How To Answer "What Is Your Greatest Weakness?" in a Job Interview

What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
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Talking about things that are not necessarily positive about oneself is never an easy topic, especially when you have to disclose them to a potential employer. After all, the purpose of an interview is for you to awe the hiring manager in order to get them to employ you. So, when the dreaded "Tell me about your weaknesses" interview question comes up, under-prepared candidates will likely be caught off guard and blow the interview.

How am I supposed to impress and make them like me if I reveal my flaws? Wouldn't that lower my chance to get hired?

Not definitively.

Although it could sound like a self-sabotaging move (if done poorly), having good proper answers about your weaknesses for a job interview might actually put you ahead of the other candidates. Mind you, there are no right or wrong answers. However, there's such a thing as good weaknesses to say in an interview. And no, it's not only perfectionism.

Through this article, we'll show you why interviewers ask "What is your weakness" interview question, how to answer "What are your weaknesses" in an interview, tips on providing good weaknesses for a job interview answers, as well as"What are your weaknesses" interview answer examples for different situations.

But first, let's take a look at the many forms of how interviewers ask about weaknesses for a job interview to a candidate:

  • Could you tell me about your weakness?
  • What do you consider to be your weaknesses?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What is your weakness and how do you overcome it?
  • What is your biggest weakness?

Why Interviewers Ask “What Is Your Weakness”

Interviewers know that speaking about your weakness in an interview is not an easy task. When they ask you, "What is your weakness and how do you overcome it?", they want to know how you carry yourself when answering a tough question. But more than that, your future employers have 3 other objectives by questioning your weakness in a job interview.

💭 They want to know how well you understand yourself.

It takes courage to acknowledge your weaknesses, and it takes some self-awareness practice to be able to do so. Thus, when the hiring manager says, "Tell me about your weaknesses", they wish to see if you are a mindful individual who owns up to their imperfections.

💭 They wonder whether you have taken any action to improve.

Once you've accepted those flaws, they want to know what you have personally done to become better. That's how these “weakness” interview answers show your future employer if you're the type of person who takes initiative and is willing to strive for growth.

💭 They would like to see if you are able to turn your weaknesses into strengths.

There's always more than one way to perceive things, and it also applies to your weaknesses. The best answers for your weakness interview question are those that can simultaneously illustrate how that weakness has helped or benefited you in your day-to-day life, not just seen as something that prevents you from success.

How to Answer “What Are Your Weaknesses”

There are several approaches on how to answer what is your biggest weakness question in a job interview. But, let us walk you through the general technique on how to answer what are your weaknesses in an interview. And, no, the answer is not "I'm a perfectionist".

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to give the best answer for speaking about your weakness:

✨ Look back on your professional experience. 

Reflection plays a big part in getting an answer to the "what is your weakness" interview question. Reflecting on your previous journey will allow you to develop and review your skills to see what worked and what didn't. If you are a fresh graduate with little to no work experience, don't think you don't have any weaknesses to say in an interview. Stretch the timeline to your student life.

✨ Choose a weakness that hindered your success in previous roles.

Then, list down the struggles you went through and why you were unsuccessful to resolve the problems smoothly. Chances are, you would know what to say about your weakness in an interview in this step.

✨ Focus on talking about the positive sides of the particular weakness.

Now that you have figured out what weaknesses to say in an interview, find the good side of those weaknesses to say in an interview. Start digging on how those shortcomings are not entirely unfavorable. As mentioned, there are always positive and negative sides to everything.

✨ Provide an action plan.

Give a concrete example of what you have done or are currently working on to improve your weaknesses. The best answer for responding to “What is your weakness?” is to show the interviewer that you are actively striving for growth.

✨ Share what you've learned throughout the process.

Ultimately, overcoming weaknesses is a journey and there ought to be failed attempts. After giving examples of how you improve your weaknesses for a job interview, you can also share new things that you learned during the course of your development.

If you are wondering what is a good weakness to say in your job interview, the answer is, it depends on the role that you're applying to. Every weakness mentioned in an interview answer can be perceived as a good weakness for a job interview as long as you know how to frame it well.

Tips for Answering “What Is Your Weakness”

Since the "what is your weakness" question in a job interview is considered one of the most basic interview questions and it could possibly make or break you, there are some things that should be kept in mind. Here are some tips for your preparation to answer your biggest weakness in an interview question:

💡 Be honest.

A common misconception is that we should only talk about “weaknesses” that can also be a “strength”, such as being a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist is not always going to pass as a good weakness for a job interview answer. Perfectionism is not attainable, and the interviewer knows that. Choose a genuine weakness. Out of all the interview questions, you wouldn't want to seem insincere when disclosing your weaknesses for a job interview.

💡 Show that you’ve given thought to it.

Tailor an authentic narrative when answering about your weakness for an interview question according to your circumstances and based on your experience. Sincerity and genuineness will also get through and be acknowledged by the recruiters.

💡 Focus on the positive and avoid negative words.

If you don't know what is a good way to answer about your weakness, try to stay away from adjectives and verbs that have negative implications as much as possible.

💡 Highlight your improvement.

Don't go overboard talking about your weakness in a job interview. Divert and redirect your response effortlessly to emphasize your achievements or accomplishments instead.

💡 Avoid weaknesses that are specific to the role requirements.

You don't want to seem inadequate. Thus, the weaknesses you mention for a job interview shouldn't directly disqualify you for the role. Pick something else that is a little less relevant to the position.

“What Is Your Weakness” Sample Answers

To give you an idea (or several) on what is your greatest weakness answer looks like, here's a list of answer examples of weaknesses for a job interview

I rely too much on routine.

This would be an example answer for "What is your greatest weakness" for teacher interviews. Set schedules are fine and it brings a lot of benefits. Reliance on routine can promote discipline. However, at times, spontaneity is needed to shake things up and let your creativity flow. Although following procedures is an important aspect of being a teacher, being able to read the classroom and bring forward impromptu activities from time to time is also crucial.

You can say this:

"My greatest weakness is that I rely too much on routine and I don't improvise enough in the classroom. I am very good at following through the syllabus on time, sometimes even completing it earlier than the timeline. However, I had noticed that some of my previous students would lose interest halfway through. Since then, I have been introducing some impromptu activities that involve more peer interaction in class, or sometimes outside class, to keep students interested."

Being too chatty.

This would be a sample answer for “What do you consider to be your weakness?” during a call center interview. It's undeniable that one of the most crucial skills to excel as a call center service provider is being adept at communication. You have to be pleasant to talk to. But being overly talkative will only impede your work. You might find that you fall short of your weekly target and thus make it one of your weaknesses.

You can say this:

"I consider being too chatty is my weakness. I enjoy building positive relationships with customers by engaging in conversations. I will be highly invested in understanding their needs and talking with them. But, I have a tendency to carry the conversation way too long. I have been practicing self-control and mindfulness to keep the conversation brief but still helpful for the customers."

I am too nitpicky.

Here’s a sample answer for nurses when asked “What is your weakness?”. Imagine all the patient information and laboratory samples you need to file. Being detail-oriented is a necessary skill when one is a nurse, but when done excessively, it can make your workflow less efficient. And in order to keep up with the chaotic scene in the hospital or clinic is being quick on their feet.

You can say this:

"My weakness is that I focus too much on tiny details. Working as a nurse, I have to be extra precise with everything, from filling in patient information, assigning medicine, to drawing blood. Hence, I spent too much time making sure everything is done precisely and accurately. However, I've been striving to improve by allowing myself to recheck my work 2 times the most, and then move on to my next assignment."

I'm not yet familiar with [a skill].

This is a great answer for “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, especially for freshers. Everyone (including the experts) has areas that they can improve upon their experience, especially as a fresh graduate with no work experience. This response suggests that you're lacking a specific skill, but at the same time implies that you have some knowledge in it.

You can say this:

"As a chemical engineering graduate, I'm well-rounded at thermodynamics laboratory skills and analyzing the data. However, I must say my weakness is I'm still unfamiliar with operating the Thermo-Calc software. Since my 3rd year of college, I have been joining study groups where my classmates and I help each other out on the topics that we need to improve on."

I would get impatient when working with a team.

This is one of the best answers for your weakness about lacking patience. Self-sufficient people tend to prefer working by themselves and not rely on others to complete their work. If the role you are pursuing doesn't require or has minimum teamwork needs, and in addition, you are someone who prefers independent work, this could be your go-to weakness example.

You can say this:

"I'm incredibly independent and self-sufficient, and I do my best work alone. With that said, my weakness is I can get impatient when working with a team, especially when I have to wait for someone else to complete something first before I can begin my work. Since last year I have been participating in team-building workshops in and outside the office to improve my teamwork skill."

I can be disorganized.

If you consider yourself lacking organization skill, this is a good “What is your weakness?” answer sample. It's not uncommon to have messy desktops and desks, many people do. But disorganization can lead to reduced productivity if not taken care of. This is a good weakness example for an interview because being organized is something anyone can practice.

You can say this:

"I struggle to keep things organized. Regardless that it hasn't interfered with my performance, often I would find myself spending too much time looking for something and it affected my efficiency. Currently, I schedule one day a month to organize my digital space and my desk space to keep everything neat. It has been working well so far."

I am not very well-versed in speaking in front of people.

If you would like to talk about your fear of public speaking as one of your biggest weaknesses during a job interview, this would be an example of a good answer. Not everyone is born with the skill to speak in front of a crowd. While some roles don't require you to be good at public speaking, it is considered one of the essential skills to have as a professional regardless of your industry. Lacking public speaking skills might hinder you from presenting your ideas.

You can say this:

"I get really nervous when I have to speak in front of a crowd. Although my previous job didn't have much public speaking to do, I still think it's an important skill. To get rid of my fear of speaking in front of many people, I have been joining a Toast Master's class for 4 months. Now, I feel more comfortable speaking during meetings."

I am very critical of myself and the work that I produce.

This is what you want to say when talking about weaknesses in an interview about harsh self-criticism. The desire to always give your best is totally normal, but it can get ugly and unhealthy real fast if you can't recognize your limit. Not being able to draw your boundaries (even with yourself) is one form of weakness that you can elaborate on in your interview answer.

You can say this:

"I'd say my biggest weakness is being too hard on myself. I take pride in my work and I want to produce high-quality work. So I would always think that I could've done more or better. It left me being prone to stress and feeling burnout. I've turned to meditation and yoga to train my self-awareness and mindfulness. Whenever I feel that I'm at the brink of crossing my inner critic line, I would exercise mindfulness."

I have a hard time saying "no" to people.

This answer is about your weakness in not being able to say ‘no’. Helping colleagues and still being able to maintain your work pace is a balance, one that is not so easy to achieve. While helping others is a noble gesture, not being able to say "no" can lead you to trouble--not finishing your own work on time and feeling stressed out.

You can say this:

"My weakness is that I have a hard time saying "no" to people and it results in me having too much on my plate more than I can handle. In the past, it has made me feel overwhelmed and exhausted a lot. Therefore, now, when my colleagues need help with something, I would first confirm with them on how much they need help with. If I find my own work is still quite a lot, I would let them know I could only help partially."

Sometimes I lack confidence.

If you want to highlight lack of confidence when thinking about how to answer “What is your greatest weakness?”, this probably is a great example. A very common weakness, especially amongst freshers. While it is a common weakness, lacking in confidence might prevent you from thriving at what you do. If you choose this as a weakness to say in an interview, be sure to also mention how you have displayed confidence.

You can say this:

"I wouldn't actively contribute to meetings because sometimes I still feel a little bit shy and lacking in confidence. However, I have been implementing a new method where I document the impact I have made on my team and my small achievements to remind me that I have what it takes to thrive and why I should be more confident in my abilities. Through that practice, I am now more comfortable and confident in sharing my ideas with others."

Once you know all the tricks, answering the dreadful question about your weakness in an interview is not super difficult, is it?

You can use the above list of "what is your greatest weakness" answer samples as guidance to reflect and prepare your own answer for your job interview. Check out our article on general interview questions and answers to complete your preparation, and don't forget to learn about the questions you should ask the interviewer.

Good luck with your interview!

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--- Originally written by Teresa Edria ---

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