Answering tough aviation interview questions: What’s your biggest weakness?

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Candidates for all types of jobs squirm at this question and that’s quite understandable.  While we might be completely aware of our weaknesses, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll feel comfortable putting those cards on the table at an interview for our dream job.  Disclosing your biggest weakness to a potential employer can seem like a great way of shooting yourself in the foot and scuppering your chances of bagging a great job.  However, if planned properly, disclosing your biggest weakness can be a great way to show maturity, control and professionalism.

The best way to answer this tough question in aviation interviews is, like everything else, to prepare ahead and be ready.  And before we give you the main tips we want to share with you, let us just share one word of advice.  If you’re thinking of answering this question with the reply “I don’t have any weaknesses”: beware!  We all have weaknesses and a real strength is recognising those weaknesses and dealing with them.

Here’s how we’d recommend you plan ahead to answer this particularly tough aviation job interview question:

  1. Accept that you have weaknesses. The best place to start planning your answer to this question is to accept that you, along with everyone else has weaknesses.  Even your greatest hero or heroine has weaknesses.  The secret is dealing with them smartly and cleverly.

  2. Grit your teeth and acknowledge that you’re likely to be asked this question at interview. This question is the curved ball that could really throw you at interview if you’re not prepared for it, so don’t even be tempted to bury your head in the sand on this one.  Accept that it’s likely to be asked and be as prepared as you can be, just incase.

  3. List your weaknesses. Not something to do on a rainy Sunday perhaps, but only by looking at your list of weaknesses are you likely to be able to distance yourself slightly from them and decide which one you’re prepared to confess to at interview.

  4. Choose the weakness you’re most comfortable talking about. Once you’ve made your list, rather than be tempted to choose what you think is the least significant weakness, seek to identify one that you can somehow turn into a strength.  For example if your weakness is that you’re someone that bends over backwards to please everyone and to be liked by everyone, then the underlying strength is that you’re probably a pleasure to work with.  Alternatively, if you feel that you’re too self critical, the strength for a potential employer might be that you’re meticulous and careful in your work.

  5. Identify how you deal with the weakness. Once you’ve decided which weakness you’re prepared to reveal, spend time identifying how you deal with the weakness in question, particularly in the workplace.  Think about how (if at all) it impacts on others and how you minimise any negative impact and turn it into a positive.

  6. Check to see if your weakness is really a strength in weak clothing. As we’ve outlined in point number 4., many weaknesses are in fact strengths disguised as weaknesses.  If you can make this connection with the weakness you’re planning to talk about, all the better.

  7. Decide how you want to confess to the weakness. Making a confession to a weakness in an interview is a stressful process if you’re not ready for it.  But if you prepare ahead, you can present the weakness and how it could have a negative impact for the potential employer.  Put words around this that are brief and to the point.

  8. Put words around how you deal with the weakness. Once you have confessed to the weakness you then need to move quickly on to how you manage the weakness and if possible turn it into a strength from the employers point of view.

  9. Say it all out loud. When you have all these things planned and written out either in full sentences or in bullet point form, practice saying it out loud.  Try to make sure that your confession and solution don’t last any more than 2-3 minutes. 

  10. Learn what you want to say so it trips off your tongue easily and confidently on the day. The more you say your response, the more comfortable you’ll become with it, so do it often before your interview.

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