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  3 Ways to Answer "What is Your Biggest Weakness/Strength?"

Jul 5th

3 Ways to Answer "What is Your Biggest Weakness/Strength?"


Career Management, Interview, Nail Your Narrative, Personal, Reading

Interviewers love to ask "What is your biggest weakness?" or the converse "What is your biggest strength?". I'm not here to debate how great of a question this is. However I can definitely share with you the best methodology to answer this common question that is surprisingly hard to articulate.

Here are 3 Ways to Answer "What is Your Biggest Weakness/Strength?"

1. This trick question is easy to nail if you approach it honestly through realizing that your biggest strength IS your biggest weakness and vice versa. Think about it, what are you the best at? Oftentimes, that exact strength causes some unintended consequences. For me, it's talking or the art of speech. I am a gregarious, overly energetic, and outgoing person. There's nothing more fun than my current role of training, public speaking, and constant networking. As a headhunter, I made a living off of my skill at optimizing and conveying social interactions to guide clients and candidates to find the right fit.

However, therein lies my greatest weakness! I can sometimes talk too much and my voice can be very loud! Although speaking loudly at conferences, speaking engagements, and group social settings is crucial to my business, in smaller groups or one-on-one's, I have to consciously adjust to using my "inside" voice. Not to mention, my style of speech can also be very persuasive. I am very dedicated to my job, and I will be as blunt and direct as needed to get my point across. Although my honesty has served me well to do the best for my clients due to my expertise, not everyone totally agrees with me or likes my "aggressive" style. If your style is overwhelming at times, you may turn off potential audiences. Of course, if your potential employer doesn't have a culture matching both your styles, it probably wasn't meant to be anyways. 

Therefore, 2. Make a list of your characteristics and their corresponding interpretations as a strength and as a weakness. Creating a list will give you more options to choose from to discuss during your interview. If you just have one or two qualities to discuss, you may not have enough content especially if the interviewer asks both questions! With your list, you can seamlessly pivot and switch between marketing a strength as a weakness or vice versa. 

 

TIP: Brainstorm ideas you can improve on your qualities as it's always nice to show that you're always on the lookout for further personal development and demonstrate self-awareness!

 

Lastly 3. Practice delivering your interpretations in both vantage points of a quality being a strength at the same time a weakness. Like this illustration, there are multiple ways to interpret someone.

Here's a helpful layout to answer this question. 

"My biggest {weakness/strength} is {quality}. I like to {activities your quality helps you excel at}, however at times it can lead to {drawback}. Something I'm working on is {forward action to improve}."

Here's how I would answer: What is your biggest weakness?

"My biggest weakness is my intense style of communication. I like to create intense eye contact and discuss the topic passionately. My energy and zealousness can sometimes intimidate people or make me overly enthusiastic. Something I'm working on is listening more and being more careful when dealing with clients who seem to prefer a more sensitive style."

Similarly, this is my answer to: What is your biggest strength?

"My biggest strength is my ability to communicate in an effective, engaging, and supportive manner. I create intense eye contact and will eagerly discuss the issue or topic at hand while responding appropriately to build rapport. I aim to deliver candid feedback, sharing ideas for further improvement. The candidates I coach enjoy my direct and constructive style on how to improve their attractiveness to clients. With my expertise in training and recruitment, I'm able to truly help my clients understand real world practices and mindsets of hiring managers."

What do you think? What strategies work for you to answer interview questions? Email Dandan@dandanglobal.com for more ideas, tips and advice on how to work with recruiters, hiring managers, and Human Resources (HR)!

For more professional and personal branding advice, read: 

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