“What’s your biggest weakness?” is one of the most difficult questions to answer truthfully and genuinely in a job interview. It’s one of the most anticipated interview questions; there’s a strong chance you’ll be asked about your weaknesses. Yet many people feel that it’s uncomfortable and near impossible to answer this question. Why is it so hard to talk about our weaknesses?
No one wants to readily highlight their flaws to a hiring manager. But there is another motive behind inquiring about weaknesses. What the hiring manager really wants is to gauge is whether you’re aware of your own work habits and tendencies that could use some improvement. They also want to see if you know how to take the initiative to address your weaknesses.
Instead of viewing this question as the one where you throw yourself under the bus in front of your potential employer, think of it as an opportunity to show both your maturity and desire to grow as an employee. The key is to state what you believe your “weakness” to be, and then immediately acknowledge that you know how to improve upon it, and that when given any opportunity, you take the necessary steps to correct it.
Below are some examples of common workplace “weaknesses,” and Resume Yeti’s Pro Tips on how to improve these answers if the question comes up in your interview.
Your Weakness: “Sometimes I have been late on assignments because I take on too many projects at once.”
Pro Tip: I’ve always been a great multi-tasker, but sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. There are occasions when I misjudge the amount of time I need to complete a project, and that can throw off my whole workflow. I am working on my time management, though. Once I realized that I could juggle multiple projects, I started building in buffer time to my schedule so that if anything should come up during the course of a project, I have ample time to address the issue and still complete the project in time for the deadline.
Your weakness: “I can be disorganized”
Pro Tip: As a creative person, it’s always been hard for me to stay organized. I’ve been working on my organizational skills by implementing color coding in my calendars and files as well as exhaustive To-Do lists. These strategies are successful because they play into my creativity, and I’ve found that the secret to staying organized is staying consistent.
Your weakness: “I’m bad at public speaking”
Pro Tip: I think to a certain extent, everyone struggles with speaking or giving a presentation in front of a room full of people. Public speaking has always been a skill I’d like to improve, and I know one of the best ways to do that is to engage in it more often. Another way to improve is to make sure that I know the material inside and out. Each time I’m assigned with a presentation or a task that involves public speaking, instead of worrying about the speaking aspect, I pour all my energy into making sure I have everything practiced and memorized. I feel with each presentation my public speaking skills improve.
Your weakness: “I’m a procrastinator”
Pro Tip: When I was a student, I used to procrastinate on assignments. After college, this habit carried over into my work life too. However, I realized very quickly that procrastination hindered my workflow and I figured out a system to budget my time accordingly so that each project could be finished not just on time, but before the deadline.
Your weakness: “I prefer to work on my own because when I work with a team, there are always problems with the project’s final outcome.”
Pro Tip: Delegating tasks on a collaborative project has always been difficult. Yet teamwork is such a crucial part of any workplace and any workflow. To make delegating various aspects of the project easier, I started making spreadsheets to visually divide up the workflow. This visual aid helps to envision the breakdown of responsibilities on the project and also helps avoid confusion if collaborators have questions about what their specific tasks are. It also leaves room to include extra tasks so that if anyone finishes their section earlier than the other collaborators, they will know the next item on the agenda to push the project workflow forward.
Your weakness: “I’m a perfectionist”
Pro Tip: I strive to ensure that every detail on a given project is as close to perfect as I can make it. I know that perfectionism often comes at a price; to agonize over each small detail of a project can also put the project behind schedule because of the extra time it takes to go over everything multiple times. As I’ve grown as an employee, I’ve worked out a system so that I’m nearly satisfied with details the first time around, so I only must check once more before submitting the project to be sure that it’s perfect.
Out of these examples, the most important common element is that none of these explanations of a “weakness” are negative. The trick is to express a skill that you’ve been working on or you need to work on in the future, and explain how you plan to go about doing that.
Remember, the best way to have a successful job interview is to practice and prepare for any questions you anticipate. Make a list of questions you think you’ll be asked, and practice answering them in front of the mirror or with a friend. Another great resource is to check www.glassdoor.com/ and see if anyone has listed the interview questions they were asked at the company you’ll be interviewing for.