If there’s one question that absolutely everyone dreads in a job interview, it’s the ‘what is your weakness’ question. There’s a million ways to answer this one, and none of them are the perfect, problem-free solution you’re looking for. Rather than looking for the perfect answer, look at the list below, choose one that applies most to you, and use it. Don’t use more than two, though – you’re being asked about your greatest weakness, not a list of how you’re unfit to be employed.
Remember this before anything: honesty is the best policy. You might be inclined to say “sometimes, I’m too much of a perfectionist” or “I work too hard”, but you really should give them the honest answer. Remember: the person interviewing you has interviewed lots of people before, and they’ve heard every variation of this answer, so they’ll know right away when you’re trying to make yourself look good by lying.
The trick is to say something that’s relevant to your job, but supplant the answer with how you’re handling the problems that the weakness presents. So, say, if you’re applying to a position that requires working with a large number of people regularly. The weakness might be “I’m bad at remembering names”, and the follow-up is “but I’m great at remembering faces and facts about people, so I have no trouble relating to people I’ve just met”. The point of this question is to see how good you are at overcoming your flaws.
Unless your job has to do with public speaking this is a great answer that can be used by anyone. Almost no one considers themselves good at public speaking, and the interviewer will definitely be able to relate. Follow-up: “but I’m great at one-on-one communication”.
Everyone feels like they’re in over their head sometimes, and that there’s just not enough hours in the day. Turn this into a positive by saying “I log everything into a daily planner now and announce how much time I have for each meeting before it starts so that I can keep up with my schedule”.
Everyone hates being checked up on all the time, and the interviewer will definitely know what you’re talking about from experience. What you should say right after is that you’d like to be responsible for your work on your own, and being told what to do all the time makes it less fulfilling for you to work. If this is a problem for your employer, maybe you should reconsider wanting to work there.
An acceptable answer, if phrased right. If your job isn’t mostly listening to people, you can say this and follow up with “but I’ve learned to keep copious and meticulously organized notes”.
Pick one that wouldn’t directly affect your job. If you’re saying you’re not good at numbers, say you’ve learned how to do complex equations in Excel (but only if it’s true). And if you’re saying you’re not very good at writing, say that the problem concerns mostly business communications, and that you’ve implemented a template that you’ve been successfully using.
This could be a problem for top-level employees, but, most likely, if you’re bottom of the barrel, it will be fine. Say that you’re unassertive in social situations, but you’ve learned to recognize when your input would be valued and speak up when the situation presents itself.
Most importantly, know that whatever skill you’re mentioning as a weakness, it shouldn’t be an essential part of your job. At the same time, the weakness you talk about should be strictly work-related. So don’t mention your fidelity issues and lacking upper body strength – no one needs to hear it. All the HR rep wants to hear is an obstacle you’ve struggled with, but overcame in the end.
Don’t treat the person interviewing you like they’re stupid, either. Pretty much everyone expects this question when going into an interview, and, at minimum, they’re checking if you’ve had the foresight to prepare an answer. If you froze up, your greatest weakness is that you came to a job interview unprepared.
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