How to answer what is your greatest weakness (Job interview tips from the experts)
Getting through a job interview can be like trying to get through an obstacle course. Each question, a new challenge that you need to navigate all while staying positive, calm and focused.
And one of the most feared questions that comes up time and again is ‘What’s your greatest weakness?’. However, at itContracting our Recruitment Consultants eat questions like these for breakfast. And if you’re currently trying to prepare for your next big interview, then we’ve got you covered.
Below are our best answers to this tricky question and ways in which you can forefront your vulnerabilities in a positive way that leaves a shining impression on your potential employer.
Let’s get started!
What is your greatest weakness? How NOT to answer
Firstly, it might be worth mentioning a few tips on what NOT to answer. Avoiding the issue with answers such as, ‘I’m too much of a perfectionist’ or ‘I don’t have any weaknesses’ is a no-no.
These are a cop out and could even lessen your chances of getting the job you are going for because they demonstrate one of two things, that a) you’re lying or b) you lack any sense of self-awareness – neither of which are ideal.
Secondly, you don’t want to be too self-depreciating either. It’s ok, no one is perfect. The aim of this question is to help the interviewer get a clearer picture of you in the workplace. This means approaching your answer in a way that is:
- Honest – it’s always best to be yourself.
- Progressive – show how you are working on this area.
- Secondary – Pick a trait that isn’t critical to the role you are applying for.
Best answers to the ‘What is your greatest weakness?’ interview question
So, with our initial pointers out the way, we can delve into what you should be answering for the dreaded weakness question:
1) I have trouble saying no
This is a genuine weakness that many people will have experienced before and it’s a serious issue because it can lead to problems further down the line such as missing deadlines or burnout. What’s lovely about it, is that it can be linked to personality types who just want to help others and achieve the best they can. However, there’s a limit to how much anyone can take on.
If you want to use this as your answer, remember to counterbalance it with how you are developing your time management skills as well as your prioritisation skills. In addition, if you’re someone who finds it hard to say ‘no’ why not try suggesting an alternative instead? That way you can stay solutions focused while maintaining a realistic workload.
2) I can lack confidence
There are lots of scenarios where people can lack confidence. It may not necessarily be all the time – it could be in certain situations for example speaking to a large group of people or when presenting their ideas. And even the most confident of people have their insecurities. The point is, when you demonstrate awareness of where you lack confidence as well as what you can do about it, that’s the key.
An ideal answer would highlight the areas where you feel anxious but also follow it up with the work you are doing to help.
3) I multitask too much
Multitasking can seem like a good trait until you realise just how much it can impact your productivity. Even if your role demands your focus across multiple projects, you should still only focus one thing at a time. If you’re guilty of trying to do everything at once while getting nothing done, then explain how you break down your workload to help simplify your tasks and get more done.
4) I lack experience
Experience is just like practice. No one is brilliant at everything straight away and most people have to practice doing particular things to be good at them. So, if you lack experience in a particular area, this is a great way to highlight the things you are working on and want to get better at.
You might want to talk about how you’d like more practice at delegating tasks, or you are working on getting more experienced at presenting or leading projects.
This answer shows you are working on yourself which is always positive.
5) I have trouble asking for help
Particularly with working from home, asking for help in a new job can be really tricky. You want to demonstrate you’re capable without disturbing others so it’s understandable.
A good way to frame this is to explain how you understand asking for help benefits the business because it helps you get things right first time. Detail your approach for asking for help such as taking notes throughout the day and then organising a quick call to run through your queries with your manager. And you might even want to take notes while on the call for reference at a later date.
6) I’m too honest
Sometimes being overly open with your opinions can make people feel upset. It’s certainly worth knowing your audience before you open your mouth and even though once people get to know you, they will appreciate your honest approach, some who are more sensitive might take what you say the wrong way.
If this sounds like you, then showing self-awareness is the best way to counteract your honest views! You can say this is something you’re working on, what techniques do you use before speaking, have you done any courses to help give constructive feedback? All these things will help support your answer.
7) I struggle to make decisions
If you have come from a creative background or an environment with strong leadership, you can be prone to indecisiveness, which can be viewed as a weakness in some roles.
The best way to answer this question is to forefront your experience and explain how your deep knowledge within this area often leads you to the right decision regardless, and that over the years you have learnt to trust your instinct.
Whatever weakness you’ve decided to give as your answer in an interview, always balance it out with how you are working on this trait. Remember:
- Be yourself.
- Be progressive.
- Be positive.
Talk to our experts
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