Interview Question

What is Your Greatest Weakness?

The weakness interview question and how to answer it.

The weakness question is one of the trickiest job interview questions that you will face on your job search. It is essential to respond carefully. You don't want to convince your interviewer that you can't do the job. On the other hand, you don’t want to come off as dishonest for claiming you don't have any weaknesses.

Why do companies ask you a question about weaknesses? First, the hiring manager is monitoring your self-awareness. Do you just do the job like a runaway train? Or do you reflect on your work? Second, he wants to see how honest you are. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses. Do you own your limitations or sweep them under the rug? Finally, the company wants to see the steps you are taking to improve. Even if you have some deficiency, are you actively seeking ways to get better? Can you turn your weaknesses into strengths? The ideal candidate honestly reflects on their work and has a plan to continue growing.

Answer

How to Answer

Name Skills that Are Not Crucial to the Job

You never want to raise red flags that you are not capable of doing the job. Therefore, naming a non-essential skill is one way to answer this question.

First, before going into your interview, review the job requirements. Identify the skills and personality traits necessary for the job. Avoid saying these skills in your answer.

Let's look at a sample customer service position:
Manage incoming calls and customer service inquiries
Identify and assess customers' needs to ensure satisfaction
Handle customer complaints and provide appropriate solutions or alternatives
Keep records of customer interactions
Follow company guidelines on communication and resolution procedures

A few critical skills may be:
Clear and honest communication
Empathetic listening skills
Product and procedural knowledge
Detail-oriented and diligent note-taking

It is vital that you pick a weakness that is not critical for this job. For example, for a one-on-one customer service position, you may say that your greatest weakness is public speaking. You do not perform well in front of large audiences. This is something a company can work with because this is not a job requirement. These non-essential skills don’t necessarily make you less of a suitable candidate.

Mention Skills that You Have Already Improved On

Spouting off your greatest strengths is easy. Interviewers want to know your limitations. Then, they want to know what action you took to address them.

You want to be an asset, rather than a liability. When talking about weaknesses, show how committed you are to self-improvement.

Talk about any extra training or classes you took to help you improve. Mention any workshops that you took for continued education. These courses can be company-sponsored or something you did on your time. Identify the tools or techniques you use to better yourself.

Finally, after you've taken these steps, did you notice an improvement? Did a supervisor also see a change? Were there any clear results from your training?

For example, you may say, "At my previous job, we dealt a lot with customer complaints. We also built strong customer relationships to make more sales. However, sometimes I felt limited with my knowledge about the product.

I took an online course to learn about the digital marketing industry. Now, when I meet with the product teams, we have more productive discussions. I understand when they explain the product updates. I can also clearly explain how we can improve our products based on customer feedback."

Turn Your Weakness into Your Strength

This technique shows how a weakness is a strength in disguise. Turn a negative into a positive. However, make sure to mention that you know how this characteristic impacts your work.

For example, a new graduate may say that some people may consider his lack of experience as a weakness. However, because he is a fast learner with no bias, he is highly motivated to do the job correctly and efficiently.

Remember that your answer should always highlight the positive qualities that make you an ideal candidate. Be ready to pick a few different weaknesses to talk about. That job offer is for someone who is honest but constructive.

Sample Answers

Here are some sample answers you can use to frame your own response:

  • ““My biggest weakness is that I am a perfectionist. I am highly attentive to details. Sometimes I end up checking my work several times for accuracy and proper presentation. However, I know that this sometimes interferes with productivity.
  • I have learned better time management by prioritizing tasks and making a schedule. This technique helps keep my team on track, and we always meet deadlines."
  • "In my previous job, we used older software on the computers. It got the job done but has not always been the most efficient. Technology has advanced so much, and even the new Microsoft suite has improved in recent years.
  • To keep up with technology, I took 100 hours of training in the newer Microsoft Office products. I was able to show my supervisor these new software features and help the company make the change to newer technology."
  • "My greatest weakness is that I am an independent worker. I prefer to do things myself instead of delegating work to others. I realized that I was spending a lot of time doing tasks that others were perfectly capable of doing. I was not working well as part of a team.
  • I began using the Wrike project management tool. I was then able to structure my team's projects, assign tasks and receive task status updates. By communicating with my team and visually seeing our progress, we were completing projects faster and meeting deadlines."

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