Janice Reed
Community Specialist
Posted August 7, 2020

How to talk about weaknesses in an interview

Tell us about your biggest weakness... Trying to answer this prompt can be a tough part of any interview. Here's how you can honestly and gracefully respond in an interview.
Janice Reed
Community Specialist
Follow
Like
Comment
Share
How to talk about weaknesses in an interview
Jump to section

When you’re in an interview, your main goal is to present yourself in the best light possible. Your potential employer, however, has different motives. While you’re trying to make your skills and experience shine, a hiring manager may be looking for reasons to eliminate you from consideration during an interview.

One of the best ways to test your fit for a position is to pitch curveball prompts or questions at you to see how you respond to them. Of these classic curveball prompts, the most difficult to answer remains:

Tell me about your biggest weakness…

So how do I best answer this?

When this prompt is given to you by a hiring manager, it can be hard to know exactly what to say (if you’re not prepared.) Here are three ways you can gracefully make it through answering this interview prompt and show a hiring manager that you’re a proactive and qualified candidate.

Stay calm

You may be struggling to do this already in an interview. Interviews are stressful! But it’s important to take a deep breath and make sure you’re projecting calm and confidence when you answer this prompt. In an interview, your attitude should sell what you’re saying.

If you’re talking about a weakness of yours, don't slump your shoulders in shame or tug at your collar out of anxiety. What you want to say with your body language is: “I’m self aware enough to know what my weakness is, but I’m mature enough to not be ashamed that I’m not perfect. I’m owning it.”

Be honest

While it may be tempting to say something like “My weakness is that I work too hard” or something else that isn’t truly a weakness...know that this will ultimately hurt you more than it would help you. No hiring manager wants to hear a non-answer or a dodge to this prompt, what they’re really looking to see is how you’ve discovered and dealt with a weakness of yours. If you say you have no weaknesses you avoid answering the prompt and a hiring manager will be left with the impression that you’re not a self aware employee with a will to improve.

So what are the types of weaknesses I can talk about?

Good question! Here are a few example weaknesses you can bring up if they apply to you. Taking an inventory of your weaknesses is just as valuable as taking an inventory of your strengths and skills. When you learn what your weaknesses are and own them, you take control of your growth as an employee, and perhaps as a person too!

Example weaknesses:

  • Time management
  • Delegating tasks
  • Issues with focus
  • Missing important details
  • Impatience
  • Issues with software or hardware you needed to operate
  • Other hard skills like mathematics, financial literacy or workspace organization.

Tell them the story of your weakness

In order to properly paint a picture of how you have been proactive about solving issues in your work-life, it helps to tell a story. Like all good stories, yours should have a beginning, middle and end.

The beginning shows how you discovered your weakness:

My greatest weakness is organization. I noticed this while I was working for (Company). I wasn’t getting my work done as quickly as my coworkers and when I compared our workspaces I noticed that many of them had set up organizational systems whereas mine was disorganized. This was causing me to lose time as I tried to do my tasks with no system in place.

The middle shows what you did to solve the problem:

I pulled some of my coworkers aside to ask them how they organized their spaces so I could get some advice on howI could organize my workspace. With their advice and a consideration for my preferences, I set up an organizational system that worked best for me and greatly improved my efficiency.

The end tells a hiring manager what you took forward from that experience:

After I left (Company) I made sure to implement similar systems at my workspaces going forward to ensure that my tendency toward being disorganized doesn’t affect my productivity in future positions.

Telling your story communicates that you are:

  1. Self aware enough to recognize an active weakness
  2. Proactive enough to think of and implement a solution
  3. Conscientious enough to take steps to prevent your weakness from impacting you going forward

What if I don’t have an example to share?

If you don’t have an example from your past, that’s okay! Instead of speaking in the past tense, frame your story as a hypothetical. Instead of talking about what you have done to improve upon your weakness, tell them what you could do to improve upon your weakness in a work setting.

This will show your hiring manager that you have given your weakness some deep thought, and have a plan to prevent it from impacting your work going forward.


So tell us about your biggest weakness…

Use the tips I provided above to construct your response to this prompt in the comments below.

15
8 Comments
Like
Comment
Share
Janice Reed
Community Specialist
Follow

Comments

Ford Simpson

By solving your weaknesses you have made them a strength have you not? Faced with shortcomings we all have you have shown the ability to rectify problems and ask for help when needed.I only see this as a feather in your cap. The employer will.Thanks Ford

1y
Like
Reply
2
Kai Dickerson

Great approach on this topic @deleted user I think this is incredibly actionable!

1y
Like
Reply
2
Mary Downing

Love this thank you. I will definitely screen shot this so when i have to interview again that question wont knock me down. That's the one part of the interview that always kicked my behind

1y
Like
Reply
2
Flora Knight

Absolutely! Thanks this info was on point much needed...

1y
Like
Reply
2
Darryl Hartley

I have no weakness

30w
Like
Reply
1
Denise Falzoi

I tend to interrupt, not because I'm not listening or I'm just waiting to hear myself talk but when the subject matter is extremely important to me or I'm very knowledgeable about it, I get over-excited...is this an okay answer to the "what is one of your weaknesses " ???

7w
Like
Reply
2
Post
Related Articles
Jul 1, 2021

The 7 most common interview questions about education

Eleana Bowman
Community Specialist
Follow
5
1 Comment
Like
Comment
Share
4
1 Comment
Like
Comment
Share
Aug 6, 2020

Build a tight 60 second elevator pitch using these tactics

Lenin Pina
Community Specialist
Follow
7
4 Comments
Like
Comment
Share
May 1, 2020

Top interview questions!

Ashley Wilson
Follow
15
9 Comments
Like
Comment
Share
10
1 Comment
Like
Comment
Share
9
1 Comment
Like
Comment
Share
Jun 19, 2020

How to talk about employment gaps during an interview

Kai Dickerson
Community Specialist
Follow
11
10 Comments
Like
Comment
Share