How to address the interview question ‘What are your Weaknesses’?

What’s your greatest weakness? Most people have difficulty answering this interview question and, while it’s meant to be challenging, there’s no reason to feel uneasy or nervous about answering it. It’s a hiring manager’s way of assessing your reaction to an unnerving situation, as well as identifying your shortcomings.

The question may be asked in different forms – for example: ‘Are there any particular areas in which you need to improve?’ The important thing to remember when answering this question is to be honest, but not in a way that could damage your job prospects.

Tips on how to answer this question effectively

  • First, make a list of three to four areas that you think need improvement or you don’t like doing. You can identify examples from your work history or education.
  • Write down three reasons why you think each of these is a weakness or an area that needs development
  • Outline three examples of how you have worked to overcome these weaknesses. Did you complete a training course? Did you ask for advice from a colleague or get support from another source?

When describing your weaknesses, pick ones that are not too vital to the role you have applied for. You might want to highlight technical weaknesses, rather than something personal. For example, you might say “I’ve had some difficulty using Microsoft Excel, but I’m undergoing training to improve my skills.” Your weaknesses should be manageable and not overly negative.

Tips on how NOT to answer this question

  • Never answer this question by saying “I don’t have any weaknesses”
  • Do not bring up personal flaws that are unrelated to work
  • Avoid being too candid and confessing to a weakness that could have a negative impact on your job prospects

Answering this question effectively shows that you are aware of your weaknesses and are willing to work on them. It points out your objectivity and commitment to personal development. Essentially, what you need to show is that despite your weaknesses, hiring you will prove to be beneficial to the employer.

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