Common interview questions, like what is your biggest weakness, can be very tricky to answer. Really, when you get right down to it, the common interview questions are the ones that get people hired. If you are looking for a new job, you cannot simply "wing it", you must take a more proactive approach. With unemployment at record levels, you can bet that plenty of others will be applying for the same position as you. Don't blow your opportunity to land a new job. You can ace the common interview questions that are going to be asked, if you just put a little time and effort into it. Here's how to answer, what is your biggest weakness, so you can get hired.
Facts about the company:
You will need to gather facts about the company when you answer common interview questions, including what is your biggest weakness. If the company is experiencing rapid growth, make a comment or two during the process. Look to find out exactly how many stores there are. See if they have made the news lately. If it was something positive, that would be a great thing to bring up during the process, so you can get a new job. Common interview questions can be answered more effectively when you have a good feel for the company. Don't stop with a simple internet search. There is plenty more you can do to prepare for common interview questions, like what is your biggest weakness.
Ask around about the company. If they are fairly large, you will want to see if you know someone that works there. If you don't there's a good chance that you know someone, who knows someone, that actually does work there. See if you can find out any details. If the supervisors are really friendly and professional, you'll want to include it during the process. Some of the common interview questions you'll be asked will be answered more effectively when you have a good background on the company you are trying to work for. You will find this type of information to be very helpful during the entire process.
Don't use the perfectionist bit:
Over a decade ago, I worked for a large regional retailer. We were opening up a new store, and I was one of the few conducting the interview. I asked common questions, just like everyone else. What is your biggest weakness always made me cringe. "I'm a perfectionist. I just don't quit until everything is perfect." I heard a variation of this way too many times to count. This was a technique used a decade ago to try to mask a strength as a weakness. Savvy interviewers see through this. I know the others that were involved in the hiring process got tired of it as well. Common interview questions can have unique answers. Trying to avoid answering about your biggest weakness is simply a red flag in the eyes of most that do the hiring. It's overused, and it really just doesn't work. Come up with something unique if you are looking to get a new job.
Try being honest:
If you have some shortcomings, you're just human, so it's okay to admit them. If you try to mask them, you will hurt your chances of landing a new job. Even if the answer to the common interview question seems like it will hurt your chances, you can overcome it, which we will get into a little later. Of course, you don't want to blow your chances of landing a new job. If your biggest weakness involves something like sexual harassment or an inability to work with other people, you may not want to use it during the interviewing process. I guess that would be a little too honest for your own good. You can overcome most things, including a lack of organization. Common interview questions should be answered truthfully.
Have you tried to fix it?
The common interview question comes up, and you state your biggest weakness has always been a lack of organization. You are interviewing for a position that will require good organizational skills. What have you done to fix the problem? In this case, a simple part time class at the local college would show employers that you are addressing the problem. Effort will only take you so far, but it really makes a great impression. When you are asked common interview questions, like what is your biggest weakness, you can try this: "I was never really a very organized person. It cost me promotions and a lot of hard times at work. I decided I needed to address the situation, so I enrolled in an organizational skills workshop at the local tech school. I've made huge improvements, but I know I still need to continue to improve. I'm still working on it, and getting better every day. I know you have about 500 stores regionally, and I want to move up the ladder with the company." WOW! As a former interviewer, I can tell you that I actually heard something very similar to this. The interview was about a decade ago now, but I still remember the answer, and the person giving it. They were hired, due in part to the way they answered common interview questions. With this example, the person showed that they did a little homework on the company, they addressed their biggest weakness, and stated what they have done to fix the situation. Common interview questions like these don't need to be answered with canned, everyday responses.
A little practice:
You don't want to give canned answers to common interview questions, or they just don't sound genuine. When asked what your biggest weakness is, you want to be able to explain what it is, what you have done to improve, and how you will be able to continue to improve. Don't memorize, or you'll end up sounding like a robot. Just get a good feel for the answer you intend to give. Jot down a few notes so you know what to hit, and you should be fine. Common interview questions will help to separate the new hires from the no thank you applicants. What is your biggest weakness?
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