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How to Honestly Answer the Dreaded Interview Question, “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”

05 / 14 / 19 | Candidates

You’re likely familiar with the classic “what is your greatest weakness?” job interview question. Humbly bragging about yourself is hard enough. But coming up with a way to talk about your weaknesses without scaring the employer away is even more difficult.

Employers want an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses when they ask this question. And you want to be completely honest about some of the things you struggle with. It’s important not to conceal something that could seriously hinder your job performance, but you can present your weaknesses in a way that tells the interviewer they are redeemable. Consider some of the following tips when going for an interview.

1. Mention a Job-Related Weakness, Not a Character Flaw

Think about the purpose of the interview. The interviewer wants to know if you have the skills to do the job, what you can bring to the company, and if you work well with others.

You might think an answer like, “Well, I’m a bit of a workaholic (or a perfectionist),” will highlight your dedication, but the interviewer may see it as a sign of an obsessive or compulsive personality, or someone who can be difficult to work with.

Instead, think about the required skills. Where are you weak? How will you improve? There’s your answer.

If you have done an honest self-assessment and feel none of your weaknesses are detrimental to the position you are interviewing for, try listing a weakness unrelated to or not crucial for the job. If you’re interviewing for a writing position, for example, you may suggest you’re not great at public speaking. Since speaking isn’t vital for you to succeed at the job, the interviewer won’t immediately discount you from the position.

2. List a Hard Skill You Need to Improve On

Nobody is an expert on everything, so it’s pretty ridiculous to imply that you don’t have any weaknesses. One way to approach this question is to pick a hard skill that you haven’t quite mastered but would like to.

Hard skills are things like math, a foreign language, or spelling. These skills can be learned and are likely not as much of a red flag to a future employer. Again, it’s best to mention a hard skill that isn’t highly important for the gig. But say something about how you will improve.

3. Include Solutions for Strengthening Your Weakness

While a future employer really wants to know your areas of weakness, they’ll think more highly of you if you explain what you’re actively doing to make this weakness a strength. Once you’ve mentioned your weakness, tell the interviewer how you’re working to improve in this area.

Get More Interview Tips

If you’re looking for more help with an upcoming job interview, check out Atlas Staffing. Our team shares tons of tips and information to help you succeed in your next interview. And after you kill it on the dreaded weakness question, check out our blog on how to negotiate a job offer like a pro!