How to Answer: What Are Your Weaknesses?
Here are some tips to help you nail this interview question.
Pick a weakness that doesn’t affect your ability to do the job.
Narrow down your answer to only your biggest weakness. Since the interviewer is really looking for candidates who are self-aware and proactively trying to improve, talking about one main issue will give you a chance explain the steps you’ve taken to address the problem and, more importantly, not give the interviewer a reason to turn you down.
The weakness you pick shouldn’t take away from your ability to do the job or to fit in with the company, but it also shouldn’t come across as unrealistic or staged. Don’t say something like, “I’m too much of a perfectionist.” Your interviewer probably won’t believe it (this is no one’s biggest weakness) and it doesn’t give you a lot of room to elaborate on how you’ve taken actionable steps to address the issue. Instead, focus on the things you’ve struggled with in the past, like managing your time when you a have a busy class schedule, not speaking up for yourself during a class project, or not asking for help when you need it.
Pro Tip: Keep this focused and concise. You want to give the interviewer the sense that you’re self-aware, but you don’t want to dwell on all the ways your weakness has held you back. Try to frame your weakness in one sentence.
Walk through the steps you’ve taken to address the problem.
Once you’ve opened up about your weak point, demonstrate your ability to problem-solve by talking about how you’ve worked through the problem and mention some of the successes you’ve had as a result. End on a positive note and, if possible, tie the positive outcome back to the job you’re interviewing for.
Say something like: “I’ve always loved connecting with people and I tend to do that very well in person. However, my writing skills aren’t as strong as I would like them to be over email and in proposals. I’ve taken a writing class and I’ve seen my writing improve, but it’s something that I still need to work on. To make sure that I’m actively addressing the problem, I always ask for feedback when writing papers for class, and I include at least one English class in my schedule every semester. Although writing is one of my weaknesses, I’m taking active steps to get better and I know that I can become a good writer if I keep working on it.”
Although identifying your weak points might be a bit uncomfortable at first, answering “What are your weaknesses?” is a great opportunity to show that you’re able to identify and address problems in a proactive way. This is a skill that employers always look for and something that will help you stand out in a pool of other candidates.
Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What to Do When You Want a Second Job Offer and find answers to common interview questions such as Would You Describe Yourself as a Leader or a Follower?