Tough interview question: What is your greatest weakness?

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This question, as most of you know, is not a chance to confess your sins or deep personal truths, but an opportunity to share what is known in politically correct terms as an “area of development.”

You will often hear about these areas of development in performance reviews, so it is never a bad time to start thinking about weaknesses this way.

So, how do you put a positive spin on a negative quality?

Most job interview preparatory articles and recruiters seem to agree that you need to avoid dwelling on the negative. However, the intuitive response of many is to say they are a perfectionist or a workaholic.  But an answer like that shows a lack of imagination, as most people see themselves as hard-working.

You should avoid personality-based traits and focus on professional skills which you can tell them you are actively working to develop. Talk about one of your weaknesses and what you are doing to overcome it. You should pick something and explain how you are actively working on developing this skill, preferably something that will be an asset to the organization in the future.

An example of this could be public speaking, prioritizing or comfort with change. Keep in mind, however, that you should not dwell on the negative and you need to convince the employer you are actively working to develop these skills.

Prior to an interview, actively assess both strengths and weaknesses. Look through the skill sets and personal assets required for the job, and then focus on the required skills for your strengths and think about other, less important areas to describe as your weaknesses.

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About the author

Mira Saraf studied psychology and English at McGill University. When she graduated, she wanted to pursue journalism but somehow ended up working in Montreal's garment industry. From there, she moved to New York to attend FIT. She worked there for a year before moving back to Toronto to work for Winners. Two and a half years in she took over a year off to pursue writing education and a career in freelance writing. She has since returned to the industry and now works for Loblaw/Joe Fresh. She continues to write on a part time basis.