Talking About Your Weaknesses in a Job Interview

You know the topic will come up in almost every job interview.  Weaknesses can be one of the most stressful things for a candidate to address.  Are you too hard on yourself? Or do have trouble identifying your weaknesses? The weakness question is a presumably innocent one, but has the possibility to expose shortcomings if not answered carefully.  There is no right answer, but hiring managers are looking for some specifics in your response.  They are basically looking to find out how a candidate faces obstacles with this question.  With some planning, job candidates can neutralize this query and even use it to their advantage.  With that in mind, set aside some time to go through these planning steps:

Why Weakness Questions Matter

Hiring managers ask about weaknesses to learn more about your self-awareness, confidence, and integrity. Your preparation will show, even if you are a bit nervous. Pay attention to how the question is asked and the response you receive. This information helps you to learn about a prospective employer.

  • Did the interviewer make notes after you responded?
  • Listen for an affirmative comment or non-verbal sign approving your response.
  • These seemingly small actions offer you insights about personnel interactions and performance expectations.

Select Weakness Scenarios to Discuss

Choose a couple of scenarios to use when you are asked about weaknesses. Use these tips as a guide:

  • Weakness or limitations come in a couple of varieties:
    • Personality traits or style, like being shy, or too loud.
    • Habits and abilities, such as procrastinating or having writing challenges.
  • Select those identified by past supervisors and coworkers.
    • These are relevant as they are associated with work.
    • Go with any you have heard about more often.
  • Make notes including steps you have taken to improve.
    • Be concrete.
    • Acknowledge help you received from others.
  • Pay attention to the outcomes of your improvement actions.
    • Recall what worked.
    • Describe what you’ll do differently in the future.
    • Discussing these points reveals your self-awareness and critical thinking skills.
  • Include strengths in your reply as these aid in overcoming limitations.

Practice Your Weaknesses Reply

Chances are you are friends with a trusted professional who wants you to land the right job. Ask this person to do a mock interview with you, focusing on the challenging question about weakness.

  • Be sure not to know the question beforehand.
  • Request tips from your trusted friend.

For more job interview tips, check out Interview Etiquette: During Your Job Interview