/ Asked by Connor
Any recommendations on how to go about answering the question, "What's your biggest weakness?" I have a sales interview soon, but no sales experience so I assume that is my biggest weakness for this job. Is there any way to make that seem not as big a weakness?
Answered by Ashley, Hiring Expert at Textron Inc., on Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Congrats on receiving your interview, as long as you prepare and practice beforehand you will be fine. “What’s your biggest weakness?” is a make or break question. When an interviewer asks you this question, they’re intentionally trying to see how you respond to a question. It can be really tough question if you are not prepared, so make sure to take the time to practice difficult questions such as this one. Make sure you don’t lie or try to gloss over your weaknesses. Ultimately, most employers want a candidate who’s reflective about their skill sets and accurately assess their skills and abilities.

Your biggest weakness does not have to be lack of sales experience; you can choose another weakness that would not ruin your potential for the position. It’s best to approach this question in 2 parts: the confession of the weakness and how you minimize and recover from your weakness. For example someone’s weakness could be being a self-critic. However the way to recover from the admittance of that is by stressing the value it brings to you such as being meticulous and careful of your actions, as well as including how you are trying to minimize the negative impact of being a self-critic. It’s important to realize that everyone has weaknesses. During your sales focused interview, your ultimate goal is to present a real weakness that does not damage your potential for the position.

I hope this helps with forming a response to this question, good luck!
Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on Friday, August 12, 2016
This is a tricky question that often will cross up an interviewee.  Many times the interviewee is overly fearful of giving an example that will make them look bad, so they respond with something innocuous that does not speak to who they really are, and interviewers can usually see right through this.  What I recommend with this question is one, to be honest and real with your example.  Everyone who will interview you has weaknesses, so it is perfectly normal to identify something that may be yours.  What is most important when answering this question is that you be clear that you know it is a weakness, you are working to address it, and that you are learning and growing from it.  The interviewer will appreciate the honesty and humility as it shows you are someone who can learn and grow as an employee.
Answered by Aliyah, Hiring Expert at HP Enterprise, on Monday, August 15, 2016
In any tough question or describing a difficult situation you faced, always remember to take a negative and turn it around to a positive. That positive is how you can transfer skills you have already to the role or learning on improving.
Sales skills comes in different ways that you learn to use, practice and perfect.
In answering the sales questions, you can talk about not having the direct sales experience is your weakness but how you would use persuasive words or techniques that will be useful in your new position. Maybe provide an example of a time when you convinced someone of your idea.
Or not mention sales as a weakness but something else that you are currently working on improving.
Good question and good luck with your interview.
Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on Thursday, August 18, 2016
I don't love this question.  As a recruiter, as a candidate, doesn't matter, I just don't know if I truly believe it is a good indicator of how someone deals with their personal challenges or reacts under pressure.  That having been said, it most definitely ends up getting asked more times than not.  So good on you for getting yourself ready to answer it!

Ok, weakness, what does it mean?  Personal weakness, work weakness, education weakness, experience weakness?  Do you see where I'm headed here?  It can mean so many things.  So pick one that you feel comfortable talking about. 

Offer the weakness.
Talk about a situation.
Talk about how you managed that situation.
Talk about how you would manage it better in the future.

You are demonstrating self-awareness, the ability to overcome adversity and potentially showing how you think creatively when you need to.

You can do this!

We've also pulled in the response from a peer, Bryan Opat:

It’s true, that tiny question is enough to cause large amounts of anxiety for most candidates. After all, who really wants to admit they have some kind of flaw in an interview? But, if you approach it with the right mindset, maybe you’ll see the opportunity to shine with your response.

In most sales positions, the aspiration to learn and having an incredible work ethic can be just as strong - if not stronger - indicators for success than simply saying you have sales experience. Don’t focus on the lack of sales a weakness necessarily, instead focus on selling the skills you do have that make for a great sales person - tenacity, perseverance, and resilience to name a few.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to hear that you’re human, learn from your experiences, and that you can build on those experiences. All of that requires getting you to admit you’re fallible - at least a little. For instance, maybe you say yes too often and recognize the need to say no. That’s not so terrible, but you need to be open about how you recognize the need to find balance with deliverables and what steps you’ve taken to get better at prioritizing the work you accept. Bingo - your recruiter sees you already recognize and are on top of this particular weakness and probably sees it as a non-issue overall.

Good luck with your interview, and remember to sell those qualities that make a person great in sales!
Answered by Kate, Hiring Expert at ADP, on Tuesday, August 30, 2016
This is one of the interviewing questions, no one likes to answer. Employers want to see 1) how you handle tough situations 2) Is your weakness something that can be managed or maybe is even irrelevant to the job. Everyone has at least one weakness (most of us have multiple) so the worst answer to this question is "I don't have any weaknesses". Try explaining that even though you do not have sales experience, you're a fast learner, open-minded and highly trainable. Give a brief explanation of how you've picked up a work-related task quickly that you didn't know before. To answer this quest best, present a truthful weakness that does not ruin your potential for the position, but also does not come across as dishonest, unrealistic, or staged. Good luck! 
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