Every single person has some weakness or the other. However, when it comes to the workplace or sitting for interviews, “What are your weaknesses” is a very common question that is asked.
The reason why this question is asked during interviews is to give the interviewer a chance to understand what YOU consider your weakness, how you think it will affect your performance, and how you can work on it to improve it.
Many people often try to answer this question smartly by saying, “I don’t have any weaknesses!” or even saying something like, “My biggest weakness is that I work too hard.” These answers are generally not acceptable and show a lack of honesty or even clarity in the interviewee.
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When it comes to answering this critical question, it is crucial, to be honest. Of course, you have a weakness; everyone does. But explaining this weakness in the right way is what the most important thing here is.
Here is everything you need to know about explaining your weakness in an interview.
1. Be Honest
You will make a better impression if you answer this question. Sincerely. Of course, that does not mean highlighting a weakness that might get you dismissed from the interview. Stating something like ‘‘I am a little lazy sometimes’’, or “I have trouble waking up in the morning and getting to work on time” is not something you should state here.
These weaknesses can actively hinder your performance at the company, and no hiring manager will decide to hire a ‘lazy’ or ‘unpunctual’ employee.
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2. Talk about a Weakness Which Is ‘Acceptable’ for the Job
If you are sitting for an interview for a position as an accountant, don’t state your weakness as ‘not being good with numbers.’ In the same way, if you are trying to work in public relations, you can’t say that your weakness is being shy or nervous around crowds. The hiring manager will automatically assume that you just aren’t fit for the job.
3. Speak about a Fixable Weakness, and How You Are Trying to Fix It
A good example is- In case you state that your weakness is not being about to speak confidently in large groups, or getting nervous during public speaking. While these are considered a weakness, it is also fixable. With time, experience and learned skills, you will get more and more confident about your public speaking skills.
When working in an office, it happens quite often that you need to present something in front of a group. These are opportunities for you to work on these weaknesses.
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Make sure that you also inform your hiring manager about what steps you are actively taking to overcome your weakness. Maybe you have signed up for classes to help you build your confidence, or you are actively trying to put yourself into more situations that require you to speak in large groups.
This will show your interviewer that you are aware of the weakness but also working on making it your strength.
4. Don’t Sound Negative or Defensive
Another important thing to remember when talking about your weakness is not to make it overly negative or speaking defensively. Of course, it is normal to feel defensive when you are speaking about something this personal, but you are trying to show your hiring manager that you are working on that weakness.
By sounding overly negative, you will give the impression that you have reached a dead-end, and cannot fix this weakness. Sounding defensive, on the other hand, will make it seem like you are uncomfortable with discussing it and don’t want to work on fixing it either.
Here are a few things that you should avoid when answering the question about weakness:
- Don’t try to turn a negative point into a positive one. A lot of candidates often try to put a spin into this answer by saying things like “I am too much of a perfectionist,” or “I work too hard,” or “I tend to care too much about my work life.”
- All of these answers will make it seem like you are trying to avoid the real question and show overconfidence. The hiring manager genuinely wants to assess your weakness for a reason- they are trying to employ you into the company. So answer the question authentically.
- Don’t try and avoid answering the question altogether. Avoidance will show pride, or even that you are disillusioned about yourself, which is not a good trait to have. Pick a weakness that you can work on improving.
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Why Is This Question so Important in an Interview?
The hiring manager has a reason behind any and every question that they are asking you during an interview. The question of ‘what is your biggest weakness’ or ‘what are your weaknesses’ is to assess how honest, critical and self-aware the candidate is.
The hiring manager is acutely aware of the fact that every single employee will have a weakness. They want to find out early on what this is, so they can assess whether it will be a hindrance to the company’s growth to hire this person or not.
No matter how confident you are throughout your entire interview process, this one question can shake up even the best of candidates. Freezing, refusing to answer, or simply giving a ‘smart’ answer is not going to get you to the next round.
The best way to answer this question is to state your weakness honestly and be genuine about your efforts to turn the weakness around into a strength.
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Some examples of ‘what is your weakness’ answers are:
- I think I am not very good at gauging how much time it will take me to complete a certain task or a project. This makes it difficult for me to delegate smaller and more extensive tasks effectively. However, I have been taking time management classes at (where you are doing it), and I am getting a better understanding of how to manage my tasks.
- I tend to get nervous during public speaking or presenting in large groups. I am attending seminars and meetings, which are teaching me presentation skills and encouraging me to speak out more.
These are some of the best ways you can answer this question and come out of the interview like a winner.