Tough Interview Questions: How to Answer "What are your Weaknesses" in 3 minutes

You can either watch the video or if you prefer to read there’s the blog post below :

What are your weaknesses! It’s probably one of the trickiest and most problematic questions you’re going to come across at interview and it’s one that I get asked about all the time. Despite it being an open-ended question it’s forcing you to talk about yourself in a negative way.

However before we go into actually answering the question you need to ask yourself one question “well why are they asking it?” Well firstly they want to see how you answer the question and secondly how you react. They want to see if you panic, if you become nervous or get flustered. So regardless of the content of your answer you want to maintain the same level of confidence and poise as you would for other questions.

Now let’s move on to answering the question. First you need to make a short list of all your weaknesses. Focus on specifics rather than general weaknesses. So for example rather than writing “lazy” write “slow to respond to emails” once you have your list is now time to think which weaknesses has the least negative impact for the particular job that you’re applying for.

Also think about something which they can empathise with, so for example if you’re a software developer a weakness you could talk about is the fact that you’re a little shy when it comes to speaking large meetings. This weakness of yours has very little impact on the core skills that are required to do the job and at the same time gives a genuine weakness and in this case makes it relatable so they can actually empathise with you in a positive way.

Another example could be a sales role think about which one of your weaknesses we’ll have the least negative impact. To use myself as an example having worked in the sales office myself what I found difficult was filling in KPIs and basic administrative tasks. Again the weakness that I mentioned here isn’t something that’s going to reduce my ability to do my job well because my core job is to sell products and services and not administration. No company is going to hire a sales person whose fantastic administration but terrible at selling. In the same way that a software developer whose a terrible programmer however is fantastic at participating in meetings.

Once you’ve stated your weakness you can then go on to say that you’ve identified this as a problem and that you’re working on it so for a sales role you could say the following:

“I’ve been working on it and I realised its value and I’ve learnt that if I stay on top of it, it will free up more of my time to focus on sales”.

For a software developer you could say the following:

“it’s something I’m aware of and I’ve been practicing a range visualisation techniques prior to going into meetings and this is given me a lot of confidence and I’ve actually improve significantly over the last year”

To recap
  1. remember ensure that you speak with the same level of confidence as you’ve been doing with the other questions
  2. Make a list of weaknesses focus on specific weaknesses rather than general ones
  3. Use the weakness in your list which has the least negative impact for the role that you’re interviewing for
  4. Mentioned that is something you’re aware of followed by what you’re doing to improve on that weakness

Farhan Raja

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