weaknesses questions

‘What is your greatest weakness?’

Why are recruiters asking this?

No one is perfect. If you’re not aware of things you need to improve, then you don’t seem self-aware or honest. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. But you can strike a balance in responding to this type of question.

So what can’t you say?

  • “I’m a perfectionist” is unoriginal and cliché. Instead you can say “I sometimes focus on small details instead of long-term goals.”
  • “I work too hard” has a similar feel – seems like you’re trying to please and it’s hard to describe. Instead you can describe how you’re trying to use technology to work more efficiently (for example automatically scheduling meetings).

Don’t try to be overly clever and dodge the question by listing something that you think the interviewer might be impressed with. They have heard just about every answer in the book.

Try to be honest about one of your flaws without making it sound like it will prevent you from doing your work. This way, if you end up getting the job, they will expect the weakness that you mentioned in the interview and most likely be a bit more forgiving.

Additionally, it is also a good idea to mention that you are working on improving your weaknesses. This not only emphasizes your self-awareness, but it discreetly highlights your ability to see problems and take action to solve them.

In any instance be sure to tell a story and try to quantify your answer where possible. One person’s view of “too long” or “too much” is another person’s “too little” and “too short”!

Checklist for a great answer 

  • Tell a relatable story
  • Explain your approach to fix it
  • 2 to 3 minutes long
  • STAR Method

Examples

In my first role as a manager of a sales team, I was responsible for a team of 3 people who were all around my same age. In addition to this role, I was continuing to manage my own accounts. Doing both seemed stressful, and I had previously received feedback that I could improve my time management.

 

I was happy to be promoted to manager, but unsure of how to establish the relationship among my former colleagues and manage my own time so I wasn’t working excessive hours (usually 60+ hours per week).


I decided to set 2 check-in meetings with my team each week. With a fixed appointment, I didn’t feel like a micromanager, and my team could also anticipate these times to bring forward issues. Ultimately it is a more efficient use of everyone’s time and helped me to transition into the role as manager.

Other similar questions

  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
  • What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
  • Why shouldn’t we hire you?

How do I get better at these questions?

PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! 

The illustrious economist and statistician EF Schumacher once said: “An ounce of practice is generally worth more than a ton of theory.” We at Mockmate strongly believe in exactly this, which is why we created our AI-powered job interview simulator.  Now is the time to stop reading blog posts and watching YouTube videos, and begin to perfect your interview skills by actually doing it! Start giving yourself an edge here!

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