Interviews are fraught with difficult questions, but the most difficult involve your weaknesses. Answering these is a delicate balancing act. You want to answer well enough to satisfy the interviewer, but also want to look your best. In this post, we explore this in depth and offer solutions for crafting the best answer possible.
No One Is Perfect
Everyone in the world has strengths and weaknesses. Your strengths and weaknesses make you an asset in your field — or a liability. By asking you this question, your interviewer wants to know two things:
- Are you self-aware enough to recognize where you need improvement?
- Do you have a weakness that may hinder your success in the role?
It’s easier describing your strengths than your weaknesses. After all, it’s always fun to “brag” about yourself — and likewise, never fun to admit your flaws. However, employers recognize that employees who think they don’t have room for improvement are difficult to train, manage, and work with. You need to be honest with yourself and your employer acknowledging that you do, in fact, have flaws.
Honesty Is Best
“My greatest weakness is that I’m a perfectionist.” How many people do you think have used that tired line? Turning a perceived strength into a “weakness” is a common tactic, but it’s not as clever a move as you think. Interviewers catch on quickly when candidates offer dishonest responses and are never impressed. Instead, make every attempt to answer honestly — but cautiously.
Red Flags to Avoid
Before crafting your answer, be aware of red flags that disqualify you from consideration:
- Never offer a weakness that automatically disqualifies you from the position. Study the position you’re applying for so you understand the skills required. If excellent time management is a required skill, don’t say that you always run late.
- Never imply or state weakness in your ability to develop skills. Interviewers want to understand that you can grow with the position and the company.
- Never say you have no weaknesses. This is the worst response to give in an interview, as it implies dishonesty.
How to Answer Well
When crafting your answer for this question, start by being brutally honest with yourself. What do you struggle with in your current position, and what have you struggled with in past work environments? Keep responses work-related, and do not include personal characteristics. Focus on what the interviewer seeks instead of giving them the idea that you will always have your weakness as a personality trait.
Once you have narrowed your list after crossing off red flags, consider what you have done to overcome those weaknesses. For example, if time management has been an issue for you in the past, use that as your answer, but follow that response with details explaining how you overcome it in a work setting.
Practice your answer until you are comfortable talking about it. Be prepared for the interviewer to ask you further questions about your chosen weakness. It may help to practice with a friend or with your recruiter.
If you are looking for an opportunity that will let your strengths speak for themselves, check out the opportunities available on our job boards, or make an appointment to talk with one of JDC Group’s recruitment specialists today.