How to Answer ‘What’s your Greatest Weakness’ in a Job Interview

You’re in the final stretch of your interview, and you’ve been knocking it out of the park, when the interviewer asks you, “What’s your greatest weakness?” Ugh, eye roll. You expected the question, but hoped it wouldn’t actually be asked in fear of coming off weak, overconfident, or stereotypical. This hauntingly brilliant question for an interviewer to ask leaves countless interviewees grasping for words, but don’t let this question kill your interview! Instead, use it to your advantage by following these tips on what to do and what to avoid to ensure you impress your interviewer:

What to do:

Be honest.

This is tricky because you don’t want to start listing all these qualities why they shouldn’t hire you, but that’s the whole point of the question. Being honest is key in a job interview, so if you know your greatest weakness is being unorganized, tell the interviewer! Don’t make something up that you think is a better answer just to impress them, because this isn’t a question that can have an impressive answer. Instead, the way you can impress them by answering this question is how you answer, not what you answer. Honesty is an important quality to have, and it will go a longer way with your interviewer than an ‘impressive’ weakness.

Communicate how you are working on your weakness.

Being honest with your interview in revealing your greatest weakness is hard to do, especially if it is something you are embarrassed to admit. Your interviewer is looking at how you are answering this question because they know it’s a catch-22 and want to see how you act under the circumstances. Once you’ve revealed your greatest weakness, go in depth regarding how you are already working to fix this. Communicate a plan with your interviewer on how you intend to continue working on this issue in the future, and show interest in how the position you’re interviewing for is able to help you. You may be able to ask about services the employer offers that can be beneficial towards your development; leadership training, educational opportunities and continued education are all helpful tools for personal development that are often offered through employers. Contrasting with the weakness you just shared, doing this shows you understand you aren’t perfect but you know what you need to work on and you’re proactive in fixing your flaws.

What not to do:

Dance around the question.

No one wants to reveal their greatest flaw to and interviewer deciding your employment fate. However, avoiding an answer to the question will usually be seen as weak in itself and can be more damaging to your chances than if you had answered honestly. Skipping around the question could raise a red flag to the interviewer because it shows you are afraid to answer the question, suggesting the answer is something they wouldn’t hire you because of.

Give a cliché answer.

“I’m a perfectionist,” “I work too hard sometimes,” “I care too much,” While these may have been clever answers when the question was first asked, now they are simply cliché answers that your interviewer will see right through. Twisting a positive quality into your answer for your greatest weakness is not only over-done, but it can cause alarm for the interviewer that you are overconfident and think you have no real flaws, and most employers don’t appreciate employers who can’t admit to their flaws.

Give them a reason not to hire you.

Honesty is key in an interview, but don’t forget that it is an interview and you are trying to impress the interviewer and convince them to hire you for their job! Don’t give them an answer that calls for alarm regarding the position you’re applying for or you as an employee in general. If you answer telling them that your biggest weakness is that you never get along with coworkers, sleep in through work too often, or go on Facebook too much at work, they will most likely be turned off from hiring you. Keep in mind what position you are interviewing for when you answer this question. Know what qualities your interviewer is looking for in this position, and don’t tell them that you don’t fit the qualities they’re looking for!

We’re all human; nobody is perfect and your interviewer knows that, so when you’re asked this question remember that it’s how you answer that is more important than what you answer (as long as you don’t give them reasons to believe you would be a terrible employee). Be honest, engaging, and humble when speaking about your flaws, make sure you explain how you are proactively working on improving these qualities, and your interviewer should appreciate your answer.

Do you have any tips on how to answer the question “what’s your greatest weakness?” in an interview? Let us know in the comments!

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