One of the hardest questions you’ll be asked in a job interview is, ‘what are your weaknesses?’ This question undoubtedly strikes fear into the heart of even the bravest and most experienced career professionals. So what can you do to make things easier?

“The reason why this is so hard to answer is because you don’t want to give away any of your weaknesses to an employer in case it puts them off hiring you. ” – CV Template Master

The first step is to prepare five answers to this tough question. The employer may only ask for three, but better to be prepared for more. If you try and think of a few on the spot you are going to be left with egg on your face!

Before you create your answers it’s important to know that there are right and wrong ones. However, it would be impossible to go through all the potential examples as this is down to the individual. So instead, here are the 4 things you must avoid.

A good answer shows that you’re self-aware and able to critically analyse your own skills. It also shows that you’re willing to address your weaknesses, and that you can remain calm under pressure.” – Wikijob

Anything fundamental to the role

“You don’t want to respond with weaknesses that will prevent you from succeeding in the role. For instance, if you’re applying to be a project manager, you don’t want to admit,”I’m not very good with time management.” – Hubspot

If you give a weakness which would directly affect your ability to perform well in the role, you are committing career suicide. The interview might as well end right there and now!

Let’s say you were applying for a job as an accountant and you told the manager that you were bad with numbers, that would obviously drop like a bomb. This might be an exaggerated example to make the point, but you get the picture.

So avoid any kind of weakness which would indicate you’re the wrong person for the job. Focus instead upon something more generic, like being too blunt when sending emails or in meetings. Your weaknesses shouldn’t make the employer doubt your abilities to do the job if hired.

Off topic

It’s not a good idea to avoid this question or pretend that you’re perfect. The manager wants you to be honest and open about weaknesses and what you are doing about them. So don’t stray onto something else and try and divert their attention – it will be obvious!

Nobody’s perfect, and trying to avoid or deflect the question will frustrate the employer. But be transparent and you will reap the rewards. It shows the employer that you are able to admit your mistakes, which is important for your own development. Not only do you have to be honest with the employer, you also have to be honest with yourself if you want to progress in your career.

Can’t be fixed

Don’t give out a weakness that can’t be fixed. The employer is looking for someone who is able to continue their self development and move forward with the company. So choose something which clearly can be fixed and that you can work upon improving.

There are also two parts to answering this question. The first is providing a weakness as requested. The second is to explain how you are continuing to improve that weakness. By providing an answer that can’t be fixed or not even trying, you are probably going to end your chances of being hired.

Aren’t weaknesses

Don’t try to be smart and give an answer which isn’t actually a weakness. The employer wants the truth and not someone who cannot openly admit their faults. This attempt to dodge the question is common practice, and will only serve to frustrate the interviewer.

‘I work too hard’ and ‘I am such a perfectionist’ is too cliché. The employer has heard it all before and will see through your deceit. They want honest weaknesses and total transparency. Here are a few examples:

  • I sometimes take on too much work
  • I get frustrated when something goes wrong and I lose control of a situation
  • I lack experience in…
  • I sometimes lack confidence in…
  • I don’t always ask for help when I should

Final thoughts

This question is specially designed to test your ability to be honest and truthful about your own failings, mistakes or weaknesses. The employer doesn’t want to hire an overconfident and stubborn individual that fails to spot their own issues. This type of individual has no desire to improve their own abilities and could be prone to making constant mistakes.

Look past your own ego and pride to come up with some genuine weaknesses. Not only will this serve you better in a job interview, it will also help you to become a better employee.

Here’s a great video from Big Interview that looks at this topic further: