How to Answer What Are Your Weaknesses! The weakness question is one that frustrates all interviewees. Interviews are supposed to be positive, questions are asked so that you can boast about yourself and show how great you are. However, this question does the exact opposite, going against the normative Interview protocol. In this blog post you’re going to learn the How to successfully answer the dreaded weaknesses question. Learning some of the best strategies and approaches.
Why do employers ask ‘What are your weaknesses?
Employers ask the weaknesses interview question because they want to see if you were honest enough to recognise that you do have weaknesses, but also so it’s a way of them putting you under slight pressure and stress. Which is something you may not experience in other parts of the interview. Since most interviews are focused on you speaking positively about yourself and your experiences; with this question, they’ll be able to see how you handle such a stress in real time.
Although you’ll never land a job based on answering this question, even if it was an incredible answer. You can definitely lose a job offer, if, you answer it poorly. So to successfully overcome this weakness question it’s crucial that you have few examples prepared for the situation.
No doubt for an interviewee to talk about their weaknesses in an interview is annoying. It raises the question what weaknesses should I say? in the interview, and what weaknesses are best for me to answer?
Also there are many companies that use the weakness question as part of their interview and recruitment process this includes organisations that use the STAR interview technique. As well as in the NHS within a set of Band 6 interview questions.
If you’re interviewing at companies such as Amazon or AWS there are many other question types that can prove just as tricky to navigate as the what is your weakness interview question. This, in particular includes the frugality Amazon interview questions. I also recommend that you look at our Amazon leadership principles interview questions and answers blog post which will help you in navigating the infamous Loop interview.
How to answer what are your weaknesses
So now we come to how best to answer the what are your weaknesses question. Follow these three steps:
- Identify and list all your weaknesses, be specific
- Mention weaknesses that will have the least negative impact on the job
- Followed by what you are currently doing to improve on this weakness
Now we will look at what is your weaknesses best answer approach and cover the three points in more depth.
1) Identify and list all your weaknesses
When answering a what is your weakness interview question you have to remember that the interviewer is looking for something authentic and genuine. If you’re found to be by making something up that’s completely false, there’s a possibility you could be found out. Also that it’s something that could be considered as unethical. Therefore I always emphasise the importance of having a weakness which is real. People can also find themselves getting anxious for this question, therefore I really recommend that you learn how to calm nerves before an interview, which is a topic that is covered in one of the other blog posts.
It’s also important to appreciate that there are different levels of weaknesses. Some of your weaknesses might be worse than others. However what is essential is to understand the level of detriment that a weakness has on the vacancy. That’s why I always suggest firstly, to make a list of all your weaknesses, with one important caveat, to be specific! The reason for this is that it would demonstrate that you have really contemplated about and reflected upon what your weaknesses are. This will show you in a positive light. Secondly, when it comes to demonstrating later on in your answer what you are currently doing to resolve that weakness. You’re able to give an acute and precise solution to the question.
For example, weaknesses to say in an interview could be “my greatest weakness are my IT skills”, rather than saying this, you can instead say “my greatest weaknesses is using Excel spreadsheets”. From there you can then specifically say what you’re doing to help overcome this weakness. If you were to say just IT, because it’s very broad, it is harder to give a specific solution but also creates the seeds of doubt in the interviewer’s mind about you.
For example you could list the following in order of biggest weakness to a lesser weakness:
- Time management
- Managing stress levels
- Excel Spreadsheets
- Budget Management
- Dealing with conflict
- Public speaking
- Understanding of the CRM
2) Select one or two weaknesses that will have the least negative impact on the job
When talking about weakness in interview it’s important to remember one key phrase: least negative impact on the job so it’s not about whether you think this weakness is important or not it’s whether or not the interview will feel whether this weakness that you have mentioned will not have any adverse impact on the job. As mentioned previously the challenge with this question is that you can sometimes end up saying something that can rule you out of being successful in a job. If you end up mentioning a weakness which is a complete red flag for the manager or the company. it can take you from a winning position to the losing one! This is why there is such an important emphasis from to focus on the least negative impact that a weakness can have.
Example my greatest weakness, if you’re working in sales from the list above you don’t want to say that one of your weaknesses is time management because that’s an important part of the job as a salesperson you might be required to visit client sites, and also have regular meetings both on the phone and on a video call. Your weakness will have a detrimental impact on the job. Instead maybe one of your weaknesses could be by how you struggle to keep your KPIs updated on the CRM. This of course isn’t a good thing, however it is not the main priority of doing a sales role therefore the manager will see this as an insignificant shortcoming with regards to the role.
3) Talk about what you are currently doing to improve on this weakness
When it comes to how to answer what are your weaknesses, Talking about what you’re doing to circumnavigate and overcome this weakness is equally as important as The weakness itself. This shows that you are someone who is proactive, self reflective and ultimately focused on their own self improvement.
If you’re someone who currently isn’t doing anything to improve on their weakness. It’s important to say what you’re planning to do instead. For example if you’re not very good at presentations but you haven’t invested the time to improve. You could say that you are currently planning to visit your local toastmasters this month to improve your presentation skills.
Example of Greatest Weakness and Best Answer
Now let’s look at some examples my greatest weakness answer. Hopefully this will give you some insight into how to build authentic high quality and what is your weakness best answer.
As a professional who’s been working for many years naturally there are many strengths that I possess. I’m also open and honest enough to accept that I do have weaknesses, no one is perfect and we all have our flaws.
My greatest weakness is using Excel spreadsheets when trying to put together a budget report. Although I’m very comfortable in developing, creating, editing and modifying budgets. I find with Excel I struggle with knowing how to apply for the right formulas. This usually results in me asking someone else for a bit of help.
However, in saying that this is something I’m aware of then I’m currently working on. To overcome this weakness I recently enrolled on the online Excel course which I will hopefully complete by the end of the month.
I’ve given this question quite a bit of thought. So when it comes to my biggest weakness I would say that it’s public speaking. I’m perfectly comfortable speaking in front of small groups of people. However if I have to speak in front of large audiences it’s something that I struggle with. I find myself getting more nervous than usual and not being as confident as I would like to be. When compared to giving presentations.
Now I am working on how to overcome this weakness. I’ve recently started going to my local speakers club and toastmasters! I’m now on the journey on improving my public speaking skills. I expect that my public speaking skills will reach a good standard within the next 6 months.
As you know this industry is very demanding and I always want to perform at my best. However, sometimes I do find that with the demanding workload and my desire to succeed I can struggle in managing my stress levels. This has been a particular challenge in the past and it’s something that I have overtime gotten better at.
Currently to overcome this weakness I have started practising mindfulness before and after work for 10-minutes. I found it it as a great way for me to centre myself! Particularly after work I find that I’m able to put the stresses of the day behind me and re-energize myself. This is something that I’m continuing to work on and trying to improve everyday.
I fully enjoyed working in R&D the best part about working in this industry it’s the fact that you can deep dive and try to find creative Solutions to problems I’ve been very fortunate to come up with some great solutions for challenges within the chemicals industry however that is a double-edged sword and my desire to find creative Solutions to problems and and wanting to dig deeper into problems has resulted in me struggling to manage my time I find sometimes if I have a dead light that I can over shoot it because I’ve spent too much on experiments.
However, this is something that I’m working on. Despite having the desire to find creative and innovative solutions. I recognise that I do need to balance it. Particularly in managing my time because ultimately we are a business and that deadlines are important. I recently started doing a time management course which allows me to plan my day better. Also, I recognise when is the optimal time to step away for a particular piece of research. So, that I’m able to meet a deadline that’s been set. This is something that is work in progress and I continue to work on it on a daily basis.
Remember these are just example my greatest weakness answers. So it’s really important that you go away, reflect and think about what your greatest weakness is. Using the strategies that we’ve mentioned in this blog post. Once you have this answer in the bag you’ll find that you will no longer have to worry about it. From there you can really focus your energy on developing high quality answers, examples and stories for questions that are going to showcase your abilities in a positive light.
So there you have it, the complete and comprehensive approach to how to answer what are your weaknesses. If you don’t know already, we’ve done a fantastic video on how to answer the big weakness question. So if you prefer watching a video rather than reading a long blog post suggest you watch the video below. It’s a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it. Also don’t forget to subscribe and press the like button for a YouTube channel.