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Job Interview: What is your biggest weakness?

A job interview can be stressful no matter what questions are being asked, but there’s one traditional job interview question that strikes fear into the heart of every job candidate: “What is your biggest weakness?”

Why is this question so terrifying? Job seekers are afraid that giving the wrong answer could ruin their chances of being offered the job. If they talk about a weakness that the interviewer sees as a liability, they’re out. If they say the same old thing about “being a perfectionist” or “working too hard,” the interviewer won’t take them seriously. If they make a joke out of it, it will seem like they’re avoiding the issue.

With all those fears that arise in every interview, it seems impossible to get this question right. What can job seekers say about their biggest weakness that will make them look like a better candidate?

The job search experts have conflicting opinions about this topic. Here are a few of the common suggestions for how to answer a question about your biggest weakness.

  • Mention a trait that is usually regarded as negative but put a positive slant on it. As one example, say that you sometimes have trouble delegating work if you think that it will be done more completely by yourself, because you have high standards for excellence.
  • Talk about an issue that you used to struggle with and describe how you’ve addressed the problem. For example, say that you used to have trouble locating important files because you weren’t very organized, but go on to explain how you revamped your systems to improve the results.
  • Tell a story about a great piece of advice you’ve received that helped you overcome your weakness.
  • Say almost anything—what matters isn’t the content of your response, just how you say it. This question is designed to put a job candidate on the spot, so a winning response is one that’s delivered in a calm, lighthearted tone. Another hint: don’t talk too long! Keep your response under 20 seconds.

Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points.

Knute Rockne

Remember, in the end, this is just one question that probably won’t make or break your interview. With a little preparation, you can present your response calmly and with humor, leading your interviewer to the next question—and ultimately, if all goes well, to a job offer.

Give Your Employees a Constructive Feedback

Feedback in the workplace is an essential part of employee training and maintenance at most jobs. Unfortunately, due to the negative associations, most people have problems with receiving feedback and criticism from their superiors. The reception of feedback at work can be an extremely stressful experience. From a supervisor’s perspective, delivering feedback can be equally stressful when you know the person you are about to speak to and the supervisor would rather be anywhere else in the building at that moment.

However, giving feedback doesn’t have to be like giving an injection to a struggling child. With the right approach, giving your employees constructive feedback can be a polite, helpful, and even pleasant experience for both parties. Here are some tips for providing constructive feedback in an effective and non-threatening manner as a supervisor.

Start with positive feedback

This is perhaps the most important point to keep in mind when it comes to giving feedback that is intended to be constructive. You know that your employee will already be dreading meeting with you when you call him or her into your office. As a result, it can really help to put your employee at ease if you start by giving him or her information about things that he or she has been doing right instead of wrong.

Everyone likes hearing about things they are doing well, and most people don’t hear about such things nearly enough. You can set the meeting off on a positive tone that carries through well into any complaints or suggestions you offer later on if you make it a point to start out by praising the employee for things you would like him or her to keep doing on the job.

Every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration. Constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought.

Margaret Chase Smith

Get to the point quickly

This is essential to remember when giving constructive feedback. When you’ve got to say something negative or tell someone who works under you to change the way they’ve been doing things, you’ve got to say it as quickly as possible. This is because the person will probably be able to sense that negative information is coming his or her way long before you actually come out with it.

The longer you hesitate and hem and haw and beat around the bushes, the more anxious the receiver of the feedback will get, and that stress will not make the meeting go any better. In fact, the employee might become so stressed waiting for the feedback that he or she doesn’t even hear the feedback when you deliver it. If you’ve got bad news, get it over with quickly so you can start talking about how to make it better.

Show how to make things better

As stated above, the point of delivering the bad news should be to allow you to show how you can make things better. This doesn’t mean you need to hold the employee’s hand and guide him or her toward a solution, but it does mean that there isn’t much of a point in giving feedback about things that are going wrong if you don’t show how to make them right.

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