The one question that everyone dreads in a job interview is about your biggest weaknesses. Most of us throw up either a clichéd answer such as “I am a workaholic” or come up with something totally weird like “I always need something to eat while working.” Such misleading answers might have worked in Stone Age, but not today. The interviewer is too smart for this. This post talks about some of the best ways to communicate your biggest weaknesses to the interviewer.

Ask any self-confessed career expert and he will tell you that most candidates are super worried about the “What’s your greatest weakness?” question more than anything else in an interview. Most candidates hate this question while interviewers love it even if they know that they won’t be getting honest answers. After all, which job candidate will be willing to give interviewers a reason not to hire them? So how do you go about answering it?

Don’t get nervous

Most people become a little nervous when they are asked about one of their weaknesses as no one likes to talk about them, least of all with a total stranger in a job interview. However, you should be able to overcome your apprehensiveness and be comfortable about it. Recognize that it’s not a bad thing. It’s only in your best interests that you know the job ahead doesn’t play to your weaknesses. Besides, candidates who can talk about their strengths and weaknesses come across as humble, and self-aware. The interviewer might also get impressed that you are as concerned about making sure that you are the right candidate for the job as he himself is.

Don’t be dumb

The most stupid response that anyone can give to this question is “ I don’t have any weaknesses’ . Well every human is born with some inherent natural traits which put him or her at disadvantage against other humans. If you really think that you don’t have any weaknesses, you lack self-awareness. Beware of using the old trick of turning a weakness into strength by saying, “I work too hard”, or “I am a workaholic”. Interviewer has heard all of them before and that too from innumerable candidates. Again don’t be come up with a weakness that directly relates to your current job. For instance, if you are interviewing for an accountant role and you say, “I am bad at numbers”, nothing can save you.

Here are some ways in which you can tackle this question:

Tell about a weakness that you are working on

You can tell the interviewer about some recent shortcomings that you are already working on. Let it be organizing work or time management. For the same, come prepared with an honest analysis of yourself. What would you like to change about yourself? Make sure to have all the data ready before you apply to a new job on a job site.

Once you have that answer, think about responding with what you’re doing to fight those weaknesses. For instance, if you find it hard managing multiple tasks at a time, you can tell the interviewer that you are learning to better prioritize your work through use of different tools. This will give the message that you have acknowledged what you are lacking and are taking a proactive interest in removing it.

Talk about the weakness and ways in which you are controlling it. Just know this, there are very less hiring managers who are not going to hire you just on the basis of your admission that you have some weaknesses. Instead, they will respect your honesty and straightforwardness.

Turn your positive to negative

Another option you have is to take one of your strengths and turn it into a weakness. This will present you as humble and modest professional. For example, your need to be a perfectionist, wanting to triple-check every item in a list can be referred to as a weakness in certain circumstances (when you have a meeting in 15 minutes time and your manager needs a quick estimate of sales figures).

Why is interviewer interested in your weakness?

Why do interviewers ask about weaknesses when they know there are few honest answers for it? The interviewer’s efforts are to get past the nice, deceptive disguise that you have put on for the interview and get an idea of the real you. Even a dishonest or clever answer ends up telling something about you as a person. An interviewer can assume that you might be secretive, less self-aware or too self-obsessed.

Some sample answers

I used to have difficult time managing multiple tasks at a time couple of years back but now I have learned to prioritize my tasks according to urgency and with the help of different tools.

Sometimes I go too far owing to my perfectionist nature, spending more than necessary time on a task. Although I haven’t missed deadlines, but I have to make extra efforts in the end to get everything completed on time. I am using various time management techniques and tools to counter this.