“Tell me about your weaknesses”.
This prickly interview question always puts you on the spot, right?
Well, it's your lucky day…
...because it's not going to catch you out anymore!
Just follow these simple yet effective steps and you'll discover how easy it is to give a convincing answer.
Let's get started!
Let's start from the most important point:
How to give a great reply to a question about your weak points.
Try this simple two-step strategy:
- Admit a real weakness
- Explain what you are doing to overcome it and improve
Be careful though!
Not just any weakness will do: you need to know how to pick the right one.
Not sure how?
Don't worry, let's see how it's done.
3 Things About Professional Weaknesses That You Need to Know
Choosing the right weaknesses is the key to framing your answer effectively.
The best weaknesses of a person (a jobseeker) have three things in common:
- They are real
- They are work-related
- The are unrelated to the main skills listed in the job offer
Let's have a closer look…
#1 – How to Survive Your Weaknesses in a Job Interview
Be honest by all means, but don't be too candid:
If you are too honest you may lose any chance of landing the job.
So be authentic but don't forget to use a bit of common sense.
Avoid talking about a random weakness just because you think it sounds good: an interview is a tough situation as it is without you trying to fake your way through it!
Like all of us, you have more than one weakness and with a bit of careful thought you'll choose the one that's right for the job interview.
Let's move on to the second point…..
#2 – Use Your Weaknesses to Your Advantage: Avoid This Mistake
Don't lose sight of the overall context:
You are in a job interview so the weak point you mention must be work-related.
Think about it:
If you did talk about these weaknesses, what might the interviewer think?
- At best, the interviewer will think you did not understand the question and will ask you about another work-related weakness - so you'd be back to square one
- At worst, the interviewer will think you are trying to avoid the question and will ask you about another work-related weakness - so yet again you'd be back to square one
So don't let yourself be asked this dreaded question twice!
And now that's clear, let's move on to the last point…
#3 – (Strengths and) Weaknesses: The Key to Success
Carefully re-read the job advertisement:
First, make a list of the skills that are expressly required for that position.
Then list any other qualities you think are important to help you get that job - on the basis of the job position and what you know of the company's culture.
Now you have a useful starting point for your application that you can use in two ways:
- To exclude any of your own weaknesses that are relevant to the list of required skills you have just compiled
- To check which of your strengths match those listed in the job offer - this will be useful when you are asked about your strengths - but also to write your CV!
As you will have understood by now, you really don't want to mention having a weakness that happens to be fundamental to the job profile.
No doubt about it:
This would knock you out of the running - who would hire a salesperson who confesses to being shy and lacking in confidence?
To sum up:
Pick a real, work-related weakness that is not fundamental to your future employers.
And if you need some inspiration, read our list of 50+ examples of strengths and weaknesses for job interviews.
So now you know how to pick the weakness:
You are ready to move on to step 2 of the strategy…
The Secret to Turning Your Weaknesses into Positives
You have just named your greatest weakness - you have just answered one of the most frequently asked questions of a job interview.
Without passing out at the question 😉
You haven't finished yet, there's still a missing part of your answer to think about.
The second part of your answer has to mitigate the “damaging effects” of your weakness.
Let's look at it in details!
There are three important points to get across in your answer to the question about your weaknesses:
- You are self-aware enough to know you're not perfect.
- None of your weaknesses would hinder your ability to do the job successfully.
- Far from being a passive victim of circumstance, you are dedicated to constant self-improvement.
You demonstrate the first point simply by giving an answer.
The second by being careful which weakness you choose to “confess”.
The third point is what will make your answer really effective: your commitment.
This is the key point:
Talk about how you became aware of your weakness and of the steps you have taken (and are still taking) to improve upon it.
Show that you know how to take the initiative and that you are constantly striving to improve…
...show them that they will have nothing to regret if they decide to hire you.
Now it's your turn
Even if the strategy is simple, it still takes time to be able to follow it and give a convincing answer without sounding over-rehearsed.
What you need is a bit of training.
So practise giving your answer but don't spend too much time over it - get out there and look for your next job opportunity!