What Are Your Weaknesses? How To Answer This Tricky Interview Question

All but the most virgin of interviewees know that when preparing for a job interviewthat there are a collection of typical job interview questions that will almost for sure be asked in your interview. And because you want to do well and get the job, you should have some idea how you are going to answer these questions before your interview begins. It’s about planning and thinking ahead.

One of these typical questions that you’ll probably be asked is: “What are your weaknesses?” This can be a tricky question to answer and can take you off guard if you’re not prepared. Who wants to blab on about their faults to a potential employer and the person making the hiring decision? Won’t it just make you look bad?

Well, because you are probably going to have to answer this question whether you like it or not, here is how I recommend you go about it.

First off, do some brainstorming

In being truly 100% honest with yourself, ask yourself: what ARE your weaknesses? Spend a bit of time brainstorming some ideas and if you’re the “list type” (I’m not), even go ahead and write them down if it makes you feel better.

This step is just between you and yourself though. It’s NOT about beating yourself up, picking yourself apart or trashing yourself. It’s just about the first step in trying to answer the interview question. Remember that we all have our weaknesses and faults, even those who appear to be perfect (they’re not).

Examples of relevant weaknesses

  • shy
  • workaholic
  • procrastinator
  • disorganized
  • not good with Microsoft Office (or any other specific, relevant skill)

In order to not damage your self-esteem, try to keep the list relatively short and manageable, let’s say about 5 weaknesses. Try to keep them related to what may actually be relevant to the job you’re interviewing for, too. For example, if you can’t stick to a diet or have no luck in the dating world, do not use these as they’re not the kind of thing your interviewer is looking for.

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There are two approaches. Choose one.

You may have heard the recommendation many will tell that when asked what your weaknesses are, to actually state one of your positive qualities and try to disguise it as a negative thing. This is approach #1 and one that I don’t particularly like.

A typical example of this approach would be to say that you’re a perfectionist and can be really hard on yourself. Now c’mon, to me, most employers are going to view this as a positive thing so in effect you cheated the question by answering this way.

My opinion is that when asked for a weakness, you should give an honest to goodness true weakness of yourself, not a positive one disguised as a negative. This is approach #2 and I think of it as a more honest approach. Many employers will appreciate your honesty in answering the question truly and for real with none of the nonsense from approach #1.

More on the honest approach

The key here with the honest approach is to yes, choose a real weakness of yours and yes, make it relevant but if you can, talk about one of your more minor weakneses. Everyone is going to realistically have more than one weaknesses that they could in theory talk about but it doesn’t mean that you have to choose your worst trait.

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It’s common sense, but…

“Honesty is the best policy.” – Unknown

Depending on the job, you might choose to talk about how you’re a bit on the shy side, for example, but that you’re very easy to get along with and once you get to know your co-workers, the shyness goes away. This is what I generally use for an answer in my interviews. Yes, be honest and state one of your real weaknesses but make sure to still put a positive spin on it like I did in this example.

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