What is your greatest weakness? Uhhhhh. No one warned you a job interview would be a soul-searching confessional. Do you share that you’re a great procrastinator? That won’t sound good. That you love chocolate a little too much? Too vacuous (unless the job is in a bakery). What is the point of this question, anyway?
Seemingly invasive questions can be tough. If you haven’t planned for them beforehand, you might quickly learn your antiperspirant doesn’t fight wetness as well as promised. Don’t freak out! There are ways to answer that enhance your interview — not blow it. And you don’t even have to bare your soul. Too much.
Tell the truth
“I get frustrated when my work isn’t perfect.” “I always want to be the best.” “I work too hard.” Biggest weakness answers like this are pretty vague and, honestly, hard to believe. What do “perfect” and “the best” even mean? Instead of trying to sound like you are the ideal employee, explain that you’ll be one who recognizes personal flaws. The key is turning them into strengths.
“I’m perpetually late, but I’ve made a goal to leave 10 minutes earlier than I think I should. It’s been a challenge, but I’ve seen how better prepared I am when I’m on time.” A real weakness is something you can fix, not an unattainable ideal.
Don’t be arrogant
Talking about a weakness can be humbling. No one wants to look bad, especially in the eyes of a future employer. Instead of worrying about how you’ll appear, focus on how you are growing.
This is an excellent opportunity to talk about how you sought help, perhaps from a team member. “My former coworker knew every employee by name — all 112 of them. That’s something that’s always been a weakness for me, so I asked him how he did it. Since then … ”
An interviewer will see two things. First, you recognized a skill you lacked. Second, you’re resourceful: You sought help from someone who could teach you. The desire to improve yourself — and learn from teammates — is valuable to any business.
Use your head
If you’re looking for a job as a salesperson, maybe don’t say you’re uncomfortable talking to new people. Bad at keeping up with your bills? Not the weakness to point out if you’re applying to be a bookkeeper. Talk about one that won’t directly affect your success in this particular role. Because you probably have more than one weakness, right?
What the interviewer is really asking is if you are self-aware. Your answer should acknowledge a shortcoming, but one you are working to conquer. For example, you want to be a software developer, and your weakness is that you are easily distracted. Talk about how you have started making small daily goals that you are excited to work toward.
Answers to what is your greatest weakness could also focus on job skills. Perhaps there is something you feel you should know more about. For instance, you don’t feel comfortable using PowerPoint, or your Excel skills are rudimentary. Talk about how you recognize that you are lacking in a particular area, so you are now taking a class or completing online tutorials to learn more. Again, this demonstrates that you are self-aware and are willing to develop new abilities.
No matter your weakness, turn your answer into a strength. Do this by honestly acknowledging a shortcoming. But more importantly, focus on how you are working to grow as a person and employee.
Find more tips for getting hired on our KSL Jobs Resources page.