Answer the Weakness Interview Question By Showing Vulnerability

April 12th, 2010 by lewis

Answering the “What is your biggest weakness?” interview question continues to be one of the most dreaded experiences during a job interview.

Most interview candidates typically recite canned answers such as:
  • “My weakness: I work too hard.”
  • “Sometimes I am so detail-oriented that my co-workers go crazy.”
Answering the question with a weakness … that can be perceived as a strength is an easily detected gambit. Interviewers consider such responses as inauthentic.
As I revealed in the following blog post, How to Answer “What is your biggest weakness?” Interview Question, there are three things that interviewers are looking for in the biggest weakness question:
  • Self-awareness. Does the candidate recognize their shortcomings? And can he or she be candid about them?
  • Initiative. What has the candidate done to improve their imperfections?
  • Results. Now that they’ve put an fix-it plan in place, how have they progressed? Is there a happy ending?
Most of my clients struggle to be candid about their shortcomings. As difficult as it may be, revealing your shortcomings may help develop an emotional connection with the interviewer. This excerpt from this month’s Psychology Today magazine explains why:
Do you have a formula for good conversation?
At the heart of a satisfying encounter with another person is the willingness to feel a vulnerability, to reveal fear. I’m interested in real, emotional communication. I want to talk about vulnerability, fear, anxieties. Most people’s conversational priority is to find some sort of neutral topic, like a new kind of car or gadget and not touch someone emotionally. Such conversations are disappointing. The best way to start a conversation around a table is to say, “OK, so what was everyone frightened of today?” or “What’s making you really sad in your relationship with somebody?”
We can easily put the “What is your weakness?” question in the same category. That is, your response is an opportunity to share a vulnerability. Next time you get this question, use the opportunity to build an emotional connection with the interviewer.

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One Response to “Answer the Weakness Interview Question By Showing Vulnerability”

  1. April 16, 2010 at 12:42 am, Amit said:

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