Interview questions: “What’s Your Biggest Weakness?”
In our fast-paced, technology-swamped and social-media-regulated world, interviews with prospective employers can be even more daunting than in the past. When many calculate their personal success on the number of ‘likes’ their Facebook posts receive, how should an ambitious candidate reply when faced with the question, “ What is your biggest weakness?”.
When preparing for an interview, many foster an air of positivity that may be so far from reality that in fact it prohibits, rather than enables, success. In a culture in which we are constantly urged to aspire to physical perfection, the fastest car, the best holiday and the perfect home, why would considering our own failings in the workplace be anything other than tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot when being interviewed for that dream job?
In recent times the British, renown for their understated demeanour, have been urged to adopt more bullish personas. With reality TV dominating the airwaves providing proof that confident, even outlandish, behaviour can project nobodies into high-paid somebodies, the once cautious Brits assume self-assertion is all.
Of course, The Apprentice is the perfect example. The BBC show, headed by entrepreneur Lord Sugar, offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to the winning candidate to partner the peer in a business venture. Each contestant assures the camera in their initial VT that they are the best salesperson, the most hard-working, the most dedicated and ultimately of course, the most deserving – they are perfect.
As the series progresses and the teams are tasked with different business challenges, it soon become apparent that few can live up to their original PR and fall flat on their faces. The pumped-up posturing was clearly no more than hot air, and It is precisely this trend for unsubstantiated bravado that employers are keen to dissemble nowadays.
Consequently , the interviewee who is challenged to respond to, “What is your biggest weakness ?” is being quizzed above all about their grasp on reality and not being marked down on their insight.
Of course, it is inadvisable to offer an endless list of your imperfections in your interview and it is always key to have substantiated proof of your triumphs, whether they be by references from satisfied clients/employers or examples of your work, depending on your trade/career. However, it is also proof positive of your capacity to manage or be managed if you have a sense of the areas of your working life you may be challenged by.
Many of the business coaches to top management these days concentrate on personal development before business development and there is cogent reasoning behind this. If an individual understands themselves, they naturally develop not only a better sense of their own abilities, but are more able to communicate with others in the workplace.
At interview, it is all a question of authenticity.
If you are the best you can be with a particular skill set and are aware of those areas that still need work, any employer will not only be grateful for your honesty but will be excited that you are committed to improving in the areas that need work.
So next time a prospective employer asks you, “what is your biggest weakness?”, remember the answer to this one could be a real opportunity to seal the deal, and not to lose the contract.
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