What Are Your Weaknesses? 1

This question is a challenging one, but it’s critical to be prepared for it because it’s asked so frequently. No one is perfect, and the interviewer wants to see if you’re able to give a forthright and insightful assessment of your weaker points. Your answer has the potential to enhance your esteem with the hiring manager by conveying a commitment to ongoing self-improvement.

At the same time, your response demonstrates your ability to put your weaknesses into perspective. In your interview and in your work, too much emphasis on deficits can interfere with your ability to perform at your best.

Points to Emphasize

Here are several strategies and suggestions that can help you avoid being tripped up by this tricky question:

  • Give an honest accounting of a few key areas where you know you could improve.

  • Explain the steps you’re already taking to make those improvements.

  • Select points that won’t make it difficult for you to do this job.

    • Show that you’re always seeking ways to improve yourself.

    Your answer to this question can have a big impact on your overall impression, so be sure to prepare for it.

    Mistakes You Should Avoid

    The bad news is, this is a question that many interviewees struggle with. The good news is, missteps are somewhat predictable and therefore avoidable.

  • Don’t be disingenuous. Trying to dodge the question by disguising a strength as a weakness or refusing to answer can leave an interviewer wondering what you have to hide.

  • Stay away from weaknesses that would hamper your ability to perform effectively.

  • Avoid weaknesses that are very difficult to manage or change.

    • Don’t go into too much detail.

    Stay concise and focused and maintain a positive tone, even when discussing your less desirable traits, and you’ll get through this question just fine.

    Sample Answer

    Here’s an example of a response that addresses the question honestly with a positive, forward-thinking tone:

    One weakness I have is public speaking. No matter how many times I get up in front of an audience, I feel nervous beforehand. To compensate for this, I make sure I’m completely prepared before any presentations or speeches. I use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing to help me stay centered and relaxed. Although this is a challenge I continue to work on, I don’t let it interfere with my ability to be effective.

    Remember that your interviewer’s role is to select the strongest candidate. Make sure your answer sets you apart in a positive way and avoids giving the interviewer any reason not to hire you.

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