Every interviewee who has ever sat down with an employer during an interview has been asked “What is your biggest weakness?”, and many find it very frustrating. Why ask the question if the employer knows they are very likely to get a fake answer like, “I’m too much of a perfectionist”?
Well, believe it or not, your employer is actually paying more attention to how you answer the question rather than to what your answer is. In this guide, we’ll show you how having a public speaking weakness could be the best way to get around this challenging question.
Check out some of our interview guides to get a better understanding of how the way you respond could be more important than the actual answers to interview questions.
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There are multiple techniques that individuals use to try and appeal to their employer when asked this question about a weakness, and the truth is, most of those techniques don’t actually work. Here is a list of techniques you want to avoid:
Spin a negative into a positive – Saying things like “sometimes I think I am too much of a perfectionist”, is advised by a lot of interview guides to try and turn the biggest weakness of the individual into something that is desired by the employer. There are many things wrong with this technique. First off, it does not make you stand out because a lot of interviewees attempt this technique. Secondly, the employer is smarter than you think, they can see right through what you are trying to do and that usually does not bode well for the rest of the interview.
Deny having any weaknesses – This is more uncommon among interviewees but there are still a substantial amount that use this technique. This answer is usually given when candidates get nervous during an interview and are afraid of saying something wrong. This answer also gives the impression that you are hiding something, so it is best to avoid using this technique even though some interviewees believe it makes them seem like a perfect candidate. No one is perfect.
Stating any weaknesses that raise red flags – It is important that you are honest during your interview. But sometimes, being too honest prevents you from landing that job you want. Candidates who walk into the interview and give an honest answer to this question, saying something like “I think my biggest weakness is not being a consistent worker”, get credit for honesty but aren’t likely to get the job after having confessed to a major employee defect.
Hopefully, by now, you are starting to recognize why we are suggesting that having a public speaking weakness could be a good strategy.
Why you should answer with the Public Speaking Weakness
The amount of public speaking that an individual is required to do is highly correlated to their position. If you were to be in a financial analyst position, there would be rarely any public speaking required of you, and, thus, it’s a fairly safe interview answer to say you have a public speaking weakness.
Conversely, if you’re in a more senior position, public speaking is probably something you are required to do on a much more regular basis. This brings us back to how you should answer the main question, “What is your biggest weakness?”. You might try using the same method, but come up with a different answer.
Depending on the position you are applying for, using the public speaking weakness response could be a strategically safe answer and there are multiple reasons for this. First, it is a relatively honest answer which does not include any of the mistakes mentioned earlier.
Secondly, it may not even be a requirement for the particular position you are applying for, which means you have answered the question safely and have not harmed yourself or your chances of landing the position. Again, keep in mind that this answer is dependent on the position you are applying for. You may want to avoid using this answer if you are applying for higher-level positions.
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Now that you have aced the biggest question with the ultimate public speaking weakness answer, here are some tips that can aid you in the rest of the interview:
Be confident – Make sure to give a strong, firm handshake accompanied by your best smile when you walk into the room and greet your prospective employer.
Practice – Drafting some questions that you think your employer might ask you and practicing responses prior to your interview can really make a difference in how you perform in the interview.
Be calm – Although many candidates find it difficult to do so, just remember that an interview is basically a simple conversation between you and your employer. Your employer really only wants to know more about you. It is not an interrogation.
Show up early – A lot of interviewees find it helpful when they show up approximately 15 minutes prior to their interview time. This allows them to calm their nerves and clear their head while they wait, which allows them to enter the interview feeling ready and worry-free.
Dress to impress – The way you present yourself through answering interview questions is one half of the interview. The other half is how you present yourself through your choice of clothing. A clean suit and tie can really go a long way in letting your employer know that you have prepared for this interview.
Do research on the company you’re applying for – A lot of the times, candidates find themselves more confident when they do research into the company prior to the interview. This aids them in better understanding what it is they are applying for and gives them a leg up in the interview process because they become more comfortable with the company.
Body language – Do not slouch in your seat. This gives off the impression that you are not taking the interview seriously. Instead, sit up high and straight.
Bring a copy of your resume – Sometimes your employer may not have a copy of your resume on hand because it got lost. As a nice way of providing for your employer and also looking super prepared, make sure to bring an extra copy for them.
Speak loud and clear – The way you speak is very telling to your employer. If you are too quiet, your employer will think you are too shy and this could affect your chances of landing the position. Speaking out loud and clearly not only lets your employer know you are confident but it also ensures that there is no miscommunication during the interview process.
Ask insightful questions – Usually, at the end of the interview, your employer will ask you if you have any questions. This is the time to ask questions based on the research you did on the company to demonstrate that you are really enthusiastic about being a part of their team.
Turning a public speaking weakness into a strength
If you want to get over your public speaking weakness, consider joining Toastmasters.
Toastmasters offers an easy, low-pressure environment to work on your public speaking skills and, most importantly, to learn from others.
Whether or not you actually have a public speaking weakness, there are a wide range of skills that are critical in the business world. Check out these other topics which provide important information for advancing your career in corporate finance.