This question is one of the most commonly asked interview questions today. It makes sense that this is the case because everyone has a weakness. And that’s something that your future employer will want to know about before offering you the job. It’s definitely a loaded question, and you should be careful not to talk your way out of a job offer. But on the other hand, many interviewers have heard every canned answer to this question and are very tired of hearing fake responses about perfectionism and being too invested in the work. Here’s the key to answering this question well without setting off any alarm bells for your interviewer.
Talk about something not critical to the job
The most obvious tip is probably the hardest one. Focus on a weakness that is not critical to the success of your job. Common weaknesses that people use for this reason such as perfectionism and intense focus are false weaknesses that they try to reposition as a weakness with an upside. Think seriously about what you consider your weakness to be. Everyone struggles with something, from impatience to struggles with communication skills, to difficulty focusing. Are you overly critical of yourself? Do you lack confidence at times? Do you have difficulty asking tough questions or have limited experience with a non-essential skill? All these options are more grounded in a place of truth, but what makes them important to talk about is what that has meant for your personal and professional growth.
Talk about how you recognized or learned from the weakness
People are often afraid to talk about or ask about their failures, but that shouldn’t be the case. Failures are critical stepping stones of successful professionals because they are critical learning opportunities. Don’t be afraid to talk about how you failed, because your greatest successes don’t come from anywhere. They come from applying what you learned from previous failures. Take this opportunity to talk about that learning experience, even if you learned a lesson the hard way and suffered consequences because of it. Remember that the great leaders in any industry are where they are today because they were able to embrace and learn from their failures.
Talk about how you improved
Since most interviewers are used to hearing fake sounding responses of perfectionism and problems of being too invested in the work, talk about a real weakness of yours. Do what you can to put a positive spin on it, but more importantly discuss how you are working to improve. Your weaknesses shouldn’t hold you back so long as you are self-aware enough to understand how they impact your work. Remember, there isn’t a single person who has been interviewed or hired by your future employer who doesn’t have a weakness. The key is to know how it affects you and what you are doing to grow.
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