In most recruitment and hiring settings, interviewers and recruiters will often ask some basic, and seemingly irrelevant to the role questions such as: What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time? And more often than not ‘What is your greatest weakness?’
To most, this question may seem irrelevant. If you’re highly skilled for the Digital Marketing or Ecommerce role you’re applying for, why do interviewers and recruiters want to know about the things you can’t do?
Simply put they want to get past your interview facade. The way a candidate answers these questions says a lot about their character, whether or not they choose to be completely honest (sometimes maybe too honest), or if they take on the bragging approach and turn a strength into a weakness (‘I’m too much of a perfectionist’). Whether you realise it or not, in the eyes of recruiters and companies looking to hire you, your answer to this simple question says a lot.
So how do you answer ‘What is your greatest weakness?’ correctly? Keep reading as we cover how to answer this question, from choosing a weakness to structuring your answer...
First and foremost: Avoid the cliches!
This may seem too simple to even cover but avoid cliche phrases! Recruiters and interviewers hear enough of “I think I’m too much of a perfectionist” or “Sometimes I work too hard”. Not only are these clear attempts at masking a strength as a weakness, they also sound cliche and dishonest. This signals to the interviewer that you’re not actually answering the questions but telling them what you think they want to hear.
We understand the reasoning behind these types of answers. In theory, disguising a strength as a flaw seems like the best way to tackle the question, it’s just another way of displaying your large array of skills. However, in the eyes of the interviewer, you do not come across as highly skilled but instead, dishonest.
Now, we’re not suggesting creating a detailed list of each and every one of your flaws in your next Digital Marketing manager interview or when you’re discussing with a recruiter your next PPC role but knowing the areas where you need to improve is important. It not only reflects honesty and self awareness but illustrates to the hiring agents that you are prepared to grow and develop upon your skills in order to excel in your next role.
Highlight how you plan to improve!
Stating your greatest weakness and then moving on also isn’t the best approach to this question. Be honest with the interviewer and illustrate the ways you have already and the ways you plan to overcome your weakness. If your weakness is employment gaps, why not check out our blog post on the best approach to explaining employment gaps in interviews. Alternatively, if your weakness is that you are afraid of public speaking, provide examples of steps you have taken to improve these skills.. Like practicing in front of the mirror or in front of smaller groups of people before a big presentation to build up your confidence. This highlights to hiring agents and recruiters that not only do you have the abilities and self awareness to recognise your weaknesses but you can also take initiative when it comes to overcoming said weaknesses.
Don’t name a weakness that jeopardises your suitability for the role!
Again, another seemingly obvious but needs to be highlighted fact: When we say honesty is the best policy, we’re not telling you to be too honest! Pick a weakness that may seem ‘minor’ and an ‘easy fix’. Providing a weakness that is true and reflects your character is key when in the hiring process of your next role, but don’t list weaknesses that may imply to the interviewer that you lack the abilities to do the job right. For example, if you are applying for a role with strict and non-flexible working hours, don’t claim your weakness to be poor time management skills or if you are in the hiring process of a Digital Marketing role with a large team, don’t claim your weakness is being a bad team player.
Follow a simple structure…
We’ve found that when you’re asked the dreaded question “What is your greatest weakness?” There are a few simple steps you can take that make sure you don’t stray too far away from what the interviewer or recruiter is asking of you.
1. Have a weakness identified before you enter the interview. This saves you stumbling for an answer and potentially picking a bad weakness.
2. Similar to number one, identify beforehand steps you have taken to overcome this weakness or alternatively, the steps you plan to take in your new role.
3. Always end on a positive: If your greatest weakness is public speaking, end with a recent example of how you have successfully overcome this fear!
We hope this helps when preparing for your next interview. If your next interview is over the phone, why not check out our blog post titled ‘5 Tips to Master Phone Interviews’ to help you prepare!