and which most of us answer in a very wrong way due to which we lose one opportunity to portray our talent in front of the interviewer. This article can help you answer this question in the best possible way and also prepare for your interview too.

Why this question exists

You may not believe it but this is a lot less absurd as it looks. Actually this question plays a very important role in the interview process. This is actually a very challenging question.

When an interviewer asks you this question, they’re trying to see how well you respond to a question that’s intentionally meant to throw you off your game. Your interviewer is not looking for the correct answer but they want to see how you face and react to this question.

Interviewer’s main task is to find the best talent for the job which means they need to find and reject the non deserving candidates. They want to see how you react when they catch you off guard with this question and how much you know about yourself because the more you know about yourself, the more you can improve yourself. Going beyond the normal answers, can bring the best side of you in front of your interviewer.

How to frame the answer

Now you know that you can use this question as another opportunity to portray and emphasize your talent in a very different way. Never let this question make you confused and choose the wrong answer. If you have already answered the question “What is your strength” then you already have the answer. I will explain this in detail.

Stop the obvious answers 

For god sake, Stop answering with the answers like 

“I am a perfectionist” or 

“I do not have any weakness” or 

“you should find the weakness in me” or 

“I want to skip the answer”. 

These answers will portray you as an oversmart person which nobody likes. Another set of obvious answers is

“I am over confident” or

“I am too emotional” or

“I trust others very easily” are some of the answers which are very common. It is not good to give these answers as they may raise red flag for the jobs and also these answers will bring you in the category of average job seekers which I am sure you don’t want to be.

Stick to the job description 

Whenever you appear for the job interview, you should go through the job description without a fail. Reading each and every job description will give a brief idea about the job, technical and functional skills which are required for the job. If there is not much in the job description, look for the about us, mission statement and visions of the company on their website. Company website also gives a lot about the culture and functional skills preferred in an organization.

 People can judge you on your technical skills with technical tests but for functional skills you have to be precise about what is helpful for you in the job for which you are applying. You should emphasize on those functional skills all the time in the interview. People want to hire the perfect candidate. There can be multiple people who can be a match for technical skills but there will be a few candidates who have both technical and functional skills.

Do not reveal the actual weakness

Never go overboard in your interviews and start revealing the information which may go against you. Do not take me wrong, I am just saying a wise thing. Let me explain. If you may genuinely know your weakness and are probably working on it, you may overcome it in some time but saying that in an interview can decrease your chances to get the jobs. That skill, talent, attribute or trait can be vital for the job that is why I asked you to find out the functional skills required for the job or the company.

Weakness should be the extreme form of strength

Now the actual trick to handle this question. Weakness is something which makes your life and work difficult. If the companies and people know about your strength and  weakness then most of the people willingly will come to you to use your strength and weakness and the funny part is that people usually try to exploit your weakness more than your strength. Did you get the hint of what I am trying to say?

Actually the answer of this question lies in your strength rather than in your weakness. If you know skills required for the job, you should find the skill which genuinely matches to Your strength. This will give you a ground to speak more about your “so called weakness”. Now you have to show the interviewer an extreme version of your strength which you should portray as a weakness. 

This benefits you in 3 ways. One you are keeping the interview in your control and within your strengths. Second is you are not saying negatives about yourself and also restricting the interviewer to focus on the strength o ly. The third is you are hinting the interviewer that you are made for the job for which you are giving an interview because you have both technical and functional skills required for the job.( If you don’t have technical skills, you will get rejected very early in the interview process.)

Example of Answers

Now let us look at some very common strengths that people possess and which you can usually find in the job descriptions but you can think of more. 

Enthusiasm

Trustworthiness

Creativity

Discipline

Patience

Respectfulness

Determination

Dedication

Honesty

Versatility

Looking at the job description and being self aware, you can pick one of these and make them your weakness. To make them as your weakness you should exaggerate this strength upto the controllable limit and still keep it in the strength worthy zone so that it never becomes a real weakness. Always refrain yourself from adding any genuine negative attributes to the consequence of your “weakness”. So, here are some controlled consequences and exaggerated versions of strengths which can be considered as weakness.

Enthusiasm= You take new tasks willingly without hesitation which lead to more work and more problems to tackle.

Trustworthiness=You can’t say know to help anyone and devote your personal energy to helping others.

Creativity=You are too much into attention to detail which makes it difficult to deliver rough edged work.

Discipline=You are too process oriented which makes you a difficult person in the team.

Patience=You are too patient which lead to late reactions and harmful for personal life.

Respectfulness=You are too respectful to others which sometimes makes you look like a low esteemed person.

Determination=You are very determined to the extent of disbalancing your own work life balance.

Dedication=Too much dedication should only lead to work of too many  challenging tasks where profit is more but failure rate is very high.

Honesty= You too much honesty is not liked by many of these. It leads you in trouble multiple times.

Versatility=Too much versatility can make you an all rounder but not a specialist in any. This also implies that you can handle multiple hats in one times.

So these were ways of answering the question “what is your greatest weakness”. As you don’t know the mindset of your interviewer, you should add that you are working on your weaknesses so that they are assured that you can control them.