What Are Your Weaknesses: Job Interview Answer Examples

What Are Your Weaknesses: Job Interview Answer Examples

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What Are Your Weaknesses?

What are your weaknesses? Yes, the dreaded job weaknesses interview question. The last thing you want to do at an interview is to say that you are bad at something. Good news: you can answer the "what are your weaknesses" job interview question without sabotaging yourself. And—hint—it does NOT involve pretending that being a perfectionist is a personal weakness.

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What Are Your Weaknesses?

This article will show you: – What an interviewer wants to hear when they ask for a list of weaknesses. – How to answer the "what are your weaknesses" job interview question. – The best "what are your weaknesses" example answers.

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What Are Your Weaknesses? Here’s What You’re Being Asked

What does the interviewer want to find out by asking the "what are your weaknesses" question? Here’s a little secret. It’s about how you answer, not what you answer. The interviewer is looking for three qualities:

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 Self-awareness

RIGHT An ideal candidate won’t deny that they have real weaknesses. But the weakness they choose won’t interfere with the duties of the job in question.

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 Self-awareness

"Yes, I have a couple of weaknesses. My biggest weakness is my inability to work well on a team. That’s why I became a truck driver. I get to spend most of my time alone."

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 Self-awareness

WRONG Some candidates will hear the "what are your weaknesses" question and freeze. They panic and deny that they have any. Denial is one of the worst mistakes you can make. Weaknesses? What weaknesses? You mean me? You must be kidding! I don’t have any.

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Honesty

RIGHT An ideal candidate won’t lie about their weaknesses. Choose a real weakness and talk about the steps you’re taking to address it.

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Honesty

"I’m not very good at gauging how long a task will take me to finish. I quite often underestimate the time it will take to do smaller jobs. The result is that I don’t delegate enough time to larger, more important projects. I have to rush to get things done. Sometimes I miss deadlines. To address the issue, I’ve started taking time management courses at my local community college."

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Honesty

WRONG Disguising a strength as a weakness. What are my weaknesses? Well, for one thing, I’m such a perfectionist. Everything has to be perfect. Not to mention I’m a definite workaholic. Plus, I’m obsessive about organization. Everything has to be perfect and in place. It’s super annoying.

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Self-improvement

RIGHT An important part of your "what are your weaknesses" answer is showing self-improvement. You should include details about the steps you’re taking to learn a skill or correct a weakness.

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Self-improvement

"I have two greatest weaknesses. The first is my inability to share responsibilities. The second is remaining patient during group projects. I want to be in control. I don’t trust others with work I know I can do better. So, if I have to share a task, I lose my patience when I suspect that the other person isn’t doing it right. 

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Self-improvement

I’ve discussed these weaknesses with my supervisor as areas I’d like to improve. We’ve set up a timeline and goals for me to achieve. I’ve enrolled in several team building workshops and a volunteer group. I’m learning to let go and trust others. My supervisor complimented me on my progress."

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Self-improvement

WRONG You are not confessing your sins or discussing childhood traumas with a therapist. So, don’t talk about your greatest weakness of all time and then wait for mercy.

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Self-improvement

"I hate animals. I hate animals so much that I yell at my sister’s dog when she isn’t around to hear it. I don’t know why I hate animals so much. I suspect that it comes from the time when a seagull ate my taco. That bird swooped down and ate a taco out of my hand. I’ve never been the same since. I don’t know what to do about it."

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

How are you supposed to come up with a list of weaknesses in the first place? And yes, you’ll want to make a list of your job weaknesses in advance. Plus, you’ll want to prepare yourself so you can talk about most of them if necessary. That’s because the interviewer may start with: What is your greatest weakness?

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

And follow up with: What are some other weaknesses? First, look at this: Here is a list of common professional skills you can mention when answering questions about your weaknesses during a job interview:

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

– Teamwork – Time management – Sharing responsibility – Patience – Focus – Shyness – Organization skills – Sitting still – Writing skills – Overtalking – Delegating tasks – Humor – Presenting to public

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

– Public speaking – Speaking too honestly – Spontaneity (you don't like to work unprepared) – Multitasking – Command of a particular foreign language. But you should also come up with your own, customized list of personal and professional weaknesses that you can use to further inform your answer. Here's how to do it:

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

Start by asking yourself the following: – Is there a task or work-related skill that I don’t like to do or don’t do well? – Was there a time that I failed at work? – Was there a time that I failed at work and corrected it? – Did my supervisor ever point out that I needed to work on something and then praise me when I corrected it?

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

– Did anyone ever criticize me for working in a particular way? – Did I ever have any academic weaknesses? Was there anything problematic for me when I was studying? Remember, the best answer to the "what are your weaknesses" question should have two parts: – The weakness. – What you’re doing to correct it.

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

So, when you make a list of weaknesses, try to come up with those that you’ve worked hard to correct. Next, go to your job offer. What skills can you find? Look at your list.

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

Your answer to the what are your weaknesses question is the only time you’ll want to avoid matching skills from the job offer. You will want to choose weak skills that ARE NOT essential for the job.

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

RIGHT Choose a weakness that isn’t one of the job-related skills listed in the job offer. "One of my biggest weaknesses is that I can’t sit still and focus for extended periods of time. I was never a bookworm. I always preferred athletics and hands-on activities. 

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

To make sure that I got through school with good grades, I set study goals for myself. I would sit still and focus on test materials for thirty minutes. After, I would reward myself with a break to run around or socialize. The system taught me discipline and helped me focus. I graduated from my high school with honors. I am now attending college on an athletic scholarship."

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

First, she doesn’t disguise her weakness as a strength. But she does mention her strengths as she goes along. It’s more than okay to talk about your strengths in your what are your weaknesses answer. For example, she is disciplined and can learn new information. Second, she shows what she did to address her weakness.

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

WRONG Admitting to a weakness that is necessary for the job. "I have anger management issues. I tend to blow up when someone makes me angry or nervous. I guess you can say I’m the opposite of Little Miss Sunshine. Don’t get me wrong. I like people. But I’m a grumpy person. 

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

I don’t have a high tolerance for nonsense or stupidity. I’m working on it, though. I’ve been doing volunteer work with seniors to develop patience and empathy. I have a couple of regulars who are as grumpy as me, and we get along fine." The job offer states that the ideal candidate should be “positive, bubbly, and friendly.” 

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How to Answer the What Are Your Weaknesses Job Interview Question

If that’s not you, you’re not qualified for this job. If you’re going to fake it until you make it (i.e., you need the job), don’t mention that you’re Oscar the Grouch.

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The Best What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses Answers

RIGHT "My greatest weakness is that I am a shy and nervous person by nature. The result is that I have a difficult time speaking up in groups. Even if I have good ideas, I have trouble asserting them. Often I keep them to myself."

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The Best What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses Answers

Here the candidate is admitting a common and real weakness. At the same time, it’s not the best answer if the job requires public speaking skills. Make sure you tailor your response to the job description.

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The Best What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses Answers

"Once, I suggested an idea for a project. The project manager shot it down, and I did not protest. The supervisor heard about my idea. It upset him that I didn’t fight harder for it." Here’s a situation where the candidate’s weakness caused her to fail at work.

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The Best What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses Answers

"I decided that it was time to sign up for speaking classes. I also took some acting classes. The acting classes helped me learn to separate my professional self from my shy self. That helped me a lot." Now, the candidate talks about the steps she took to improve her weakness. She took classes that she felt would help relieve her shyness at work.

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The Best What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses Answers

"The next time I worked on a project, I stood by my ideas. I spoke up and asked the project manager to take a second look at what I had proposed. She agreed that my idea was quite good upon reflection. My supervisor noticed the improvement and promoted me to management. I now head up a team of five people despite being shy."

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The Best What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses Answers

The candidate points out how her actions have resulted in success. It’s okay if you don’t have a success story for your grand finale. All you need to do is show that you are taking steps to improve now and in the future.

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The Best What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses Answers

WRONG "I have terrible time management and organizational skills. I’m one of those people who procrastinates and puts things off until the very last minute. I’ve made up for it over the years because I am a certified genius. Where others would crash and burn if they leave things undone, I flourish. 

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The Best What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses Answers

So, I may look like I do nothing. I may sit in the middle of a mess. But, I will always meet the deadline, even if it’s five minutes from the time I start the work." This type of answer raises all kinds of red flags for the hiring manager. Yes, let’s say she meets deadlines. But she can she turn in quality work last minute? 

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The Best What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses Answers

Doubtful. What about that mess? She makes messes? What kind of messes? Well, that’s not considerate at all.

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Key Takeaway

Yes, sometimes the interviewer will try to catch you off guard with an interview question that isn’t fair. And yes, the what are your weaknesses interview question is one of the worst. To properly answer this dreaded interview question, remember:

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Key Takeaway

– Focus on being self-aware, honest, and dedicated to improvement. If you’ve got these three qualities, your weakness won’t ruin your chances of landing the job. – Try to reflect on your real weaknesses and what you’re doing to improve. – Give an honest and constructive answer. And remember, you’re only human.

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