The dreaded weakness question. What not to say!
Being asked to identify and address a weakness is a common aspect of many business school applications. The question may be asked directly in an essay or it may present itself in the letter of recommendation. If you are tasked to answer this question, make sure to avoid these four common mistakes!
1. The “I have no weakness” answer.
Saying that you have no weaknesses is really hard to believe. After all no one is perfect! If you were completely happy with your capabilities, then you would not be applying to business schools where you will be challenged and torn down in the quest to be rebuilt into a better you. Getting an MBA helps you to grow and expand your views about business and the world. To acknowledge weaknesses means that you are open to critique and growth, which is an important part of the business school experience.
2. The weakness that is really a strength answer.
“My weakness is that I am a perfectionist”. This answer may get your through a job interview but it won’t impress an admissions committee! These types of answers come across as stale and demonstrate a lack of self awareness. While an applicant is often afraid to open up out of fear that they will hurt their chances of a offer with their answer, this is a mistake! Displaying self-awareness demonstrates confidence and maturity. The MBA is designed to help you to transform through career coaching, peer evaluation, and other introspective workshops. Showing that you are open to change helps to display humility which is more impressive to an admissions committee than a show of perfectionism.
3. A weakness that you have already conquered.
Saying that you had a weakness but you already improved so much that it is no longer an issue is a way of saying that you don’t have any weaknesses, but in a roundabout fashion. Make sure to avoid this as well!
Let’s consider a person who writes “my first job after college was as a management consultant and I worked in a very competitive environment. I often felt uncomfortable sharing my opinion and standing up for myself. After my manager pointed this out to me, I realized that I needed to be more assertive and I was able to accomplish this slowly. First, I forced myself to share my ideas among my peers. Later, as I gained more confidence I took on more responsibility during client presentations and gained experience defending my opinions. Now, I am able to express my opinions without doubting myself”. Think about this type of example and how you would react if you read it.
I feel that this comes across as boastful. Remember, if you are perfect then you are not open to gaining from the MBA program. Don’t fall into this trap!
4. A weakness that can be solved simply by attending business school.
If your weakness is that you are very weak in finance and you know that by taking X school’s ‘Business Finance’ class you will gain these critical skills, I would advise you to give the question more thought. This is the type of example that also falls flat.
Taking a class is so easy these days. Between online classes and other forms of self-study you could gain finance skills without an MBA degree. Furthermore, a finance class is a core course in all business schools so you are already on the path to overcoming this weakness just by initiating a business school application. Make sure to avoid this type of answer!
What sets Oriel Admissions apart from other admissions consulting companies? I provide highly a personalized service and work around your busy schedule. Your application will truly be your application, only the absolute best version that it could be. We never take a formulaic approach when guiding you.
Rona is an Oxford MBA graduate and she has successfully assisted clients in applying to HEC Paris as well as other top programs both in the US and internationally. If you would like to learn more about my services and how I can help you with your applications, please contact me at email@example.com for a free consultation.