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How To Talk About Your Weaknesses At A Job Interview In 2022

Answer the most challenging interview questions and learn how to discuss your weaknesses with our guide.
by Rob Gillham | Aug 20 2022

Talking about our weaknesses at a job interview is one of the most challenging questions to answer during the employment screening process; with our guide, you can master this question and learn how to answer it like a pro. There’s nothing worse than being thrown a curve ball during a job interview.

However, you’ll have to keep at it and use this guide if you want to get the job you want. In order to find the perfect candidate, hiring managers tend to ask a series of tough questions to sort out the best candidates. One of the most difficult questions you can be asked in an interview is, “Can you tell us about your weaknesses?”

You may be tempted to answer this question by turning it into a positive. Common answers such as “I’m a perfectionist” or “I work too hard it makes others envy my ability” may sound like the perfect solution, but they only reveal your complete lack of self-awareness. 

Those are common answers to the question, and they’re all too obvious, but there are other options, too! Responses like, “I tend to work too hard,” or “I’m too perfect,” can be scripted at best and insincere at worst.

Conversely, you don’t want to respond with weaknesses that will prevent you from succeeding. For example, if you’re applying to be a data scientist, you wouldn’t want to admit that you’re not very good at staying focused.

Many ways to answer this question demonstrate your value as a candidate. Here are some of the best answers to your greatest weakness – and don’t worry, they aren’t idealistic. Here are the five best ways to respond to this question and make yourself look good. 

Pick A Weakness That Won’t Hold You Back. 

If an interviewer asks you, “What is your greatest weakness?” they want to know: How self-aware you are. Your ability to be open and honest, especially regarding shortcomings. Whether you seek self-improvement and growth opportunities to combat these weaknesses or if you let them define you. Your ultimate goal should demonstrate how you’ve used your weaknesses to learn new skills or grow professionally.

Your interviewer does not expect you to be perfect – everyone has weaknesses. One way to answer this question is by focussing on a fault that is irrelevant to the job you are applying for. For example, in a writing position without a high demand for math skills, you might want to admit that mathematics isn’t your strongest area of expertise but that you are working on it. In fact, you could mention that you have been taking online data analytics courses to address this weakness in order to improve your work.

This kind of answer shows the hiring manager that you recognize your areas for growth and can act on them without being directed. An individual with this kind of self-starter attitude is valuable to any team.

Don’t bend the truth. 

If you’re asked what your biggest weakness is, “perfectionism” won’t do because it’s not a real weakness. Perfectionism is impossible – it’s a fear-based pattern that leads to short-term rewards like completing tasks early and exceeding expectations. Over time, however, striving for perfection can lead to burnout, low-quality work, and missed deadlines. A company’s decreased productivity, turnover, and low employee engagement can all be attributed to burnout.

Choose a real weakness instead. There may be a weakness of trust lurking beneath the desire for excellent work. You may not trust that you can make mistakes on the team, so you strive to do everything perfectly. You can definitely overcome that weakness.

Describe how you have improved your weakness or learned a new skill to overcome it.

You won’t be able to overcome all your weak points overnight because hiring managers don’t expect you to do so. Everyone needs to maintain sharpness in certain areas. If you have dedicated six months to learning a language, you won’t be able to stop one day for good and keep your progress. Learning is an ongoing process.

Choose an example from your private life. 

Humanizing yourself in the interview will allow your interviewer to connect with you and envision working with you in the future. In addition to weaknesses that pertain to the job, there are other factors to consider. This is a relatable weakness if you are an introvert who dislikes taking risks because of your preference for quiet time. Self-improvement correlates with work performance when you demonstrate self-awareness in this way.

Consider where you want to go and what support you need.

Life is filled with growth. Consider people who have influenced you in the field in which you work, or your former colleagues. Take these people as an example and try to base your answer on their responses. You will demonstrate your awareness of your weakness by providing an example of how you are working on improving it, including:

When issues arise, you know how to identify and mitigate them.

As a team member, you can be an immediate resource by finding a solution to a problem you and others on the team face.

By taking feedback from others, you demonstrate self-awareness.

In most cases, you’ll need to look outside of yourself to overcome a weakness. Whether you seek help from your supervisor, or a mentor, seeking help demonstrates self-awareness and resourcefulness – two skills that are difficult to teach but extremely valuable. In addition, by utilizing your resources, you demonstrate to the interviewers that you are capable of solving problems when the answer is not yet clear. Every team needs someone with that kind of character.

If you have identified a weakness, describe a time when you asked someone for help. This way, the hiring team gets a clear picture of how you will work with them to balance that weakness.

Don’t show off. 

You should always exhibit confidence in your answer when answering the question, “What is your biggest weakness?” The best way to show that you can demonstrate your confidence in your answer is if you have identified a weakness. If you’re working hard to improve something you’re not good at, there’s no need to feel embarrassed about it. 

On the other hand, showing off and being arrogant in your answer is not the right way to go. Any hiring manager will be put off by somebody who twists their biggest weakness into a success story. Above all, be truthful. 

Learn which types of answers make hiring managers want to work with you before you express a genuine weakness during an interview. Below you will find two examples of people addressing their weaknesses in a job interview scenario. Take a look and see how you can adapt these answers to fit your own work experience and personality. 

Example answers to the question “what is your biggest weakness?” 

Example 1.

This question allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition. In what way? Demonstrate to the hiring manager that you are taking steps to upgrade yourself in the areas where you need to improve. Using this approach, here’s a sample answer:

“I used to procrastinate, and I’d end up working really long days as a deadline approached, even though I always met my deadlines. In order to resolve the issue, I took classes in project management and time management. By organizing my days and breaking down bigger projects into manageable chunks, I learned how to manage my time effectively. When I get a new assignment, I make a plan immediately, and I often meet my deadlines.”

Example 2. 

You can also use the requirements of the job to guide your answer. If you’re applying for a graphic designer position, but you’re not a strong writer. The job description does not mention content creation, emphasizing production design skills and software experience. As an example, you might answer this question in an interview about weaknesses:

One of my weaknesses is that I haven’t had much experience with content development. As a quick learner, I believe I could improve my writing skills if I ever needed to.” As an alternative, if you are applying for a position as a financial analyst and one of the job’s requirements is to submit regular reports to upper management, you shouldn’t emphasize that you have communication difficulties.

Every Weakness Is Also A Strength 

Every weakness has a strength behind it, no matter how bad you are at math or how little you speak up in group settings. It’s how you overcome it that makes you strong. Utilizing your teammates’ skills is a great way to demonstrate that you’ll work well on the team and know how to utilize your resources effectively. Likewise, professional development courses demonstrate your willingness to improve. Regardless of which answer you share with the hiring team, they will be happy to help you grow and exceed expectations.

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