Job Interview Question: What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
It’s hard to talk about personal weaknesses, especially during a job interview, when you’re striving to highlight your strengths and showcase your skills and talents. But you don’t have to view this question negatively; it gives you the chance to exhibit self-awareness and maturity.
This is a core interview question. So expect that it will be posed, and take the opportunity to do some soul-searching about what you have learned so far in your career and where you can grow professionally.
Reflect and Prepare
Sometimes it’s hard to see our weaknesses, but owning them helps us evolve. That’s why this question is powerful. Being honest with ourselves about where we would benefit from increased attention, training or support is a meaningful exercise.
Think about your job performance as you examine appraisals or other assessment tools. Where do you excel, and where do you struggle? Are there parts of your job that are routinely frustrating to you? Are there aspects of your role that you dread?
Just observe what is there, without judgement. Make a list and make peace with its contents. Our weaknesses are not bad. They are just part of us.
Discuss How You Address Challenges
Once you have your list, look at each item and note what you have done professionally to address it. Perhaps you attended a training session that helped you become more strategically organized. Perhaps you met with a colleague who gave you some tips on how to cultivate a more savvy social media presence. Maybe you joined a club that helped make you a more confident public speaker.
When you discuss your weaknesses in an interview, you can also talk about how you have managed those issues. Mention any meaningful results from your efforts such as an increased performance rating.
Tie in a Strength
Using our strengths to bolster our weaknesses is a survival strategy. It’s also a good rhetorical tool to use when discussing our weaknesses in a professional context.
If your weakness is in strategic organization, for example, and you have strong social skills, mention how you used your social skills to get help from those who supported you in this area of challenge.
I am always looking for ways to refine my organization skills. I tend to be more creative and free-flowing, which serves me well in a lot of ways. But I have been challenging myself to be more organized. Over the years I’ve had a variety of jobs, including database administrator.
I had to be very detail-oriented in that role. The database served 50 users, and I had to input data, keep systems running smoothly and help my colleagues if they encountered issues with their applications.
I took a strategic organization class through the human resources department to refine my organizational skills, and I met with coworkers who I knew excelled in this area.
I would say that organization skills are a natural weakness of mine, but asking for help and finding support is a strength. I continue to use this strength to help myself succeed in this area of challenge for me.
Your professional weaknesses don’t have to be a source of shame. Own them. Address them. And confidently discuss your strategies for accommodating them when you interview for your next job.