Tip of the Day - Harness Your Weaknesses

How do you stand out in a sea of candidates that, on paper, look pretty much the same? The answer is not by tooting your own horn and calling out each and every one of your accomplishments. Although some of this is required to emphasize your strong points, you can also stand out by embracing your weaknesses as well.

Imaging you are a recruiter who is interviewing 8 candidates on a college campus. Each of these individuals has a strong resume, a solid GPA and decent experience. All 8 of them are able to speak candidly about their accomplishments and plans for the future. However, one of them makes a point of mentioning to you what he identifies as his greatest weakness. He does not wait to be asked; rather, he goes out of his way to tell you. How would you react?

At first you may be taken aback and think, ‘why would anyone want to point out their greatest weakness.??” The answer is simple. By telling the recruiter your biggest weakness you are displaying modesty, honesty and tenacity all at once. You show that you realize that you are not perfect and that you aren’t going to sugar-coat the areas in which you need improvement. This will make all your actual accomplishments and strong points shine that much brighter. Also, it will show that you are in the habit of identifying your own weakness and are able to develop a plan to attack them.

In my PwC interview I said flat out: my biggest weakness is public speaking. I said:

“By far my biggest weakness is public speaking. It is something that I’ve never been a fan of and have worked hard to improve at. I still get nervous speaking in front of large audiences. I plan to join Toastmasters International to gain more experience with this. I believe that the more practice I get, the better I will become.”

The interviewer was obviously very impressed with my self-assessment. So, if you want to be not just another face in the crowd, take a good look at your own areas of weakness and think about working them into your interview practice.