What Are Your Weaknesses? The 5 Best Interview Answers
It’s finally happening – you’ve impressed the employer of your dream job and have made it to the final stages of the hiring process. All that’s left is to win them over once and for all at the face-to-face interview.
For it to be a success, a candidate must prepare well. This means taking the time to research the company and prepare answers for the tough interview questions – the most gruelling of all being ‘what are your weaknesses?’.
Almost every employer will ask this question. And while you shouldn't say something like ‘I don’t have any weaknesses’ as that will suggest you lack self-awareness and sincerity, you also don’t want to talk yourself down and give the impression you aren’t capable of succeeding in the role. Finding the right balance in your answer can be hard, but it's not impossible.
How To Craft The Perfect Answer To ‘What Are Your Weaknesses?’
When an employer asks about weaknesses, what they’re really asking is if you possess a healthy level of self-awareness, and a willingness to learn and grow as a professional. They don’t expect perfection; they want to see if you can recognise your shortcomings, and how resourceful and proactive you are in overcoming them. Below are some ways you can clearly demonstrate this in your answer.
Choose a weakness that won’t stop you from succeeding in the role. It goes without saying, the skills listed in the job description should not be used as your weaknesses. For example, if you’re applying to be a graphic designer, don’t say creativity, communication or tech skills are something you need to work on. Instead, you might say you sometimes get too caught up on small details, as this isn’t specifically linked to the duties of the role. Remember, you’re trying to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job, and saying you need to improve on an essential skill will cause them to question your ability to perform well in your new role.
Explain how you can work on your weaknesses. Don’t just describe your struggles, explain how you plan to work on them. For example, could you ask your supervisor for extra training, or find a colleague who can teach you about new software you’re unsure of? Is there an online course you can complete, or a qualification that you can gain? This demonstrates that you’re self-aware enough to see where you need to grow as a professional and that you will use your resources at work to do so.
Provide an example of how you have overcome a weakness. If you can’t think of anything you currently struggle with, talk about a task or skill you once found difficult. Go back to the early stages of your career. Maybe you didn’t understand how to interpret a sales analysis report, or how to code data. Go into detail about how you overcame this weakness, and the confidence it gave you to tackle new challenges. This shows the employer that you’re a highly adaptable worker who can learn new skills quickly and effectively.
Don’t be arrogant or underestimate yourself. It's important to show confidence in how you talk about your weaknesses. Be optimistic when you’re explaining what you need to work on. This will give the assurance to the employer that your struggles aren’t a negative quality and that you’re constantly working to improve them.
Be honest. ‘Fake it till you make it' doesn’t always apply in an interview, particularly when answering this question. It will be hard to sound genuine if you’re describing something that you don’t truly find difficult. If you need some inspiration, look through old performance reviews and self-assessments, or even think about what you struggle with in your personal life. It doesn’t always have to pertain to the job. For example, are you an introvert who tends to stay away from taking risks? Discuss how you're working on this by putting yourself outside your comfort zone more often.
5 Best Answers For The Question, ‘What Are Your Weaknesses?'
Lack of hands-on experience
This a great thing to say if you’re a recent graduate or applying for a job in a completely different industry. You’re clearly demonstrating that you’re aware of the fact you have minimal experience, but can also dive into other skills you have gained that are transferable to the job you’re applying for.
It's common for first-time managers to worry about not meeting the deadline and lack the confidence to assign duties to others. If you have experience managing a team and struggled with delegation in the beginning, you could explain why and what you did to change this. Did you implement a project management tool that allowed you to easily oversee the progress of all the tasks? An answer like this is great if you’re applying for a leadership role.
Struggling to say no
You might think that saying no is a weakness, but taking on too much can cause the quality of your work to fall. If you’re guilty of this, explain what you are doing to change it. Have you started prioritising your tasks? Are you questioning yourself more before saying yes to another project? Have you started to reach out to fellow colleagues for help when you can’t take on any more work?
If your role doesn’t require public speaking, mentioning this as a weakness shows that you have the desire to meet more business needs than necessary. For example, taking a course on public speaking might help build the confidence you need to express your opinion during a team meeting. This is an admirable trait that will show employers you’re willing to take the extra step to excel in the role.
Maintaining a work-life balance
While it might sound like a strength, putting work before everything else is unhealthy and will eventually lead to burnout. If you’re someone who suffers from this, talk about the things you’ve done to help gain a better balance. For example, have you started to structure your day into time blocks to ensure you finish at a reasonable time? An answer like this not only shows that you have recognised your tendency to let work overwhelm you, but have also been proactive and taken steps to overcome it.
Knowing your weakness shows your strength!
Just like many other interview questions, ‘what are your weaknesses?’ can be challenging to answer. But if you take the time to prepare, it provides the opportunity to show your potential employer that you’re aware of when you make mistakes, that you can pick yourself up and carry on when you fail, and that you’re willing to learn and grow as a professional.
Be confident about your weaknesses, and explain the steps you are taking to improve them. It will show your resilience and capability as an employee to overcome hardship in a new role, and that’s a strength every employer is looking for!
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