"What's Your Weakness" Formula For Interview Preparation


How to answer the question, “What is your greatest weakness?” 

It is one of those tricky interview questions that interviewers will sometimes ask. Why would the interviewer want to focus on your weaknesses rather than your strengths? What are they trying to figure out? 

There could be a few things, for example:

  • Your self-awareness
  • How you transformed a weakness
  • Team balance 

Having self-awareness is critical. Hey, no one is perfect, and they don’t expect you to be either. So, own your weaknesses and share how you overcame, learned, grew, and transformed them. Taking control of a professional weaknesses shows the interviewer you take the initiative and are willing to uplevel your skills when needed. 

Also, when the interviewer asks about weaknesses, it gives insights into what you can and can’t do, which will help them see where others on the team balance out your weakness. For example, if “taking risks” is a weakness and the job requires risk-taking, might there be another team member known for that? From an interviewer's perspective, that would be an outstanding balance of a team's strengths and weaknesses.

When formulating your answer, keep the job description in mind. Ideally, you want to share a weakness that is not a big part of the job. For example, if the job is very detail-oriented, you do not want to share that your attention to detail is weak unless you could spin it into a strength using The Weakness Formula. 

How to use The Weakness Formula to help you frame your answer:

  1. Identify the weakness (inspiration: list of weaknesses)
  2. What did you do to improve the weakness? (implemented systems, took a course, learned a new skill, etc.):
  3. The transformation: how you overcame and the result or outcome

For example, I successfully dodged numbers and analytics up to a certain point in my career until I got called into the CEO’s office one day. Up until that point, I had been shielded by my direct boss. But unfortunately, she was out that week, and he needed to see data for a particular campaign with specific numbers. 

I stood in his office, hearing him spout out some reports he needed. It sounded like he was speaking in a foreign language. It was late on a Friday, and he told me he needed to have the answer by Monday morning. 

Luckily, we had an analytics team who was able to walk me through the basics and the numbers and data that he was looking for. Then, the analytics team put a report together, and they were able to walk me through it and share what the data represented. 

The answer wasn’t good in this case, but luckily, that wasn’t my fault. But, from there, I understood it and could make recommendations for improving our marketing campaigns. 

If I were to talk about this weakness in an interview, I’d make sure that “weak analytical skills” weren’t a big part of the job requirements. Then, if it were, I’d choose to speak about something that would not prevent me from succeeding in the role, maybe something like “fear of public speaking.”

Assuming “weak data analytics” wasn’t a significant part of the role, I’d share that I hadn’t been a very analytical person. But, because of my new promotion from marketing manager to Head of Music, my job description grew, and I needed to know how to use specific data points to make informed marketing decisions. So, I needed to learn and up-level my skills to thrive in my new role.

I immediately enrolled in an Omniture class because that was the company's software to track analytics. Simultaneously, I befriended a coworker on the analytics team to walk me through various reports. Then, I built automated reports around our KPIs, which gave me insights into how we could improve campaign performance. Finally, these reports and recommendations were emailed weekly to various stakeholders (like the CEO), creating transparency. 

This example followed The Weakness Formula. First, I identified my professional weakness and showed how I took action to learn the skill and the outcome.

Now, it's your turn. Use the formula with your weakness and share it in the Purpose Driven Facebook group!


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