Answering the question “What is your greatest weakness?” at a job interview is challenging because it requires you to portray your best self. There isn’t a single interview question that feels more like a trap.
If you’re overly forthright, you risk frightening the recruiting manager and jeopardizing your chances of landing the job. However, if you aren’t completely honest, you will lose credibility.
The first thing to remember is why the question is being posed in the first place—and it isn’t to trip you up. Instead, it’s a test to determine if you’re self-aware enough to spot a fault and then self-motivated enough to correct it. Today’s criticism of your flaws will be tomorrow’s critique of a crucial team project that isn’t coming together.
Answering this question can be a fantastic way to show how you’ve conquered a hurdle in the past—or how you’re now working to overcome one.
After all, everyone has areas where they could improve, but if you can explain how you’ve addressed yours, you’ll come across as powerful, capable, and in charge of your professional growth.
You’re thinking, “OK, that’s fantastic,” but what do I actually say? To assist you, I’ve compiled a list of the most typical, hackneyed, and phony-sounding “worst flaws,” as well as some suggestions for what to say instead.
Why Do Interviewers Inquire About Your Weaknesses?
Truth is, most employers know that focusing only on your strengths won’t give them a full picture of your personality.
Aside from your accomplishments and what you can do, they want to know what you cannot do. And how you react to this matters a lot in an interview.
Some other reasons you can be asked this question might include:
They want to know your Self-awareness level
You don’t have to be an expert in every field. But do you know what you’re good at and what you should hire someone to help you with? This level of self-awareness is essential for a seamless transition into any new profession or team.
Are you Honest?
This is another reason you might be asked this question in an interview. The hiring manager wants to know that you can admit to your flaws while still performing well at work.
They want to know how serious you’re about moving up in your career
You don’t have to make all of your flaws into assets. Are you, on the other hand, learning and working to avoid letting that flaw hold you back in your career? When it comes to hiring, employers want to know that.
Your Red flags.
Hiring managers might want to see whether you’ll share any facts that can cast doubt on your suitability for the job and the organization. Why? Because one of the most costly decisions a company can make is to hire a new employee.
Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make When Answering “What Is Your Biggest Weakness?”
Most applicants make two major mistakes when answering the question “What is Your Biggest Weakness.” The funny part of it is that they do it intentionally without knowing it’s a trap. These mistakes include:
- Trying to play up a skill because they think the company needs the skill.
- Being too honest about an actual weakness.
Trying to Play up a Skill
While the concept of turning a “weakness” into a strength is admirable, this is not the method to go about it. Employers frequently see right through people who choose this path, and it comes across as arrogant and unprofessional.
Here are a few instances of terrible answers that fall within this category:
Wrong Answer 1:
The fact that I work too much is without a doubt my greatest flaw. My last supervisor had to enact a rule requiring me to leave the office by 7 p.m. since I was frequently remaining until 9 p.m. But I did earn an award for having the greatest sale-through rate, so it wasn’t all for naught, right?
Wrong Answer 2:
Biting off more than I can chew is definitely my biggest flaw. I enjoy learning new things, assisting my coworkers, and being in the midst of innovation. I usually pick up on my job quickly, which leads to my taking on a lot of extra stretch tasks. My bandwidth feels like it’s at capacity, but there’s always room for more!
Exaggerating A Flaw
Let’s move on to the next typical blunder made by candidates: oversharing.
If you’re interviewing for a sales job and the thought of talking to strangers concerns you, you might not want to tell your interviewers. Sure, that’s a flaw, but exposing it will almost certainly eliminate you from consideration for the position.
Here are two examples of people being a touch too honest in their responses:
Wrong Answer 1:
My biggest flaw is that if I’m forced to speak with someone I don’t know, I freeze up. To be honest, I was afraid when I came in the door and sat down with you today – but you’ve been wonderful, thank you – but yes, I was trembling earlier. I just don’t feel at ease in those settings, and I become rather uncomfortable. But I’m working on it.
Wrong Answer 2:
Procrastination is perhaps my biggest flaw. In school and in my prior employment, I was never excellent at planning ahead and would often put things off until the last minute. I only missed a few deadlines, though, because I’m fairly good at cramming things in at the last minute. I believe there is research.
How To Answer “What is Your Biggest Weakness?” in an Interview
Now let’s take a look at some examples of the best weaknesses to mention when answering the question in an interview. Remember, how you answer the question matters a lot because it will reveal to the interviewer how well you know yourself and whether or not you are a suitable fit for the position.
It will also make the interviewer know that you understand that no one is perfect and that you’re prepared to work hard to develop and thrive.
Below are some of the examples of the best weaknesses to mention in an interview:
#1. I obsess over the smallest minutiae.
Being detail-oriented is usually a positive trait, but if you spend too much time on the details of a project, it could be viewed as a flaw. By admitting that you obsess over details, you’re demonstrating to your interviewer that you’re capable of assisting the company in avoiding even tiny errors.
Make sure to show how, by looking at the big picture, you’re improving in this area. While having an employee who is focused on the finer things may not appeal to employers, a candidate who ensures quality and works for balance can be a valuable asset.
Answer: “My greatest flaw is that I occasionally focus too much on the specifics of a project and spend too much time examining the finer points,” for example. I’ve been trying to get better at this by checking in with myself at regular intervals and allowing myself to refocus on the broader picture. That way, I can maintain quality without jeopardizing my productivity or the team’s ability to fulfill the deadline.”
#2. I find it difficult to let go of a task
When you’ve put a lot of time and effort into something, it’s natural to be hesitant about completing it or handing it on to another team. There’s always space for improvement, and some people have a tendency to over-criticize their own work or make last-minute alterations, putting the deadline at risk.
Last-minute reviews, on the other hand, can help eliminate faults and result in a more refined final product.
If this is a weakness of yours, explain how you’re working to overcome it by setting a deadline for all revisions and being proactive about adjustments rather than waiting until the last minute.
Answer: “My greatest flaw is that I have a hard time letting go of a project at times.” I’m the worst critic of myself. I’m always looking for ways to better or change things. I set revision deadlines for myself to assist me to develop in this area. This ensures that I don’t change anything at the last minute.”
#3. I have a hard time saying “no.”
It’s a delicate balancing act to assist coworkers on projects while managing your own responsibilities. Someone who accepts all demands appears dedicated and eager to an employer, but can also be someone who doesn’t recognize their boundaries and needs support or deadline extensions to do their work.
If you can’t seem to say “no” to new initiatives, talk about how you’re trying to better self-manage by organizing your tasks and having more reasonable goals for yourself and others.
Answer: “My worst flaw is that I have a hard time saying no to requests and often take on more than I can handle. This has made me feel worried or burned out in the past. I use a project management tool to help me better in this area since it allows me to see how much work I have at any given time and whether I have the capacity to take on more.”
#4. When projects take longer than expected, I become irritated
While exhibiting outward worry or annoyance over missed deadlines may be seen as a weakness, companies respect employees who value deadlines and strive to complete projects on time.
If you’re utilizing this as a job interview weakness, center your response on how you value timely work and how you’re improving your ability to help improve systems to get work done more effectively.
#5. I struggle with self-assurance at times.
A prevalent flaw, especially among entry-level contributors, is a lack of confidence. In some cases, a lack of confidence might lead to inefficiencies in your work. For example, you may feel unqualified to speak up at a crucial meeting when your suggestion could aid the team in achieving a common goal.
While being humble when working with others might be beneficial, you must also keep a certain level of confidence in order to perform at your best.
If this is the flaw you want to highlight in your interview, talk about why you value confidence, how you recognize the value you provide, and how you’ve practiced expressing confidence in the workplace.
Answer: “In the past, I’ve struggled with self-assurance. To better understand why I should be confident in the skills and unique talents I bring to the table, I’ve kept a running record of the influence I’ve had on my team and at my business.
I’ve also made it a point to speak up during meetings when I believe my ideas and opinions are relevant and will bring value to the discussion. As a result, my concept for a new financing approach was adopted by our team, resulting in a 10% reduction in the time it took to plan our yearly budget.”
#6. I have a hard time asking for help.
When you lack experience in a certain field, as well as when you are burned out or unable to handle your job, asking for assistance is a critical ability. Knowing when and how to ask for help demonstrates high self-awareness and assists the organization by preventing inefficiency. While a strong work ethic and independence are desirable attributes, the company should know when to seek assistance.
Explain why you know it is useful and how you have worked to improve this skill if you know it has been difficult in the past.
Answer: “It has been difficult for me to ask for help when I need it because I am independent and enjoy working swiftly. When I don’t understand anything or am feeling worn out by my workload, I’ve discovered that reaching out is much more helpful for both me and the company.
I also recognize that many professionals in my immediate vicinity possess specific knowledge and abilities that can help me improve my work. While I’m still working on it, I’ve been able to generate higher-quality work as a result of the assistance I’ve received.”
#7. Working with certain personalities has been challenging for me.
Even the most adaptable individuals may find it difficult to work with others who have particular qualities or personality traits. Good cooperation abilities also imply a thorough understanding of how you collaborate with others and how you can improve your approach to better serve the organization.
If this has previously been a weakness of yours, explain the personality types with which you have had difficulty working and swiftly identify the reasons why. Then talk about how you’ve changed your communication or work approach to better collaborate on a common goal.
“In the past, I’ve found it difficult to work with people who have aggressive personalities.” While I recognize that a diverse workforce is beneficial to a company’s success, I find myself suppressing my own thoughts and opinions when working with louder coworkers.
To address this, I’ve made it a point to spend more time with coworkers with whom I don’t feel comfortable. I am better able to collaborate with these personality types by understanding more about them, their communication style, and their goals so that we can both share our talents and skills equally.”
The above-mentioned examples are answers you can give when the question “What is your biggest weakness is thrown at you? “.
Additionally, you can check out the list of weakness topics I have listed below to answer the dreaded weakness interview question.
List of Weakness Topics For Your Answer
Thus far, we’ve fleshed out answers for a few topics that you can use as your to answer the dreaded weakness interview question. You can plug any of these examples into your answer template.
Having known the best way to answer the common interview question, “What is your biggest weakness?” So get out there, ace your next interview, edge out the competition, and land that job offer!
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