What Are Your Weaknesses? How to Answer This Question

You got the interview. You made it on time. You’ve nailed every question so far…and then it happens. The dreaded question: “What are your weaknesses?” 

Oof. No matter how much you prepare, this can be a challenging question to answer. Should you be completely honest? How detailed should you get? Could this answer sink your chances of getting the job? Maybe your ability to answer this question is your weakness. 

Here’s a secret: It’s not always the answer to this question that matters, but how you answer this question–how you deliver, how you present, and how you word it. 

Related: “Are you a risk taker?” – How to answer this in an interview

Here are a few tips for answering the dreaded, “What are your weaknesses?” question in an interview.  

Don’t exaggerate 

Saying “I work too hard,” or “I’m too much of a perfectionist” is not going to get you brownie points. These answers seem like exaggerations and don’t feel genuine. Don’t just add the word “too” to a trait and think it makes it a weakness.

Use weaknesses that still show strength

Being detail-oriented is great. Being overly focused on details can be a weakness but it still shows you nail those details. Having a hard time delivering feedback because you’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings shows you care about others and you’re considerate. 

Show that you’re working to improve

To do this, try to format your answer like, “I struggle with….but…”

For example:

“I can be disorganized, but it’s never impacted my performance.”

Then focus on how you could be even better if you fixed the problem.

“I know that if I better organized my desk and my files, I could be even more efficient.” 

Give specific ideas of how you could improve and what you’re already doing to improve in this area. You don’t want them to think you’re not working to improve something you already know is a weakness.  

You could also use something that was a weakness but improved when given new tasks and responsibilities. Give specific instances of how it improved and little ways that you’re still working on it. 

Be company-specific

Do some research on the company (which you should do anyway) and learn what traits they value. If you don’t have one of those traits, be honest but talk about how you would like to acquire that trait. 

For example: If many of the leaders within the company speak at events and workshops and you’re not a big public speaker, mention it. But be sure to mention you’d like to improve your public speaking skills and how the example of these leaders could help you do so. 

RelatedInterview Tips for Introverts

Don’t choose something that will hurt your ability to do your job

If you’re applying for a writing job, don’t say that self-editing is your weakness. Choose something that, when improved upon, will help you do your job better and more effectively. If you choose something that goes above and beyond the job description, and give specific examples on how to improve it, it shows you’re already thinking of ways to succeed within the company. 

Be honest

Choose real weakness and be honest about your willingness to improve. If you offer thoughts on improvement and don’t follow through when those opportunities arise, your employer will notice and it could hurt your chances at keeping your job.  

Be prepared but not scripted

This question will most likely come up. It might not be phrased the same, but employers want to know that you are self-aware, that you recognize your faults, and that you’re willing to improve. So, don’t let this question, or some form of it, catch you off-guard. Have an answer prepared but not memorized–you don’t want to sound like you’re reading a script!

The most important thing you can do when faced with this cringe-worthy question is to be genuine. Just have an honest conversation about the areas where you want to improve. Any employer will respect that. 

Good Luck! We are here for you!

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