One of the most common questions interview candidates ask, is how to answer job interview weaknesses.

Why do interviewers want to know your weaknesses?

Interviewers want to know you are self-aware. They want to know how you deal with weaknesses and that you can learn from them.

Approach to dealing with “What are your weaknesses?”

  1. Keep it work-related. No interviewer wants to know that you have difficulty getting up in the morning or you can be snappy with your partner when you have had a long day. If you cannot think of work situations, think of situations that could apply to work.
  2. Be positive. Try and identify traits that are behaviours rather than attitudes. For example, I am great at the beginning of projects, but the last mile always seems to take ages. As opposed to, I don’t like people who work really hard and make the rest of us look average.
  3. Take time to think about what your weaknesses could be. Don’t borrow someone else’s. You’ll have to expand on the answer you give, see below.
  4. Show how you deal with the weakness and mitigate negative results. (Because I am not great at completing projects, I ensure someone on the team is really strong at completing and finishing).
  5. Be prepared to support your answer with examples. Interviewers will want to know that this is a genuine weakness, so it is likely you’ll be asked ‘can you give me an example at work where this has happened?

If you are still stuck on trying to figure out your weaknesses, why not ask a friend or some friends what they think your strengths and weaknesses are? You may find out something about yourself you didn’t know or expect. One of my perceived weaknesses is I have difficulty focussing and, by extension, am unfocused. A couple of friends have told me how focused they think I am on doing certain things. It’s news to me!

Practise answering job interview questions – then practise some more

When preparing answers to job interview weaknesses, make sure you say them out loud repeatedly. Record your replies to make sure they sound natural. Keep running them over in your mind, and be on the lookout for new potential weaknesses that demonstrate your awareness and ability to deal with and learn from them.

There’s more about answering questions about your weaknesses here.