Job Interview Question & Answer: What Are Your Weaknesses?

Ultimate Interview Video Guide – What are your Weaknesses?
President of Job-Applications.com, Doug Crawford, coaches a user through the answering process, and we provide additional feedback and analysis on the popular interview question involving recognizing one’s weaknesses.

Video Transcript:

Narrator: Welcome to the Job-Applciations.com ultimate guide to interviewing. In today’s video, we will cover how to answer: “What are your weaknesses?”

Narrator: We asked this question at a mock interview, and here is one of the responses we heard:

Participant: I think my weaknesses are feeling a bit overwhelmed talking in front of large groups of people, and I’ve worked at that for quite a while. And in previous experiences, I’ve gotten to where I just lock up entirely, but I’ve gotten better at being able to do that.

Narrator: Overall, this is a good response. He touches on the two elements necessary to answering this question effectively. He recognizes a legitimate weakness and shows that he is taking steps to improve upon that weakness. Employers understand that no employee is perfect, and they want to hear a relevant weakness. Responses like, “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too hard” are non-answers that employers hear all the time. Interviewers don’t focus on the weakness you choose. They want to hear that you identify your weakness and you are working to improve yourself. Let’s watch this answer again.

[Participant response]

Narrator: We might suggest some minor improvements, like answering with more confidence and not illustrating the full extent of the weakness, like when he mentions that he has locked up entirely. Aside from that, this is a great response, and we recommend that you offer something similar. Just remember to recognize a legitimate weakness, and show that you are taking steps to improve upon it.

Handling The Dreaded Weakness Question

“What are your weaknesses?” stands as one of the most challenging questions interviewers typically ask of applicants. Employers want to see how candidates honestly assess shortcomings and describe steps toward improvement. The difficulty in answering mainly lies in remaining candid with interviewers while keeping overall impressions positive. Take care when replying to the question, as drawing too much attention to a significant weakness may hurt chances for hire. Though some job search professionals express reservations about the merits of asking weakness questions, candidates still need to prepare responses to potential inquiries on the subject, as the line of questioning proves commonly encountered when interviewing for work.

Responses to Avoid
In the past, the generally accepted method for replying to weakness questions stood as referring to a trait which could constitute either a shortcoming or a strength. Describing a personality trait, such as acting like a perfectionist, regularly proved a token reply on the subject. However, employers today largely do not consider such a response believable and often view the answer as contrived and false. Avoid the tactic of directly attempting to portray a weakness as a strength. Interviewers typically do not want to hire candidates unable to admit or acknowledge any personal flaws.

Nobody’s Perfect: Be Honest
When employers ask about weaknesses, a straight answer chiefly remains the best course of action. Honestly explain a personal weakness and the effects the shortcoming causes. Determining what constitutes a weakness for each individual often proves difficult, as the process requires objective self-reflection. Assess personal strengths and weaknesses prior to interviews to keep appropriate answers ready. Though replying candidly about weaknesses remains the encouraged method for applicants, putting responses in the correct context and outlining tangible steps taken toward progress in said areas remains crucial to giving interviewers the best possible impressions.

Frame Answers in Terms of Steps to Improvement
Replying with a true weakness does not necessarily paint candidates in a negative light. Properly framing responses involves describing actions taken to overcome setbacks. For example: if candidates struggled with meeting deadlines in the past, responses about starting projects earlier and implementing time management strategies show positive steps to become better workers. In addition, always select a weakness and strength relevant to the work at hand. Giving an unrelated answer misuses valuable interview time and may constitute inappropriate information to provide for employers. Keep answers honest, focused, and concise for the strongest results when replying to questions about personal weaknesses.

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2 thoughts on “Job Interview Question & Answer: What Are Your Weaknesses?

  1. alana

    Make your weakness a positive. For example… “I’m shy at first, but this allows me to actually get to know people before I trust them.” I used this for an mock interview by a local news channel representive and they made note of that at the end saying it was a good response. The interveiwer also added that people make their responses to this question all negative.

    Reply
  2. Bethany

    I am a perfectionist, which sometimes can be a weakness.

    Reply

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