While every company has a unique process for a job interview, many ask some of the same questions of job seekers. One that you will likely be asked for in any position in any industry is what your biggest weaknesses are. When it comes to talking about weaknesses for a job interview, a strategy should go into the process. Certifications and a great cover letter might have gotten you an interview, but another strategy is needed to get past this hurdle
Practicing answers to common interview questions is essential to doing a good job. While it might be easy to list off what your greatest strengths and skills are, talking about weaknesses can be more challenging. It takes more consideration, especially if you don’t want to sound as if you can’t manage the job. Waiting until the last minute could send you back into the job search process.
This guide is designed to share with you how to handle weaknesses for a job interview. We’ll cover why recruiters and managers ask this question, how to choose the right answer, tips for making your answer land, and then provide a few weaknesses examples for you to use. So jump in and read on to learn more and hit it out of the park at your interview.
Why Interviewers Ask the “What Are Your Weaknesses” Question
You might wonder why an employer asks about a weakness for a job interview. The reality is that managers want to know more about who you are and how you’ll collaborate with co-workers to determine if you’ll do well in a position. Your strengths are part of that, but your weaknesses will also play a part. While nobody wants to go into depth about the things they struggle with, knowing how to answer this question is key.
When an employer asks about weaknesses, they’re looking to see how you handle the question. Everything from the weakness you pick to your body language can give insight into whether you’re the right fit. This is especially true if someone isn’t prepared to answer. You will be once you read through this guide, which gives you a leg up on the competition.
Breaking it down, asking about your weaknesses lets an employer know how you handle challenges, adversity, shortcomings, and criticism. But that isn’t the sole reason this question is so popular for interviews. It can also let someone know if you’re negative, defensive, arrogant, or self-aware based on your response. Consider this and other “why should we hire you” questions a way to show off your hard skills and soft skills.
Picking the Right Weaknesses for a Job Interview
When you’re asked about a weakness for a job interview, there are several things to keep in mind. You want to be sure that you select an answer that paints you in a good light, even if you’re admitting that you aren’t a perfect person. While you compile potential weaknesses for an interview, try to keep things positive. You want to make sure that even when speaking about weaknesses, you keep a cool head. The tips below will help you do that with ease.
Step 1: Don’t Mention Important Skills for the Position
When you’re asked, “what is your biggest weakness,” avoid talking about a skill or ability that is essential to the job. You do not want to say that you’re not skilled at verbal communication if you are applying for a job where that’s something you will do every day. Instead, choose a skill that you’ll likely never need to do at work.
As you mention that you’re not good at this skill, you can make sure to weave in that you’re good at something else the job does require. So, for the example above, you might say you’re not adept at visual presentations because you are better at verbal one-on-one chats.
Think about what matters in the job and make your weakness unrelated to that. Then connect that to a skill the hiring manager wants you to have to ensure you appear to be a great person to hire for the job you want.
Step 2: Consider Mentioned Past Weaknesses
Some will consider the “what is your weakness” best answer to be one that doesn’t admit a current weakness. Instead of mentioning a skill that is unrelated to the job, think about a skill you’ve been improving or have turned into a positive from a negative. This shows the manager doing the interview that you are self-aware and open to improving yourself.
However, keep the first step in mind here, too. Don’t say that a crucial skill for the job was something you improved. This might make the interviewer wary about whether you have all the needed qualifications for the job. Be strategic about which weaknesses to admit in an interview.
Step 3: Talk About Weaknesses in Your Private Life
If you want to be honest but avoid delving into something that might blow the interview, there are other options. What are good weaknesses for a job interview? Delve into your personal life, you have a good example to share with the hiring manager. After all, it isn’t required that your weakness pertains to the job you are interviewing for.
Think about a weakness in your private life that caused an issue and talk about that. It’s even better if you can describe how you overcame the weakness to be a better-rounded person. Keep in mind that you can choose between skills, habits, or personality traits for weaknesses, depending on what works best for you.
Step 4: Choose a Weakness That Fits a Story
Regardless of the weakness you choose, you need to be able to talk about it. Simply stating you have a weakness isn’t going to give the hiring manager a lot to go off of. Start by stating what the weakness is, and then give an example or story of how this trait has impacted your life.
When you choose a weakness with context behind it, it gives the potential employer more information about your commitment and self-awareness as well as your ability to move forward. If your weakness doesn’t lend itself to a scenario or further information, consider using a different one for your interview answer.
How to Answer the “What Is Your Greatest Weakness” Question? 4 Useful Tips
One of the things to consider in how to answer what are your biggest weaknesses is the way you spin your answer. You can use the useful interview tips below to ensure you answer this question the way a hiring manager wants you to. The most important thing is to prepare a response in advance, so you aren’t caught off guard. The following tips will help ensure your answer lands well.
Tip 1: Be Honest with the Biggest Weakness Interview Question
For this question (and other interview questions), being honest is an essential part of the process. You want to make sure you tailor your answer to your own life and experiences. An authentic answer is sure to sound better than something that isn’t true. Interviewers expect a real weakness so think about challenges you had at your last job and move on from there.
While being honest and truthful is important overall, it’s especially important in this situation. If you sound as if you’re just reciting something that isn’t accurate, it may make it seem as if you are insincere. Simply stating that your weakness is time management, delegating tasks, or being self-critical will also do no favors.
Tip 2: Show You Are Aware of a Weakness and Working Toward Improvement
When you consider how to answer what are your weaknesses, it’s good to prioritize weaknesses you are working on or have overcome in the past. This shows that you see your own limitations but are willing to work to get better at things. Start out talking about the weakness originally and the steps you took to improve it, as well as the outcome.
This can be a personal or job-specific weakness, but typically work skills are the best option. However, as mentioned, don’t choose something essential to the job or a big part of the daily tasks. A skill that is used occasionally or useful in any job is fine to use for this purpose.
Tip 3: Create a Positive Spin on the Greatest Weakness Interview Question
If it’s possible, consider adding a positive spin to your discussion about weaknesses. How does this work? Talk about a weakness you had and how you turned it into a strength. Or talk about what steps you are taking now to improve the weakness. While you talk about your weakness, avoid negative words like “disaster,” “failure,” “hate,” “inept,” or embarrassment.”
To share this, taking steps to improve a weakness should happen before an interview. This makes your answer sincere and that will shine through when you speak. There are many ways to add positivity to a weakness. You could shadow someone, use software or tools, join an organization, or take a training course.
4. Make Sure to Take the Question (And Your Answer) Seriously
Saying you have no weaknesses is a bad plan. It can make it seem as if you have no self-awareness. It means you are too confident, don’t know who you are, are in denial about yourself, or haven’t learned from your mistakes. The question is asked because everyone has weaknesses, so opening up is a must.
In addition, don’t say something that isn’t true or that avoids the real question. For instance, saying you are a perfectionist can seem as if you are trying too hard and avoiding a real answer. Take the question seriously and talk about it realistically while elaborating on the weakness, its impact, and your reaction to it.
“What Is Your Weakness” Best Answers: 3 Examples
You might be wondering what are your weaknesses best answers and we’re here to share some of the top choices. This can be a hard question to answer since you go into an interview to talk about your abilities, skills, capabilities, and talents. Our “what is your greatest weakness” answer samples will give you an idea of how to frame your weaknesses so you sound competent and make it to further steps in the hiring process.
Use our 3 weaknesses job interview examples as a way to make up your own example answers. The best way to do this is by choosing weaknesses that also show your strengths. It shows a hiring manager that you’ve thought deeply on the topic and learned something about yourself. Take a look at these examples of weaknesses and sample answers to be better prepared for follow-up inquiries.
Example 1: I sometimes have difficulty asking for help when I need it.
“I’m an independent person, and l like to get through my daily tasks quickly, which can make it challenging to ask for help when it’s needed. I’ve learned that it can be helpful for the company and me when I speak to someone if I don’t understand something or feel as if I’m burned out at work. I know that others have knowledge I can use and skills that can improve my work. This is something I am still working on, but I’ve had success creating better quality work when I ask for help when needed.”
Why It’s a Good Answer
Everyone needs to ask for help sometimes. By framing it as in the example above to the job interview question, you show that you understand that and have been working to be more confident in asking for assistance. Knowing how and when to ask for help shows awareness that you can assist the company by using the talents of others. Being independent and having a strong work ethic are both positive, but you also need to show you can ask for help.
How Not to Answer Tips
What’s a way you shouldn’t answer the question? Certainly, don’t use a lack of asking for help without any extra information. It’s also not recommended to say you have no weaknesses or try to say something that is solely positive is a weakness, such as perfectionism. Even if you spin that so it sounds negative, a hiring manager is likely to see through it and take that into account when it comes to the hiring decision. If you’ll be working with organization skills or project management, avoid bringing those skills up here.
Example 2: I have trouble maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
“I love what I do, and I’m ambitious about moving up in my career, so it can be a challenge to keep a healthy balance between my personal life and work life. Sometimes, when I am focusing on work and not my personal needs, I’ve noticed that it can impact my drive and focus when it comes to my work tasks. By realizing this, I’ve made it a point to schedule time to focus on my family. Turning my phone off at dinnertime has been helpful. Having a good work/life balance lets me get more done and feel excited to come to work every morning.”
Why It’s a Good Answer
Work/life balance is essential to remaining motivated in any job so this is a good answer to a weaknesses question. Spending every second on work might show worth ethic, but it can also cause you to burn out over time. Prioritizing rest, hanging out with the family, doing hobbies, and taking vacations help with that. If this is a weakness you choose, make sure to indicate how you now balance these aspects of life, and your work is better for it.
However, check into company culture to make sure you don’t say something that is considered negative.
How Not to Answer Tips
For this weakness, don’t answer by saying you have trouble with work/life balance but continue to move in that same direction. While it can show you care greatly about your work, it can also be an indication that you haven’t learned to balance your life. At some point, focusing solely on work can have negative consequences, which any hiring manager is likely to be aware of.
Example 3: I tend to focus on details more than the bigger picture at times.
“I’d say my biggest weakness is how I focus on details and analyze projects too much to see every point of view. I’ve been trying to improve on this by checking in with myself and making sure I am taking in the larger picture. This lets me ensure my quality is high, but I don’t spend so long on the little things that it could affect the productivity of my team to the point where deadlines are missed, or other tasks don’t get completed.”
Why It’s a Good Answer
This is one of the methods where you can spin an answer into a positive. Being detail-oriented is often considered good. However, spending too long on something can drag down the team. When you give this answer, you let the interviewer know that you are capable of finding even small mistakes. But you also want to be sure you talk about how you’re working on things to avoid the negative parts of this weakness. You need to show that you care about quality but have or are trying to find a balance.
How Not to Answer Tips
For this weakness, don’t answer that you focus on details too much without further context. Some employers will assume it means that you take too much time and energy to look at things that might not matter in the greater scheme of things. It also doesn’t sound as if your weakness is a humble type of bragging by assuming focusing on the details is always a good thing. Make sure to add context to your answer.
4 Weakness Examples to Use During an Interview
If you still aren’t sure which weaknesses to say in an interview, we have a list of weaknesses to help you. Take some time to look over the “what are your weaknesses” examples and think about which fit your situation. Remember to be honest and do more than state a weakness. You need to ensure you spin things positively, as mentioned above.
Weakness 1: Lack of Organizational Skills
When it comes to weaknesses to say in an interview, a lack of organizational skills is a good choice. Tons of people aren’t organized and still do great work. It’s relatable, and it’s something you can work on. Make sure you don’t indicate that your organization's issues impact your job, but you can note that it might make you slightly less efficient. Explain how you’ve worked to conquer the issue to do better in the future.
Weakness 2: Timidity
This is an answer you can use if you have since made your way to the other side. It’s a great example of a weakness that can be a strength once you work through it. So you’re explaining how you turned a weakness into a strength that benefits you and your job. While being timid might be a weakness, especially if you need to provide feedback to people, you can use it as a strength by explaining how practice and reflection have made you less shy about speaking up.
Weakness 3: Fear of Public Speaking
When it comes to a fear of public speaking, it should only be used if it isn’t used in the job you are interviewing for. It gives you something to talk about improving that doesn’t have an impact on the role you want to get. This can be a great choice since it shows you work to improve even when it doesn’t have to do with a profession. It also shows you’re willing to search for areas to improve yourself without the help of a manager.
Weakness 4: High Sensitivity
While it might initially seem bad to have high sensitivity, it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to explain that this can be a weakness and a strength. For instance, talk about how you’ve learned not to take things personally when a manager has negative things to say to you. You can also talk about how it makes you better at working on a team because you notice when someone around you needs help.
Key Takeaways on Good Weaknesses for Interviews
Now have you have a good grasp on weaknesses for a job interview, you’re sure to make a great impression. You can take the information here and use it to make sure your answer to this question gives the hiring manager insight into what a good employee you would make. You never know when having one more great answer could give you a chance at a job you really want to have.
If you want some extra career advice help, think about questions to ask in an interview that show you know about the company you want to work at. You can also get some insight into what to wear to an interview as a female so you can dress to impress. Make sure you look into all the resources so you can be sure your interview gives a positive impression of you! It could be the last thing that sets you on a course toward a new job offer.