So you finally have your foot in the door of your dream company. You submitted the perfect resume and made a lasting impression on the phone screen. Now all you have to do is win over the hiring manager in person.
As a well-informed candidate, you will do your research on the company and prepare your answers to the most important interview questions you can think of. The most notorious of them all is, “What is your greatest weakness?”
You don’t want to answer, “I tend to work too hard” or “I’m too much of a perfectionist”. This can easily appear scriptural and, at best, insincere and, at worst, unconscious.
Alternatively, you don’t want to respond with weaknesses that prevent you from taking on the role successfully. For example, if you’re applying to be a project manager, you don’t want to admit that you are “not very good at time management”.
Fortunately, there are ways to answer this question to show your worth as a candidate. Here we have some incredible answers to the main question, “What is your greatest weakness?” Refined – don’t worry, these answers aren’t “perfectionism”.
How To Answer What Are Your Biggest Weaknesses?
- Pick a weakness that doesn’t prevent you from being successful in the role.
- Be honest and choose a real weakness.
- Provide an example of how you’ve worked to improve your weakness or learn a new skill to deal with the problem.
- Show confidence and the ability to look to others to provide you with the resources you need to grow.
- Don’t be arrogant and don’t underestimate yourself.
1. Choose a weakness that does not prevent you from being successful in the role.
When an interviewer asks, “What is your greatest weakness?” they want to find out:
- Whether you have a healthy sense of self
- Whether you can be open and honest, especially about flaws
- Whether you are improving yourself and using growth opportunities to combat these issues instead of letting these weaknesses hold you back
Ultimately, you’ll want to use this question to demonstrate how you’ve used a weakness as motivation to learn a new skill or to grow professionally. Everyone has weaknesses – your interviewer doesn’t expect you to be perfect.
If you are applying for a position as a copywriter that requires little math skills, you may admit, “I have problems with numbers and not much experience with data analysis. While math is not directly related to my role as a writer, I believe it is important to have a rudimentary understanding of Google Analytics to make sure my job is going well. To address this weakness, I took online courses in data analysis. “
Such a response shows the hiring manager that you recognize your areas of growth and are able to act on them without being prompted. This type of self-starter attitude is a plus for virtually any team.
2. Be honest and choose a real weakness.
The answer “perfectionism” is not going to change it when you talk about your greatest weakness is simply because it is not a real weakness. Perfectionism can never be achieved – it is a fear-based pattern that leads to short-term rewards such as getting work done early and exceeding expectations. In the long run, however, trying to achieve perfectionism leads to burnout, inferior work and missed deadlines. Burnout is one of the biggest contributors to a decrease in productivity, revenue, and low employee engagement. All of this costs a company money, time and talent.
Instead, choose a real weakness. A lack of trust can lie beneath the desire for perfect work. Perhaps you don’t trust that you can make mistakes as a team, so you try to make everything perfect. That is a real weakness that you can definitely overcome.
3. Provide an example of how you’ve worked to improve your weakness or learn a new skill to deal with the problem.
Hiring managers don’t expect you to completely overcome your weaknesses overnight. Everyone has areas that they need to work on constantly in order to stay sharp. Think of it this way: after you’ve devoted six months to exercising, one day you can’t stop and keep progressing. It’s an ongoing process that you need to work on.
By giving an example of how you are working to improve your vulnerability area, you are giving the interviewer some insight into some positive traits of your work style:
1. You know how to identify and mitigate problems that arise.
2. You have found a helpful solution to a problem you and possibly others on the team are facing. This means you can be an immediate resource for the team.
4. You demonstrate confidence and the ability to look to others to provide you with the resources you need to grow.
Most of the time, you have to look outside of yourself to overcome a weakness. Whether you seek help from your manager, the HubSpot blog, or a mentor, simply asking for help shows confidence and ingenuity – two skills that are difficult to teach but valuable to learn. Having access to your resources will allow interviewers to solve problems when the answer is still not clear. It’s a trait that has a place in every team.
Briefly share an example of a time you asked someone for help in an area you identified as a weakness. This gives the hiring team a clear picture of how you are working with the team to make up for this weakness.
5. Don’t be arrogant and don’t underestimate yourself.
Most important thing to do when answering the question, “What is your greatest weakness?” is showing confidence in your answer. (If trust is your weakness, read on.) Even if you aren’t the most confident person, I assume that you are at least honest with yourself. Once you’ve identified an area of vulnerability and you are certain of it, let that assurance shine through in your response. There’s no need to be ashamed of something you’re really not good at as long as you are working to get better.
Before you start expressing a real weakness to your interviewer, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the types of responses that will get hiring managers to work with you. Take a look at the examples below and find some that fit your personality and work style. Then practice reciting them out loud so that they come to you naturally.
Here are seven examples of how you might answer, “What is your greatest weakness?” and why they work.
Here are seven examples of how you can answer, “What is your greatest weakness?” And why they work.
List of weaknesses for interviewers
- Public speech
- Data analysis
“I don’t have a lot of patience when working with a team – I’m incredibly self-sufficient, so it’s difficult to rely on others to complete my job. That’s why I’ve taken on roles that require someone to work independently. However, I have also worked to improve this weakness by enrolling in team building workshops. While I usually work independently, it is nonetheless important that I learn to trust my co-workers and seek outside help when needed. “
This answer works because the weakness – the inability to be patient when working with a team – does not affect your ability to perform well in the role since it is a non-teamwork job to be succesfull. In addition, you strive to develop strategies to combat your weakness, which is vital in the workplace.
“I’m having organizational issues. While this has never affected my performance, I’ve found that my cluttered desk and cluttered inbox can affect my efficiency. Over time, I’ve learned to spend time organizing my physical and digital functions provide space and I’ve seen it improve my efficiency over the week. “
Lots of people have messy desks. This answer works because it’s a relatable and fixable weakness. You find that disorganization does not affect your ability to do your job, which is critically important. However, you also acknowledge that doing so may make you less efficient. To ensure you are performing at 100% performance, mention personal steps you have taken to improve your organizational skills for self-improvement alone, which indicates a level of maturity and self-esteem.
“I am incredibly self-motivated and sometimes find it difficult to delegate responsibility when I feel like I can do the job myself. However, when I became a manager in my last role, it became important that I learn to do tasks delegating I’ve maintained a sense of control over delegating tasks and implemented a project management system to monitor the progress of a project. This system has helped me improve my ability to delegate efficiently. “
This answer enables you to demonstrate the ability to pursue a new skill when a role calls for it, and suggests that you have the ability to be flexible, which is critical to long-term growth. Additionally, you can show a level of initiative and leadership when you mention the successful implementation of a new process that enabled you to thrive in your previous role despite your weakness.
“I can often be shy when I give constructive feedback to employees or managers for fear of hurting the feelings of others. In my last role, however, my employee asked me to work on some of their pieces and provide feedback on areas for improvement From my experience with him, I realized that feedback can be both helpful and kind when delivered correctly. Since then, I’ve been better at giving feedback, and I’ve realized that my empathy can be used to my advantage to be thoughtful and being productive with feedback. “
This answer works because you explained how you could turn a weakness into a strength from a real-world experience. Typically, shyness can be viewed as a mistake in the workplace, especially when a role requires someone else to provide feedback. In this case, through thoughtful thought and practice, you can demonstrate how shyness can be used as a strength.
“My dull, uncomplicated manner has allowed me to be successful as a team manager over the years because I am able to get things done efficiently and people often value my honesty. However, I have realized that my dullness doesn’t always Serves My staff are good at providing feedback. To counter this, I’ve worked to build empathy and deeper relationships with those I manage. I also took an online leadership management course and worked with the professor on mine Ability to provide develop feedback. “
Often facets of our personality can help us in certain areas of our work while they hinder us in others. This is natural. However, you need to be able to demonstrate when your personality interferes with the functions of your role and how you can resolve this.
In this example, you first explain how your dull nature enables you to be successful in certain situations. Then mention that you understand that your dullness can be viewed as a lack of empathy and give examples of how you have tried to solve this problem. Ultimately, your awareness of how others might perceive you shows a level of emotional intelligence that is vital for a team leader.
6. Public speech
“Public speaking makes me nervous. While I don’t have to speak a lot in public in my role as a web designer, I still think it’s an important skill – especially if I want to express my opinion in a meeting. To combat this, I spoke to mine She and her manager recommended that I spend a few minutes at each team meeting about our project schedule, deadlines, and goals in developing a website for a client. This practice has allowed me to relax and see public speaking as an opportunity to to help my team members do their jobs effectively. “
In this example, you mention a skill that is not applicable to the role that you worked on to improve it. This shows your desire to have more business needs than necessary in your current role, which is admirable. Additionally, instead of waiting for your manager to suggest those areas for improvement to you, it is impressive when you can show that you are ready to reach your manager with areas where you want to improve – this shows a level of ambition and Professionalism maturity.
7. Data analysis
“I’m not very good at analyzing data or numbers. I do recognize, however, that this mistake can prevent me from understanding how my content is doing online. In my last role, I arranged monthly meetings with the SEO manager In order to discuss analyzes and how ours. In addition, I received my Google Analytics certificate. Therefore, it is important to me to analyze data on our blog on a regular basis. As a result of these efforts, I have become much more familiar with data. “
In this example, you can show your desire to go beyond a job description and actively seek skills that can be helpful to the success of your entire company. This type of company-first mentality shows the interviewer that you want to make yourself a valuable asset and tries your best to understand the needs of the entire department, not just your role.
There is strength in every weakness
Whether you are bad at numbers or not speaking in group settings, there is a strength behind every weakness. The strength lies in how you work to overcome it. Relying on your teammates who excel in these areas can show that you work well on a team and know how to use your resources to solve problems. Taking part in professional development courses shows that you are ready to work towards improvement. Whichever of these answers you share with the hiring team, they’ll be more than happy to help you grow and exceed expectations for the role.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for completeness.