By Katie East
In the interview process the most common, and often dreaded, question is always the same, “What would you say is your biggest weakness?” I happen to be pretty good at interviews so I know how to answer this question truthfully enough, without showing my full-deck of weaknesses. If I was going to be realistic though I’d probably respond: “Time management and follow through.” This answer, of course, would land me exactly zero jobs ever.
And realistically, I am probably better at time management and follow through than most people. If you’re asking me my personal struggles though, those both are at the top of my list. And since those are probably the two most important qualities for any employees, I never answer that question realistically.
“I ask a lot of questions,” is how I normally respond. Asking questions inherently isn’t a bad thing and people often think they like that in a candidate. Some inpatient employers don’t realize though that they’d rather a self-starter who dives in and is ready to make inevitable mistakes; that’s not me. When I first start a job I will ask a 1,000 before doing something that might get me in trouble.
Still, that’s a pretty low stakes weakness to admit to. But, I find it’s an easy way to segue way into my working style and cop to some other less desirable working habits upfront. I find vague honesty is the best policy in an interview. Direct honesty, another flaw of mine, can be overwhelming and off-putting in the interview process.
Regardless, your weakness should still sound somewhat legit. As someone who has had to hire people for a variety of different positions, that is my number one question to ask someone. Why? It helps you weed out the bullshit artists immediately and also tells you who can’t cut it in the business world.
The people who answer: “Hmmmmm, I’ve never thought about it before…” are immediately out. First of all, have you never been to an interview? Have you ever even heard of an interview before? Cause this question isn’t supposed to be a curveball.
Second of all, I don’t like associating with anyone who doesn’t spend time thinking about their weakness. People who don’t know or care about their flaws won’t work any harder than the bare minimum. They will only do what is expected of them in life, in business and personally. People who strive for greatness will always know what hurdles they have to climb.
The next kind of person who fails at interviewing replies to the question by saying something along the lines of: “I’m probably TOO organized, I’m like borderline OCD.” They basically compliment themselves and act like it’s a weakness. This is the same kind of friend who says things to you like: “Ugh, my metabolism is TOO good. I can never gain weight,” when you complain about your diet. This person sucks, you don’t need their back-handed positivity in your life. This person is full of BS.
If every person in the world answered that interview question honestly they too would probably say: “Time management and follow through.” Let’s be realistic, no one is great at it. Personally, I am amazing at prioritizing: switching gears to immediately put out fires and being ready to push lesser tasks to the back burner. The struggle though is remembering about that back burner whenever the fire is out.
So sometimes, time gets the best of me and I don’t hit deadlines for smaller projects. If you don’t have team meetings or a boss reminding you or timelines this can easily happen to anyone. The same is true when it comes to following through. I hate to admit it, but I love to pick up projects and responsibilities then drop them. Unless someone holds me accountable, it’s out of sight out of mind.
In someone else, it’s easy for me to spot this. Say for instance, when I come home and my husband says he has “picked up all the costumes” and I come home to find giant plastic tupperware containers still sitting center of the room and a myriad of prop weapons strewn about.
“So I guess you mean you started picking up the costumes, right?”
Obviously my sarcasm is just a friendly way that I keep my husband on task; we all need help following through.
Whether it’s for a job or for yourself, knowing your weaknesses is crucial. Dwelling on these downfalls isn’t healthy but understanding them is the key to anyone’s success. Your flaws might be your fault now but the only way to make them failures is to blindly repeat them.