Why admitting weakness could be your biggest strength
“What’s your greatest weakness?” is a favourite interview question and can feel like a trick – why would anyone want to discuss their faults? There is no perfect answer, but it can still be used to boost your chances of getting a job. We look at how best to tackle this question.
Be honest and avoid clichés
You don’t want to talk yourself out of a job. If you start discussing weaknesses that are critical to the role, this will be a fairly serious if not fatal issue. You don’t want to say you hate public speaking where most of your role requires this quality. You want to discuss a skill that’s helpful to the job but not vital. Your answer needs to show self-awareness and demonstrate you have started to correct the issue.
However, you also need to be honest – the interviewer will recognise a rehearsed answer that’s insincere. Similarly, avoid clichés – they will have heard them all before and it undermines you as a strong and honest candidate. Saying that you’re a perfectionist or workaholic is not a good answer.
What should you discuss?
Talk about an issue that shows a true weakness, but one you’ve started to overcome with relevant tactics. Admitting a minor weakness with a positive spin demonstrates you’re being truthful with your answers during the interview, as well as showing you’re willing to grow and improve.
You can use your previous experiences to highlight a trait you feel needs improving. For example, if your organisation skills or time management have been an issue in the past but you’ve found skills and methods to overcome this, be sure to highlight it. These are important qualities for a lawyer, but by raising it as something you realised you had to address shows you appreciate the skills a successful lawyer needs.
Similarly, you may feel you’ve had issues in the past with indecisiveness. Admitting that you used to find it difficult to know when a task was complete is something you can expand upon. Explaining how you’ve adapted your habits to work more efficiently, so you know when you need to move on from a job, shows you’re growing the skills required to handle a lawyer’s workload.
As a trainee or new lawyer, you’ll be keen to please and eager to show willingness. But this can be an issue where you aren’t sure when to say no to someone. Admitting that you’ve had to learn to turn down work when you’re at full capacity illustrates that you’re a team player, but also that you know you have to be realistic.
In short, chose an honest, authentic answer that’s tailored to your circumstances, and make sure you demonstrate that you’re able to improve.