We are all humans; therefore, we all have weaknesses! I do a lot of research into the type of questions you could be asked in a job interview and the best way to respond. My biggest irk is when other industry professionals advise you to ‘deflect’ when answering the question: ‘What is your biggest weaknesses?’ Many advise you to answer the question by responding with a strength – in my professional opinion, this is evading answering the question and quite simply, deflecting. I’m one for up front honesty; quite simply, answer the question. The key is that with a negatively loaded question like this one, you can transform it from a negative into a positive. Answer the question in two parts: first, state what your weakness is/was; and secondly, state what you did to correct the weakness, or if you haven’t already done so, then state what you will do about it in the very near future.

When I go to secondary schools/colleges in the Brisbane region to conduct Job Market Skills (JMS) Session on Job Interview Techniques, I ask this question to a lot to students; I ask for volunteers in the audience to provide an example of what their main weakness is and the strategy they have used to correct or improve on their weakness.

Following are three examples on how you can answer the question: ‘What is your biggest Weakness?’

Example #1:
My job entails the extensive use of Microsoft Word on a daily basis. Up until a few weeks ago, I was only at basic level competency in using this application’s features. To improve on this, I commenced an eight-week course in the evenings on the use of Word’s intermediate and advanced level features. Three weeks into the course, I found a significant improvement in my performance which increased my productivity on the job by producing documents (using shortcuts I had not known about previously) in half the time.

Example #2:
My main weakness was that when I was given a project to complete involving several tasks, I was inclined to procrastinate in undertaking the final couple of tasks. This caused me to become highly stressed even though the projects would still be completed on time. I recently completed two projects; with both, I took action to rectify this problem by compiling a timeline and schedule, highlighting the final tasks to remind and prompt me to allocate time and complete. As a result, this system eliminated last minute chaos for me and stress was completely alleviated. I intend to continue to use this method for every project I undertake in the future.

Example #3:
I have always had a problem with remembering a person’s name. I presently work in a call centre where I handle up to 50 calls from customers on any given day. Remembering a customer’s name is very important during the course of a conversation. As my current role is heavily customer-centric, I am aware that a strong rapport and relationship will result if I remember each customer’s name and continually repeat their name during our conversation. I took action to correct this weakness on the first day on the job. Specifically, at the start of each call with a customer, I wrote their name down on a piece of paper and I also highlighted their name in the computer system. As I spoke to each customer, I kept checking their name both on and off the computer screen. Since using this process, I never forgot a customer’s name during the calls.


Annie Cerone