job interview

Weakness Interview Question

"What are your weaknesses" is one of the toughest, yet most important questions asked during a job interview. Learn how to prepare for an interview and answer this question with our professional advice and videos.

Weaknesses you shouldn't discuss

Check out the following scene, taken from our interview preparation video, in which the interviewee fails to understand the importance of this question:

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if you present your weakness with reluctance or hesitance you are likely to make a bad impression and magnify the importance of the weakness.

It is important to show that you can cope with difficult questions. The interviewer may wonder – if you have trouble coping with a question in an interview, how will you face difficulties and challenges at work? Therefore, your progression, the tone of your voice and body language is often of more importance than the actual content.

  • Do not avoid the question, be direct and confident.

  • Do hesitate and don't be reluctant to expose a weakness; it is only human.
  • Cope with the question and face the challenge.

You may want to check out our online interview preparation video for a full answer to this question.

Weaknesses you should discuss

Expose real weaknesses you have but be selective, and choose those that are less likely to affect your ability to succeed on the job. You may also wish to demonstrate how you are striving to improve those qualities.

Watch the full interview preparation video for free now >>

In an interview for a financial manager position the interviewer asks Joe, "what are your weaknesses?"

Joe knows that he is impulsive, sometimes even aggressive and stubborn. He is too self-critical and critical of others, a tough and demanding manager. In response to the question, Joe chooses to disclose only some of these weaknesses – those that do not affect his likelihood of success in the job.

Joe: "I am too self-critical and may be quite stubborn at times"

Joe's response is sincere and direct, yet the qualities he chose to present do not affect his ability to perform and therefore they are unlikely to affect his chances of passing the interview – on the contrary.

Typical weaknesses to disclose at a job interview:

  • Suspicion
  • Stubbornness
  • Criticism
  • Perfectionism
  • Being too demanding
  • Controlling
  • Lack of humour
  • Being too sensitive
  • Lack of assertiveness (for IT professionals such as programmers)

We recommend:

  • Make a list of the weaknesses you think you possess and select those weaknesses that are less likely to affect your successful performance on the job and that are of less relevance to the specific position you are applying. 

  • Face such a question "head on", don't be reluctant and don't be concerned too much with the implications of the actual answer. "I sometimes stick too much to my principles, but I am aware of this problem" – is not a good answer. You are trying to avoid the question and the impression you make is not a good one.

  • Be sincere, present real weaknesses. Needless to say, do not exaggerate and be selective about the weaknesses you choose to disclose. Do not present ones that may directly affect your performance on the job you are applying for. Remember that a weakness interview question is actually a way to show your strengths.

  • Answer in a confident, direct and non-hesitant manner.

It is important you remember that a weakness is a virtue in disguise. Someone who is "talkative" may be "good at negotiation", someone who is "unfriendly" may have a "long concentration span." The flip side of  "impatience" is being "concise" and "to the point." Someone who has a "lack of eye for details" may have the ability to "strategically manage multiple projects – see the bigger picture". someone who is "routine averse" may be "creative".

Watch the full interview preparation video for free now >>

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