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How to answer 'what are your weaknesses?' in an interview

CareerBuilder | May 18, 2022

What are your weaknesses

It may be annoying to talk about your weaknesses during an interview, but you can spin these traits into something positive, which can help you secure the job.

One of the most dreaded questions during an interview is "What are your weaknesses?" Usually, you want to focus on your positive attributes, not the negative ones, which is why people find this question annoying. While the employer usually asks about your talents, you should come prepared to talk about your weaknesses. Employers discuss your negative qualities to see how self-aware you are. They may also ask this to see how well you can turn a negative into a positive. Let's take a look at how you can answer this question, including some examples you can use as a model.

Why do employers ask about weaknesses?

During an interview, employers ask about your weaknesses to learn more about your personality. Even though you want to talk about your strengths, the interviewer learns a lot about you by discussing your weaknesses. Talking about your weaknesses shows that you're self-aware. Hiring managers might be more willing to hire someone who can recognize their faults. While you talk about your weaknesses, you can also make them into positives. Despite any of your weaknesses, you can show how you're a great candidate.

Tips for answering interview questions about your weaknesses

When talking about your weaknesses in an interview, so many people use the same, boring answer of "I'm a perfectionist." Here are some tips to help you think of a fresh and improved way to answer this question:

Be honest.

One of the most important things to remember when answering this question is to be honest. Everyone has weaknesses, and it's normal to accept your faults. Answering honestly can help employers trust you. Employers like to hire reliable candidates, so it's often better to talk about your faults honestly. Be your authentic self while answering this question.

Use positivity.

Once you think of a weakness, try to use positivity to turn it into a strength. One of the main reasons why employers ask about your faults is to see how you're improving yourself. That's why it's important to put a positive spin on your weakness. For example, if your weakness is that you're too harsh on yourself, you can say that it's because you want to work on self-improvement. You can also explain how you're trying to correct this by saying you've worked on recognizing your accomplishments.

Be relevant.

When you talk about your weaknesses, try to be relevant. This means that you only discuss faults that relate to the job you're applying to. If you're applying for a teaching position, weaknesses about other jobs you've had, such as sales positions, won't be relevant. However, you can use universal weaknesses that apply to most positions. For example, you can talk about how you lack confidence or that you sometimes have issues collaborating with others. No matter what you choose to talk about, try to relate it to the position you're applying to.

Make it specific.

Try to make your answer clear and specific. Being clear helps the interviewer understand exactly what you mean. You don't want them to confuse them with your answer. Using specific answers also makes your weakness seem well thought-out. Try using examples to make your answer specific. If you're not very organized, explain how your office is messy and provide some examples of how you're trying to fix it.

Example responses for 'what are your weaknesses?'

Here are some example responses that you can use in an interview:

I don't have enough confidence.

Not having enough confidence is a common weakness that shows you don't have a lot of experience. It's okay to admit this to the interviewer because it shows you're aware of the issue and that you're trying to improve it. You can make this weakness into a strength by explaining how you're humble, which is a positive trait. However, most employers like to hire candidates who have some confidence. So explain how you're working on growing your confidence and recognizing your strengths.

I have a hard time asking for help.

It's important to ask for help because it shows that you're willing to ask questions when needed. While being independent is a good quality, being able to ask for help shows that you're a team player. In fact, both qualities are excellent to include on a CareerBuilder profile. To make this weakness a positive, describe why it's useful to ask for help. Then, provide a few examples of how you've tried to work on this weakness. Maybe talk about a time when you asked a question, and it benefited you.

It's difficult for me to say 'no'.

While it's nice to lend a helping hand, it's just as important to say "no" sometimes. Being able to say "no" shows that you recognize your boundaries. If you have several approaching deadlines and someone asks you to do another job, it might be more helpful to say "no." If you have a hard time saying "no," you might overload yourself. To make this a positive, explain how you like helping your co-workers, but it's difficult for you to deny them. Next, explain what steps you've taken to finish your own tasks before taking more work.

Being able to talk about your weaknesses shows how you're a strong candidate. Employers rarely expect you to only have strengths. It takes professional growth and character to admit that you have some faults as well. Talking about your weaknesses is also a good way to talk about improving yourself. Try to be authentic when discussing your weaknesses in an interview by following the provided tips.


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