Usually towards the end of the interview, this question rears its ugly head: “Tell me what you see is your greatest weakness”. Despite it being one of the most commonly asked interview questions, it is still the cause of a great deal of anxiety and confusion for job hunters because it involves such counterintuitive thinking. The candidate’s focus throughout the application process has been to make sure they appear as attractive as possible to an employer. This usually involves the candidate acknowledging their deficiencies in advance so they are able to argue around these and draw attention to their strengths.

However, from an employer’s perspective, this is precisely why the dreaded “weakness” question is asked. The employer is not, in fact, asking you to confess your professional sins. They are presenting you with an opportunity to show that you can successfully evaluate your own professional performance, meaning that you can identify both the areas you can improve on and a strategy for how to improve them.

TheJobCrowd surveys graduate employees in a wide range of organisations about their application process and collects valuable advice. Again and again the “weakness” question is mentioned as a key point candidates should prepare for…

“Make sure you know your strengths and weaknesses and can justify why you want to get into Recruitment. A lot of people apply to Recruitment under the impression that it is an easy industry to get in to – this often comes across at the interview stage. Make sure that you can reflect on yourself and have good reasons as to why Recruitment is the career path you want to take based on that.”
Permanent Recruitment Consultant at Angela Mortimer Group

At the assessment day, a lot of emphasis is put on your personality and team working skills rather than technical abilities. Try to have an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses as a person; prepare multiple examples for these and show how you’ve worked to improve.”
Graduate Management Trainee at Anglian Water

“You should research into the company’s competitors, but you should also think carefully about yourself. Think of real life examples that illustrate key behaviours. Think carefully about your strengths and weaknesses: be honest!”
National Account Executive at Danone

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Interview Tips That Will Help You Get the Job

Experts from the best companies in the UK share their experience and advice on how to boss the interview process

interview tips

Jazz Panesar is a Digital and Technology Apprentice at Severn Trent. Read Jazz’s story here.

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