Job Interview Question and Answer: What Are Your Weaknesses?
Why Do Interviewers Want to Know Your Weaknesses?
Hiring managers ask, “What are your weaknesses?” to see if you are honest, self-aware, and able to adapt in areas that may be difficult for you. They want you to acknowledge your shortcomings and discuss your progress in overcoming situations that you have struggled with in the past.
Elements of a Good Response
There are two steps to giving a strong reply when an interviewer asks about your weaknesses:
- Step 1- Recognize a Legitimate Weakness: Identify a personal trait or issue that has been difficult for you to overcome in the past. Make sure this weakness is relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Step 2- Discuss Plans for Improvement: Talk about the methods you use to overcome your weaknesses and discuss how those skills will make you a better employee.
Answers to Avoid
When responding to the question, “What is your greatest weakness?” steer clear of the following types of answers:
- Vague Non-Answers: Statements like, “I’m a perfectionist,” or “I work too hard” are common stock responses that show a lack of forethought about the question.
- Cocky Answers: Saying, “I can’t think of any weaknesses” makes it seem like you are dodging the question. It can also make the interviewer think that you have a smug attitude and are unwilling to reflect on your shortcomings.
- Self-Sabotaging Answers: Answers that highlight your inability to do a necessary task for the job can disqualify you from the hiring process. Avoid bringing up weaknesses that affect your ability to perform essential duties.
Use the following sample responses as a reference for answering the question, “What are your weakest skills?” Be sure to use your own attributes and experiences to shape your answer rather than copying these examples word-for-word.
Sample Answer 1- Cashier at a Clothing Store
“I used to get nervous when talking in public, which made it difficult for me to connect with other people. To overcome this, I took a few courses at my school that helped me practice public speaking and taught me techniques to relax and feel more comfortable talking to others. Now I have an easier time connecting with people one-on-one or in a group setting.”
Sample Answer 2- Delivery Driver at a Shipping Company
“I’m a very independent person, so I sometimes struggle with working as part of a team. As a result, I tend to seek self-guided jobs like truck driving or other tasks that I can complete on my own. However, I have started to step outside my comfort zone and take on more group work to learn how to work with others and help me grow as an employee.”
Sample Answer 3- Cook at a Fast Food Restaurant
“I sometimes struggle with confidence and tend to doubt my skills from time to time. So I started making a daily list of all the good things I accomplished, as well as any positive feedback I received from coworkers and managers. This list helps me focus on the good things I bring to the table, rather than obsessing over the small mistakes I sometimes make.
Key Points to Remember
Interviewers who ask, ‘What are your weaknesses?” care more about your ability to overcome your struggles than they do about self-criticism. Describing real-life weaknesses that affect you and explaining how you are trying to conquer them will show potential employers that you are willing to work through your weaknesses to become a successful employee.