3 Simple Steps to Answering “What is Your Greatest Weakness?” (with Examples)

what is your greatest weakness

Weakness Best Answer

“Describe your biggest weakness.”

This is one of the most dreaded moments in any interview and where many job applicants stumble their way through trying to find an answer.

If you are job hunting and interviewing, you should expect to be asked some version of this question every single time.

In other words, there is no reason to be unprepared. 

With our useful tips and tricks for how to explain what your biggest weakness is, you will be able to handle this common interview question with ease.


So, what are my greatest weaknesses?

Ideally, your answer will impress upon your future employer and hiring managers that you are confident and poised without seeming to boast or display an overinflated ego.

The “right” answer to this question is one that is:

  • Honest
  • Succinct
  • Demonstrates growth

We will walk you through crafting the perfect what is your weakness best answer below with career advice to win over the interviewer.


How to Answer “What Are My Weaknesses” in a Job Interview

Step 1: Make It Honest

While it may seem counterintuitive to focus on weaknesses in a job interview, this is a good way to let honesty and forthrightness shine.

The hiring manager knows you are not perfect (and neither are they!), so this is your chance to reflect on your greatest weakness and address it head-on in a meaningful way with the interviewer. 

If you have trouble thinking of a weakness, start by asking someone who is brutally honest with you, be it a sibling, a former boss, or a neighbor who has become a trusted confidant.

Their answers might surprise you, and if you remain open to constructive feedback, this could be incredibly beneficial in your interview preparation. 

 

Another idea if you are stuck is to try jotting down, off the top of your head, a list of your best and worst attributes.

Perhaps “impatient” is the first negative word that comes to mind, which could easily be identified as a weakness.

In that example, you would want to come up with a scenario where you demonstrated patience (i.e., growth!).

 

While honesty is important, there are levels of honesty to consider here:

“I cheated on my partner in college, and then the next person I dated cheated on me, so I learned a great deal from that big dose of karma.”

Save that one for happy hour with friends. 

You want to keep your examples a bit more serious and professional, though struggles are not off the table, so to speak. 

For example, you might describe how a reluctance to meet new people was stunting your growth both personally and professionally, so in the past year, you stepped out of your comfort zone and into a ballroom dancing class as well as a networking group for young professionals.


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Step 2: Make It Succinct

Once you have determined the weakness you plan to address, consider how you can discuss it both thoroughly and succinctly.

You want to demonstrate:

  1. A concrete example of the weakness playing out in your professional life
  2. How the weakness held you back or created an obstacle
  3. What you did to overcome it (with detailed results)

You want to avoid rambling on and on about the weakness to the point that the discussion becomes too centered around something negative. Instead, keep steering toward the positive outcome.

Try writing your answer down and reading it aloud, or better yet, practice by describing your biggest weakness to a friend or family member.

Be careful that you do not over-rehearse, though. You want the delivery in the interview to feel natural and not forced. 

It is okay if you go “off script” a bit as long as you work your way back to the positive outcome (how you overcame that weakness).

 

Step 3: Show a Demonstration of Growth

The critical component of your “what is your weakness best answer” is the demonstration of growth.

Imagine this scenario:

  • The hiring manager is looking for someone who works well in team environments.
  • The job applicant describes her weakness as “losing patience with team members who did not carry their weight” in her previous job.
  • This is not a new phenomenon. As long as the “group project” has existed, there have been participants carrying the burden of the workload for others.

What might set this candidate apart would be a demonstration of growth such as follows:

“When I realized that friction was growing among the team because some members were doing more than their fair share of the work, I approached my manager with a suggestion for a new task distribution model. We implemented my model with great success, and it is still used for team projects at that company today.”  


3 Weaknesses Job Interview Examples

Here are a few examples of the best weaknesses to mention in an interview:

  • Trouble Asking for Help
    • “I enjoy taking on projects myself making it difficult to ask for help when it’s needed. But, over the years I have learned that asking questions often benefits my work – especially when I don’t fully understand something.”
  • Get Impatient When Projects Run Close to the Deadline
    • “My work style is to complete a task or project as soon as possible. So, when other priorities get thrown into the mix and deadlines are getting close, I tend to get impatient. While this impatience has helped me complete a number of projects on time, I’ve also learned that doing something right and pushing it when needed, isn’t always a bad thing.”
  • Focus Too Much on the Details
    • “I’m a firm believer that every little detail in a project is important. Unfortunately, that belief tends to slow up different projects I’m tasked with due to the time and effort I put into them. Over the last few years I have learned that it’s often better to complete the project at hand at an earlier date than dragging out every little detail and prolonging that finish date.”

Recruiters need about 90 seconds to determine whether they would hire a candidate.

— The Undercover Recruiter

Wrapping Up | What Are My Weaknesses 

When answering the question, “What are my weaknesses?”, try to concentrate on your strengths (without sounding like you don’t have any weaknesses). 

To recap our four steps:

  1. Be honest
  2. Explain thoroughly
  3. Show you are learning

Describing your weaknesses can end up being a point of strength in an interview, as long as you do it honestly, succinctly, and with a demonstration that you have grown through them.

Highlight how you have made improvement and how you have learned from mistakes. Hiring managers love candidates who continue to push themselves and grow in their career.

We hope this helps – best of luck in your next job interview!


Title: How to Answer “What Are My Weaknesses” in a Job Interview

Category: Job Interview

Tags: How to answer “What are my weaknesses” in a job interview, what are my weaknesses job interview question, weaknesses to say in a job interview, what are your weaknesses examples, what are your 5 weaknesses, strengths and weaknesses list, what are my weaknesses, what are my weaknesses example answers, how to answer what are your weaknesses

Co-Author: Reid is a contributor for theJub. He’s an employment and marketing enthusiast who studied business before taking on various recruiting, management, and marketing roles. More from the author. | Author Profile


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