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How to answer: ‘What are your weaknesses?’

“What are your weakness?” In your next job interview, there is a high possibility the interviewer will ask you that exact question. Typically, an interview is where you are trying to impress someone to land a job, so why would you ever want to talk about your weaknesses? Unfortunately, it’s often just part of the process. When an interviewer asks you to talk about your weaknesses it not only is a question used for them to get to know you more, it also shows them how well you know yourself. This can be a tricky task, so when someone asks the dreaded question “what are your weaknesses?” here are our tips on the best answers to give.

Tip #1 – Reflect on your past work experiences to identify your weaknesses

The first thing you’ll need to do is identify a few of your weaknesses to prepare for a job interview. This can sometimes be tricky. A good place to start is by looking at your responsibilities and tasks and ask yourself a few questions such as:

  • Do I struggle with anything?
  • Did I need to ask for assistance or help?
  • Am I stressed about any task in particular?
  • Did I make any mistakes?
  • Does something take more time for me to do than others around me?

Tip #2 – Your answer should be in a work context, but not addressing the job requirements

As this question is asked in regards to a job position, your answer should be within a work context. With that being said, if you are applying for an accounting position and you discuss the fact your weaknesses involve poor maths skills, the interview isn’t going to go down well. If your weaknesses are skills that are required for the job, the job probably isn’t for you. Ideally, you don’t want to throw your chances completely out of the window. Therefore, address a weakness that is not critical for the role while later highlighting your strengths that are critical for the role.

Tip #3 – Answer the questions as positively as possible  

It important to be honest while highlighting your weaknesses, but also communicate it with a positive spin. The best way to do so is to keep it short and sweet. A great way to answer the question is to be concise. Show that you are prepared and self-aware. It is also ideal to provide an instance or example of your weakness, followed on by tip number 4.

Tip #4 – Finish answering the question with how you can improve

A good tip in answering this question is to finish with how you can improve. The great thing about self-reflection is that you can identify areas you can work on to become better, to learn and grow. Therefore, it is great to think of any programs or strategies that can help you improve on your weaknesses. Resources like phone apps can help as well as just simply practicing! For example, if you struggle with procrastinating, setting reminders and alarms can help you keep focused with the task at hand. Mentioning that you are working on improvements is a valuable thing to do.

Can’t think of any weaknesses? Pick one of these examples

If you really can’t decide on what to talk about if you’re asked what your weaknesses are, consider the list below and see if any resonate with you.

  • Maths skills, computer skills, public speaking, creativity, presentations
  • Perfection, organisation, patience, confrontation, procrastination
  • Delegating tasks, last minute tasks, leaving projects unfinished
  • Expressing too much, bottling things up, being too honest
  • Taking too much on, multitasking, providing unnecessary detail
  • Covering for others, doing others jobs, being too critical
  • Shyness, rambling on, being overly sensitive

Ultimately, how you respond to the question “what are your weaknesses?” could be the difference between you landing the job over somebody else. An ideal candidate can answer this question effectively by identifying their real weaknesses while not letting them affect or interfere with the responsibilities and duties of the job. It’s important to remember that this question is not the be all, end all as you will also discuss your strengths! For more job interview tips, check out our previous blog on the number one question guaranteed to be asked in your interview.

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