In an interview, it is difficult to answer the question “What are your weaknesses?” You may dislike being asked this question, but despite its seeming irrelevance, interviewers continue to ask it because your answers can be telling.
Answering a question like this has to be done with some diplomacy. You don’t want to be arrogant or dishonest, but you also do not want to cast doubt on your ability to do the job.
Mistakes People Make
Many people need help on how to answer what are your weaknesses. Some of the mistakes they make are:
Transforming a negative into a positive
You may say “I work too hard” or “I spend too much time making sure my work is perfect.” This is a clever way of talking about a weakness and an approach recommended by many. The problem is that interviewers often see right through you when you take this approach. It is used so often and doesn’t come across as revealing an authentic weakness.
Saying you can’t think of any weaknesses
If you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, you may say you can’t think of any weaknesses. This answer makes it sound as though you’re trying to hide something, but it also reveals that you don’t have much self-awareness.
Being too honest
If you confess that you have a hard time getting up in the morning and making it in to work on time or that you find it impossible to stick to deadlines, you are being too candid.
What are Your Weaknesses: Job Interview Questions You may be Asked
There are different ways of asking questions about what are your weaknesses in a job interview.
- You are probably most commonly asked “What is your greatest weakness?” or “What are some of your weaknesses?”
- Some interviewers may ask “What do you see as your greatest strengths and weaknesses?”
- Some interviewers may say “If I called your previous employer, what do you think he would say you need to work on?”
- Another way to phrase the question is to ask “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would that be?” or “What do you want to improve about yourself within the next year?”
- “What part of the job are you likely to find most challenging?” is yet another way to try and find out more about your weaknesses.
Why Do Interviewers Ask these Questions?
Your answers can be revealing and help the interviewer find out more about you. We all want to present our best side during an interview and asking these questions can help interviewers to go below the surface and give them more of a sense of what you’re really like as an employee.
It’s tough to answer questions about your weaknesses in a job interview when you are already feeling stressed. You’re busy wondering if your hair is sticking up and whether the sweat under your arms is showing. Even the strongest of us can get tripped up by questions about our weaknesses.
“What are Your Weaknesses?” Answers that Will Impress
A good answer describes a weakness that would not be a great handicap in the job and then how you are trying to improve it. This reveals that you’re self-aware and that your weakness will not hold you back.
- Analyze key strengths and skills required for the position and select an authentic flaw not related to these. For instance, if you’re in marketing, it’s not a good idea to reveal that you’re an introvert and battle to communicate with others.
- Select a weakness that it’s not difficult to fix and that you can improve through hard work and with enough motivation. For instance, if you say that you don’t feel confident speaking in a large group, it is something that can be improved with practice.
- Describe your weakness concisely and don’t sound defensive or too negative.
- Begin by mentioning where you started, steps you took to better yourself and then mention the outcome. This is the best way to emphasize the positive when talking about your weakness.
What are Your Weaknesses Answers: Examples
A good answer to what are your weaknesses describes a weakness that would not be a great handicap in the job and then how you are trying to improve it. This reveals that you’re self-aware and that your weakness will not hold you back.
Good answers to what are your weaknesses:
Example 1: Too direct
“I tend to be too direct when addressing issues. I am very straightforward, and many colleagues value this, but there are definitely people who would probably respond better to a more diplomatic approach. A seminar I attended made me realize the importance of communicating differently with different people. I have improved my ability to provide constructive advice.”
Example 2: Too Impatient
“I tend to get impatient with team members who are delivering sub-standard work. I’ve learned over time and through training courses to take a more measured, professional approach. I used to jump to conclusions about which team member was to blame and crash down on the person. It does not come naturally to me to take a step back and look at the situation calmly and analytically before reacting, but I am seeing that it yields much better results.”
Example 3: No salesmanship skills
“As a product manager, I work with internal teams and don’t really have to do any ‘selling’ in my role. However, I do have to communicate with the sales team, and I had difficulty understanding their tactics and strategies. I thought I could benefit from taking a sales skills course. This has helped me in sales meetings, and I found it even helped me to “sell” my vision.”
Example 4: Extreme perfectionist tendencies
“In the past, I tended to proofread every email numerous times or triple check spreadsheets. I would work on the layout of a presentation for hours to make sure it was perfect. I found that my perfectionism was interfering with my productivity. I had to find a balance where I still paid attention to details but knew how to budget my time. I now time myself, so I don’t spend too much time on one task.”
Example 5: Lack of advance planning
“When I started working in my previous position as sales manager, I didn’t plan early enough for the week ahead. For instance, I would wait until the last minute to schedule meetings. I realized that being more proactive about scheduling meetings, helped me to allocate my time for the week more successfully”.
Example 6: Not good with numbers
“As a copywriter, I obviously focus mainly on creative work. However, I began finding that I needed to use digital analytic tools and apply SEO principles to my work. I discovered that when the numbers were related to creative content and how well it was performing, I had an ‘ah ha’ moment. I realized how much numbers could reveal about the responses of those reading my content and started to see them as highly enlightening.”
You can use some of these answers as inspiration for the way you respond. You need to indicate that you are aware of your weakness and you are working on it so it will not interfere with your productivity.