How to Answer "What are your Weaknesses?" in a Job Interview

Never an easy question, but it is still being asked in job interviews online and in person. Here is the right way to answer the tough interview question "What are Your Weaknesses?"

Interviewing for a job by video or in-person still likely means that you will encounter the dreaded question "What are your weaknesses?" This question may get asked in a couple of different ways, but the person asking it will still want to know your answer. Answering this question can make or break your interview. Here is what you need to know to answer this job interview question the right way.

Pick 2 - 3 Weaknesses

To answer this question, you must actually pick a few weaknesses. You cannot say that you don't know or don't have any weaknesses. Instead, you must be clear in your answer about what you think that your weaknesses are.

The easiest weaknesses are those that are skills-based or specific to a particular job/company. For example, if you are an external candidate, your weakness could be the lack of knowledge in how this company does something and the need to learn their processes and people. You could also pick something that is a broader skill to identify what you are working on as a professional.

Another option would be to strategically bring a topic up in the interview that the person may want to ask but hasn't. Or, an item that isn't necessarily obvious but that you should bring up in the interview. This could be a need for accommodation in the workplace or a lack of background in the industry. Things that the hiring manager will be thinking about at some point in the hiring process, but if you bring it up then you can control the messaging without awkwardly raising the issue or letting people make assumptions about something that you really don't want them to presume about.

Be Honest

You must be honest in selecting your weaknesses. Saying that your weakness is that you care too much or work too hard will be viewed as disingenuious. This is the worst option right now because people want honesty - especially if they are hiring and starting their teams remotely. So, take the time to answer the question with an honest answer.

Think about what it is that you think that you need to work on. The people interviewing you will appreciate the honesty and will care more about how that fits into their open job. This will also make you more relatable as a candidate and as a person. No one is perfect and how you handle those imperfections can often be more important to your colleagues than what those particular imperfections may be.

Provide Examples

There are also times when it is appropriate to provide examples of your weakness. You don't want to use any examples in your answer that create warning flags or concerns of the person interviewing you. These examples also do not need to be overly elaborate. Instead, pick examples to illustrate your weaknesses if the examples strengthen your answer to the question and help the person to better understand your message.

There are times when the examples are not optional when answering a job interview question about your weaknesses. In these cases, make sure that you are providing clear examples with enough detail about what happened and the role of your weakness in the situation. Do not tell every little detail about the situation, instead focus on yourself and your weakness in the situation as that is most relevant to the person interviewing you.

Explain What You are Doing to Work on it

Finally, and most importantly, make sure that you take the time to say exactly what you are doing to overcome your weakness. It is not enough to simply say that you have a weakness. Instead, you also need to say what you do to identify and/or improve your abilities.

The details of your weakness will dictate how you answer this part of the question. If the weakness is a knowledge gap, then working on getting additional certifications or degrees is a great way to show that you are committed to overcoming this limitation. However, if your weakness is something a bit less concrete, then make sure you talk about how you identify and strive to overcome such limitations. This could be as simple as delegating more, finding a mentor, or requesting people to give stronger feedback. Whatever the answer is, make sure that you are framing it up positively and with a forward-thinking lens.

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