How to answer weakness interview question?
"What's your greatest weakness?" is the question that no one ever quite knows how to prepare to answer.
This single question has the power to determine in one swift blow whether you are a potential asset or a liability to a prospective employer. Luckily, there is a solution – prepare in advance for this dreaded question, and you will tame the monster!
Today, many HR professionals consider this question old-fashioned and pointless. Who would admit to a genuine weakness in a job interview? But interviewers who do ask this question often see it as a test of the candidate's interest and preparation. So, being ready for this question is the best strategy.
Yes, You Do Have a Weakness
The absolute worst answer to this question is:
"I don't have any weaknesses." or "I can't think of any relevant weaknesses."
That shows a complete lack of self-awareness or dishonesty. You may have only one weakness - if you are very lucky (or delusional or not paying attention) - but you do have a weakness. At least one!
Focus! Think about the weaknesses you know you have had in the past, particularly related to your effectiveness at work. Focus on the weaknesses you have overcome, particularly weaknesses that had an impact on your ability to do your job.
You will find examples of weaknesses below. Use these examples as guides to help you describe your own weaknesses in effective answers to this question.Advertisement
Be Prepared with 3 Weaknesses
After you answer this question, you may be asked for a second and even a third weakness, so be prepared. Below, you will find 3 different categories of weaknesses.
Choose one from each category or focus on one type. But, do be prepared with more than one weakness in case you are asked. Often, if your job search is focused on one type of job, one set of weaknesses will be sufficient.
Don't Be Tacky
Most employers are tired of hearing that a job candidate's greatest weakness is that they are a perfectionist or that they are afraid to speak in front of large groups. Those are old, tired responses.
Put some thought into the weakness so you don't choose something that will elimintate you from consideration for the job. Avoid ruining the opportunity by turning the interview into something like a segment on a cheezy TV interview show.
Use the Smart Two-Part Answer
Notice in the example answers below, each answer has two parts:
1. The confession of the weakness, and...
2. The recovery - how you managed yourself to minimize the impact of the weakness, or (more risky) the plan you have for recovery.
Be sure to present these weaknesses in terms of how they impact the employer.
See the examples below. Adapt them to your situation and the employer.
3 Types of Weaknesses: Pick Your Best Weaknesses
You want to position yourself effectively within the interview and need to match positive answers with positive tone of voice and body language.
When you prepare for this question, you will want to pick a weakness that does one of three things:
- The weakness is a strength in disguise, or...
- Present a current strength as a recovered weakness, or...
- The weakness represents an irrelevant weakness
Be sure that this weakness does not hinder your ability to do the job or to fit in with the employer.