Your ‘greatest weakness’ as a learning opportunity

  • April 24, 2019
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 2 minute read

There is one interview question we all fear: “What is your greatest weakness?”

I’ve always known I was afraid of change. When answering that question, my immediate response was that my greatest weakness was a fear of failure and discomfort with the unknown. As an individual who lived in a small suburban area my whole life, I didn’t have to face my fears until I decided to attend WashU. New city, rigorous classes and unfamiliar people. I was scared.

Kristine Yim, BSBA 2021, majors in marketing and economics & strategy and has been working as a strategy fellow at Bear Studios for one year. She wrote this for the Olin Blog.

I think we all have some level of fear when we face change. Whether you are stepping into an interview, going to a networking event, or giving a presentation, there are many questions about the outcome. When I first came to college, I questioned myself frequently. Will I make genuine friends? Will I be able to do well in my classes? Will I be able to join clubs I enjoy? Although the outcome is important, I believe the process I use to reach the outcome is more important.

I’ve had amazing experiences at Washington University thus far. I joined a student-run consulting business called Bear Studios, performed a taekwondo routine for a full audience, and pledged a business fraternity. This would not have been possible if I stayed in my comfort zone.

Step into the unfamilar

Instead, I decided to enter into situations by stepping into the unfamiliar. I’ve learned that the best way to overcome my weakness is to put myself in uncomfortable circumstances that test my levels of confidence and familiarity. I have had a great deal of awkward conversations, churns in my stomach, and painful rejections, but as I challenged myself to keep going, I finally reached success.

Ultimately, I learned to consider my weaknesses as a form of self-improvement.

Although I have become a better risk-taker, it is still a skill that demands improvement.  

Kristine Yim

For example, I am in a class called  Entrepreneurial Collaboration: Madagascar, and I will be going to that country over the summer to implement a solution for sustainability.

At first, I was afraid of going abroad for a month for the first time where living conditions are going to be very difficult. However, I knew my desire to help others outweighed any fears or hesitations I might hold. I didn’t want my uncertainty about the future to inhibit my once in a lifetime chance at making a significant impact.

Deep down, I still hold fears about the unknown. However, I have learned to turn that fear into a healthy pursuit of the future and its uncertain opportunities. My time at Olin has challenged me to immerse myself in the most unexpectedly influential experiences, and I hope nothing less for myself in the future.

Pictured above: Kristine Yim (left) performs during the Lunar New Year festival at Washington University in St. Louis, January 2019.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

Contact Us

For assistance in finding faculty experts, please contact Washington University Public Affairs.

Monday–Friday, 8:30 to 5 p.m.

Sara Savat, Senior News Director, Business and Social Sciences


Kurt Greenbaum,
Communications Director

Twitter: WUSTLnews