Interviews: How to Answer the Question 'What's Your Biggest Weakness?'

8 February 2023

It’s finally happening – you’ve impressed the employer of your dream job and have made it to the final stages of the hiring process. All that’s left is to win them over once and for all at the face-to-face interview. 

For it to be a success, a candidate must prepare well. This means taking the time to research the company and prepare answers for the tough interview questions – the most gruelling of all being ‘what are your weaknesses?’.  

Almost every employer will ask this question. And while you shouldn't say something like ‘I don’t have any weaknesses’ as that will suggest you lack self-awareness and sincerity, you also don’t want to talk yourself down and give the impression you aren’t capable of succeeding in the role. Finding the right balance in your answer can be hard, but it's not impossible. 

How To Craft The Perfect Answer To ‘What Are Your Weaknesses?’

When an employer asks about weaknesses, what they’re really asking is if you possess a healthy level of self-awareness, and a willingness to learn and grow as a professional. They don’t expect perfection; they want to see if you can recognise your shortcomings, and how resourceful and proactive you are in overcoming them. Below are some ways you can clearly demonstrate this in your answer. 

Choose a weakness that won’t stop you from succeeding in the role. It goes without saying, the skills listed in the job description should not be used as your weaknesses. For example, if you’re applying to be a graphic designer, don’t say creativity, communication or tech skills are something you need to work on. Instead, you might say you sometimes get too caught up on small details, as this isn’t specifically linked to the duties of the role. Remember, you’re trying to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job, and saying you need to improve on an essential skill will cause them to question your ability to perform well in your new role. 

Explain how you can work on your weaknesses. Don’t just describe your struggles, explain how you plan to work on them. For example, could you ask your supervisor for extra training, or find a colleague who can teach you about new software you’re unsure of? Is there an online course you can complete, or a qualification that you can gain? This demonstrates that you’re self-aware enough to see where you need to grow as a professional and that you will use your resources at work to do so. 

Provide an example of how you have overcome a weakness. If you can’t think of anything you currently struggle with, talk about a task or skill you once found difficult. Go back to the early stages of your career. Maybe you didn’t understand how to interpret a sales analysis report, or how to code data. Go into detail about how you overcame this weakness, and the confidence it gave you to tackle new challenges. This shows the employer that you’re a highly adaptable worker who can learn new skills quickly and effectively. 

Don’t be arrogant or underestimate yourself. It's important to show confidence in how you talk about your weaknesses. Be optimistic when you’re explaining what you need to work on. This will give the assurance to the employer that your struggles aren’t a negative quality and that you’re constantly working to improve them.