Greatest Weakness Interview Question and Answer

how to answer weakness question in an interview

It can be nerve-wracking to answer the “greatest weakness” question in an interview, but we will help you avoid all the pitfalls. The weakness question can be a trap or a chance to show off your skill!  Give the wrong answer and the whole interview could be over before you know it. This guide will show you how to turn negatives into a positive and answer the job interview question about weaknesses with strengths.

This Article Covers:

Different Versions of the Greatest Weakness Question

This question also hides under the disguise of

  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
  • Are you working on any sort of developmental goals?
  • If I called your past supervisor, what would they tell me are areas you could improve on?

What Hiring Managers Really Want To Know

This question is asked in a variety of ways, but what they’re looking for is honesty, self-awareness, and an example of how you deal with mistakes. Saying “I love my work too much!” isn’t just a cliche, but implies that you’re either not aware of any past mistakes, not willing to own up to them, or haven’t learned how to improve or deal with them head-on. Giving a fake answer sounds plastic and fake because it is and doesn’t give the manager any helpful answer and you come across as potentially lying.


Planning Ahead

Some version of this question is going to come up, so be prepared before you walk into that interview room. Think of a time that you had trouble professionally and how you’ve changed either how you perform the job, how you interact with people, or how you resolved this in a professional manner. It could be that you lack a specific certification which would be an excellent point to bring up since the hiring manager has most likely already noticed. That said, make sure to follow that with something very useful and compelling that you’ve done, such as working with people who already have that certification. You need to explain what you’ve done to prepare for the job and why you’re still a good hire, despite your weakness.


Acknowledge Weaknesses But Show Them In A Positive Light

Instead of trying to dodge the question, admit you do have weaknesses, but make sure you take a positive spin on the answer. Talk about weaknesses that can be seen as beneficial and explain how you’ve used them to your advantage. For instance, if you tend to be optimistic and overly ambitious when taking on tasks, mention that is one of your weaknesses, adding in how it motivates you and has made your work stronger in the past.

You could also talk about how you’ve worked on any particular weaknesses to make them strengths. Give a real-world example of an instance where your eagerness for a challenge challenged you, but how you overcame it by developing strategies and skills to whoop whatever was holding you back. This demonstrates that the lack of the skill set wasn’t permanent and shows potential employers that you can work through difficult times instead of moping around.


Choose Growth Opportunities As Your Answer

Whatever your weakness is, be sure to tell an example of how you’re improving. Tell a past mistake and then include what lessons you learned. If time management is an issue and you missed a deadline, be sure to explain what differences you’ve made since then so it won’t happen again. Whatever your weakness is, be sure to show a positive end result.

You want to demonstrate to your potential employer that you are open to self-improvement. When tackling the ‘what is your weakness’ question, pick an area of improvement where you have taken action and have plans to better yourself. Make sure the improvement opportunity relates to the job in some way and provides tangible evidence of your drive and commitment. It’s also a great opportunity for employers to see how adaptive you are and how quickly you can pick up new skills.

For example, you can talk about how you previously had a hard time delegating tasks but have since worked hard to improve that skill. You could mention that you completed leadership training or read books on the topic of delegation. This kind of response will show your interviewer that you recognize having limitations and that you are willing to correct them in order to become more successful in your professional pursuits.


Talk About Skills You’re Working To Improve

Identifying areas of improvement and discussing the steps you’re taking to address them can go a long way in convincing employers that you’re reflective, honest, motivated, and disciplined. By focusing on skills or traits that are not essential for the job at hand, you can show recruiters that your commitment to self-improvement goes beyond merely landing the role. Even if you don’t consider yourself a particularly ‘weak’ candidate in any area, talking about your process of improvement clearly shows insight and ambition.

For example, an accounting candidate could talk about their effort to improve their public speaking skills. Similarly, a salesperson could talk about how they are taking classes to become more familiar with the latest technology. These steps taken proactively, before even having to be asked in an interview, will demonstrate commitment in addition to demonstrating a lifelong commitment to learning and growth.


Emphasize Areas That Are Relevant to The Job

Don’t attempt to breeze past the question. Sometimes people try to brush off this question with a joke: “I eat too much chocolate!” No. This isn’t appropriate and the hiring manager still expects you to answer the question. This includes not addressing jobs that aren’t related like if a graphic artist said they weren’t interested in the financial department. That doesn’t matter to the hiring manager, since that’s not what they’re hiring for.  All you’ve done is look like you don’t take the interview process seriously.

This question is an excellent opportunity to talk about areas where you can grow and are actively looking for avenues to do so. For instance, if the job requires some competency with graphics software, but don’t have a great deal of experience, talking about your effort to enrich your design skills through online courses or tutorials could show that you’re eager to work on positive changes that are also relevant to the job requirements.

It’s important to avoid generalizing that you “lack experience,” as this is a somewhat nebulous concept. Instead, focus on specific areas where you can improve and how your growth in these areas is relevant to the job’s qualifications. For example, it’s better to mention that you don’t have much coding experience but have taken courses to become more familiar with the language. Though these changes may not appear impressive, they can speak volumes about your dedication to developing yourself for an opportunity.


Explain How You Are Working To Shape Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

It’s important to demonstrate that you are aware of your weaknesses and are taking steps to turn them into strengths. In other words, don’t pretend that the weakness doesn’t exist, but use this as an opportunity to show how you recognize and address potential problems. Talk about how you plan to improve the areas where you lack skills or confidence by taking classes, talking with mentors, engaging in training exercises at work, or other methods that can help you become more skilled and prepared for the job requirements.

You will want to discuss real weaknesses in order to show your interviewer that you are honest and open to discussing areas for self-improvement. However, it is also important to make sure that the weakness you choose is manageable and not a glaring problem that would hinder your ability to perform effectively on the job. Reassure the interviewer of your commitment by focusing more on how you have grown and improved, and describing how you plan to continue this improvement going forward if offered this role. Doing so, rather than just listing what you don’t do well, will help portray yourself in a positive light.

For example, you may wish to discuss a weakness such as being overly cautious when taking decisions or struggling to finish multiple tasks at once. Assuage any anxiety the interviewer may have by explaining your strategies for mitigating these challenges, such as introducing self-imposed deadlines or using user feedback to make more confident decisions. Show that you are taking personal ownership of your development and that employers can trust in the fact that you will find solutions to continue your progress.


Key Points to Remember About Weakness Question

  • Be prepared with a real flaw you have that is relevant to this job you’re interviewing for
  • Have a success story ready about it, preferably a recent one
  • Explain how you are working to overcome this or dealt with it in the past

This question is going to come up in one form or another, but you’re prepared to show how you’re actively improving your skills and how it would benefit the employer.

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