“What’s your greatest weakness?”

If you have interviewed for a job or internship, chances are you have been asked this question. In a brief video posted to Forbes’ website, Kathryn Dill provides sage advice on how to handle this question.

Some important themes in her message to take note of include:

Be authentic: It is important to both be aware of your weaknesses and avoid clichés, especially those that are not actually weaknesses (e.g. perfectionism) and can make you seem arrogant.

Be professional: Stick to examples from the workplace. Other formal settings like the classroom, student organizations, or volunteer experiences are OK too.

Be proactive: Select something you have been successful in addressing and share the tactics you have adopted. This approach will allow you to both communicate your problem solving abilities and assure the employer that the weakness will not lead to problems in the workplace.

In my work with advisees, I often share these very same tips. Being able to talk about your weaknesses and how you have addressed them shows that you have a self-awareness that allows for growth. Besides, no one wants to hire someone who cannot recognize their own growing edges, rendering them unteachable and often unpleasant to work alongside.

Being able to talk about your weaknesses and how you have addressed them shows that you have a self-awareness that allows for growth.

In preparation for your interview, take time to reflect on where you have struggled. Select weaknesses that are not vital to the type of position you are applying for as not to raise red flags, and be prepared to talk about how you have succeeded in addressing these weaknesses. I also recommend being prepared to talk about at least 2 or 3 separate weaknesses. Some employers, knowing that you have likely prepared at least one response, may push you to provide additional examples to see how you respond under pressure.

Of course, weaknesses are just one topic you should be prepared to negotiate in an interview. Learn more by meeting with your career advisor or conducting a practice interview with an ASK alumni mentor!