You might have finally gotten the job interview you’ve always wanted. Your resume is on point and your phone screening went well. The only thing left now is the face-to-face interview to convince your future employer why you are the right person for the job.
During preparation, you have ensured you’ve read and prepared for any question the interviewer might ask you regarding the job you aspire to get. However, there is one question you might not be sure how to go about: “What is your greatest weakness?“
This question can be tricky and challenging, but you need to respond with the correct answers. For example, you cannot respond by saying, ‘I tend to overwork myself,’ or ‘I am a natural perfectionist’ to gain your interviewer’s approval. Responding this way can paint you in a bad light as it makes you look like you rehearsed your answers or even risk you coming off as lacking self-awareness.
Going to other extremes can be bad for you as well. For example, if you say you have poor communication skills when applying to be a salesperson, you might as well have closed that door on yourself.
Your answer needs to be somewhere in the sweet spot. An answer that is natural, sincere, and won’t hurt your chances. So how do you respond to: ‘What are your greatest weaknesses?’. When choosing a weakness, remember a few things to ensure your answer is just what your interviewers want to hear. The following are some of the things to keep in mind.
Pick a Weakness That Won’t Hurt You
As stated earlier, ensure your answer does not cost you your job. Responding with an answer that will indicate you will not be good at your job is not the way to go. Your employees will also be keen on your level of self-awareness, how honest and open you are about your shortcomings, and whether you aim towards improving yourself instead of accepting them.
They need to hear that you use your weaknesses as a motivation to grow and improve yourself; the interviewer knows you are not perfect and they don’t expect you to be. Just be honest about your weakness and show you are willing to grow.
Make It Real
Most people go for being a ‘perfectionist.’ They fail to realize that it is not even a real weakness because it is unattainable. It is a fear-based pattern that aims to get the job done early and exceed expectations. As a result, missed deadlines, low-quality work, and burnout is the outcome. Instead, go for a real weakness that you can overcome, which is human and solvable.
Show Them What You Are Willing to Do to Fight It
Nobody expects you to wake up one day and overcome your fear; it is a process. It would help if you constantly worked to ensure that you are battling it. Put in the effort and work smartly to ensure you are on the right track.
Make Yourself Relatable
During an interview, try as much as possible to humanize yourself; this will improve your connection to the interviewer. Try to find a weakness that most people can relate to as much as possible. Show your interviewer that you understand how important self-improvement is to your work performance.
What Do You Need to Get to Where You Want to Be?
Growth is significant. Look into the people you admire, the people who are successful in the field you are in. What are the character traits those individuals have that you want to work hard and acquire too? Giving an example of how you plan to improve boosts your chances. The interview might show that you can be an immediate resource to the team, take feedback, notice issues, and see how to deal with them.
Most of the time to overcome a weakness you need outside help; once you realize and embrace this, you will show that you are resourceful and self-aware. Unfortunately, these two skills are precious yet hard to teach.
Balance Out Your Answer
When asked, ‘what is your greatest weakness?’ make sure there is confidence in your voice. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Weaknesses are typical and feeling inadequate or shy about them is nothing as long as you work towards growth. On the other hand, don’t go too far and be arrogant or overconfident.
Examples of Good Weaknesses and How to Phrase Them
The following are some weaknesses and how you can respond to them:
I Have a Hard Time Saying No
Managing your work and helping others requires elegance and good balance. Accepting all kinds of requests from your colleagues may come off as eager and show dedication to help. However, this can also show that you don’t have limits and may spread yourself too thin and need help with your work.
If this is you, try showing your employee that you are working towards better managing and organizing your tasks and setting realistic goals with your work and colleagues.
For example, you might say, “My greatest weakness is that I have a hard time turning down people, thus ending up with more work than I can manage. In my experience, it has led to burnout and stress. However, I recently started using project management software for clarity to see if the work I take on is manageable.”
I Lack Confidence
A lack of confidence is expected, especially for beginners in their field of work. It can lead to inefficiencies; you might feel like your input is not relevant or essential even though it is. As a result, you might be quiet in brainstorming meetings even though you have a killer idea.
For this weakness, show that you value confidence and how you grow and practice it in the workplace.
For example: “My weakness lies in a lack of confidence. I have had to keep track of my contribution to the teams I have worked with to truly realize why I need to do better and improve myself to be confident in myself. I have tried to contribute ideas and suggestions in team meetings. My last team used a pitch I had given and improved customer service by 13 percent.”
I Get Frustrated When I Go Beyond a Deadline
Employers don’t like seeing employees stressed or frustrated over missed deadlines, which usually snowballs into low-quality work. However, this can also be a good thing because it also means you have high regard for delivering work on time.
You must frame this just right and show that you appreciate work done on time and are working towards improving yourself to get it done on time.
For example: “I get frustrated when my work is late and I tend to panic; this is because I love getting work done on time. However, recently, I have been keeping myself in check to make sure that I react appropriately and bring about efficiency in my work.”
I Am Detail-Oriented
It is typical to get caught up in the details, but if you overdo it in every project you are involved in, it can be considered a weakness. To your employer, however, this can show them you are keen on your work and can help the team avoid tiny mistakes.
Explain how you plan on improving as employees who tend to be preoccupied with tiny adjustments are not ideal, but one who aims to deliver quality work is a must-have asset.
For example: “I tend to dwell a little too much on the finer details, but I have been working towards this by regularly reminding myself of the big picture. With that, I can ensure that my work is of great quality without failing to meet deadlines or hindering my productivity.”
I Don’t Work Well With Others
It is almost impossible to find someone who will get along with everyone. Flexible individuals can find some personalities unbearable. However, good teamwork involves being aware of how you interact with people around you to get the job done.
If this is your weakness, talk about the characteristics of people you’ve had a hard time working with and why. Then talk about how you resolved your issues and worked together.
Example: “It has always been hard for me to work with silent, quiet, and reserved personality types. I realize that a strong team has diversity, but I feel everyone on the team should be more communicative, flexible, and active. I have tried to deal with this by getting to know them personally and getting their perspective. Doing this has helped me understand and communicate better, not to mention created better work results.”
The above examples are some weaknesses you can use to see how you can grow and improve yourself. Remember that you must also follow up on your weaknesses with how you work to combat them. Showing your employer that you aim to turn your weakness into a strength is something that will give you added points.