Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
What areas do you find you struggle in?
Are there any aspects of the role that you find more difficult than others?
What 3 things are you bad at?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
This is a very popular question in an interview. I have found that it doesn’t matter what job you are going for or what stage of your career you are in, this question can appear at any time.
Which is unfortunate (for us as job seekers) because it is such a tricky question to gauge what it is exactly the interviewer is looking for by asking this question.
The interviewer could be looking for one of two things:
- Are you the type of person who is capable of introspection to find weaknesses. Are you also the type of person who – when they identify weaknesses in themselves – takes steps toward improving in these areas.
- Actual, genuine areas of weakness. The interviewer might have genuine interest in your areas of weakness. It could be that they require people strong in X and you saying that it is your weakness will rule you out.
We are not mind readers so it is hard for us to know what exactly the interviewer is looking for, but a good rule of thumb would be if the job you are looking to apply for is in a career based position where you would be expected to grow and mature as a professional with the organisation then strong bet the interviewer is looking for number 1 above.
On the other hand if you are applying for a contract position or a limited time position where you are being tasked with coming in and performing X function and then leaving the organisation, then you can safely assume they are looking for number 2 above. You should keep this in mind when formulating your answer.
The best approach to answering this question
This is not a “Tell me about a time” question, or a skill question. It is an opinion based question. The interviewer wants to hear your thoughts around your strengths/weaknesses to understand if you would make a good fit to their organisation.
With that in mind the best approach to this question is to be honest…but not too honest. Tell the interviewer your weaknesses…within reason.
No-one is great at everything and even if you are there will be some areas that you are greater in than others. The others are your weaknesses.
The best answers will approach this question by giving a frank assessment of your weakness AND discussing what steps you are taking (or will take) to overcome this weakness and become a better worker.
Talk about your weakness and how it impacts your life and work, but then detail the steps that you are taking to overcome this weakness. Try to make your answer about a weakness that can be improved and isn’t purely subjective (e.g. “I can’t use X system” vs “I don’t get on well with people”).
How NOT to answer this question
Don’t say you have no weaknesses. For a starter it is just plain not true, everyone has weaknesses. Further it will not endear you to the interviewer, they will think you are cocky and arrogant. Or even worse it shows that you are naïve and failed to prepare for the interview.
Don’t give a false weakness that is actually a strength. “Oh my biggest weakness is that I work too hard, *wink*”. Come off it. The interviewer is smarter than that. They are asking the question to see if you can determine your own weaknesses. If you truly work too hard then talk about how you have a problem setting boundaries with colleagues and saying NO to additional responsibilities outside your job role.
Don’t share a massive weakness. This question is really tricky, because you want to give a weakness and show how you are overcoming it, but at the same time you don’t want that weakness to actually cost you the job. Keep your weaknesses small but relatable, i.e. don’t say you can’t use Microsoft Office when applying for an office job (plus also learn how to use Word!)
What are your weaknesses? – Example Answers
Weakness Example Answer 1
“I have never worked with <insert tool or software> before and I see that it plays an integral role in your organisation. I have worked with <insert other tool> before and from what I hear it lacks a number of features present in <tool>. I look forward to the opportunity to use this new tool as I hear great things about it, I have also found a crash course online that I would look to take to get up to speed as quickly as possible…should I be offered the job”
Weakness Example Answer 2
“My memory is my biggest weakness. Quite frankly it sucks. I will be told something in the morning and will have completely forgotten having had the conversation by the afternoon. It held me back a lot in school were it seemed like a lot of exam preparation was just cramming as much info into your head as possible prior to an exam. I have found a good system though that works for me. I write lots of notes and set myself lots of reminders. I am not sure if you can see since we’re on video but I have been taking notes throughout this meeting as well!”
Weakness Example Answer 3
“I think my biggest weakness is my potential to get distracted. I’ve found that when I have just one task on my plate that I procrastinate a lot and it often ends up either incomplete or rushed and not finished satisfactorily. I have had good success recently with this by ensuring that I always have multiple tasks on the go at once. That way I can procrastinate on one by completing the other. It is not a perfect solution so I also perform exercises designed to improve focus and concentration at home.”
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