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How to Talk About Your Weaknesses in a Job Interview

Strength and Weaknesses in a Job Interview

During a job interview, your goal is to sell yourself. To accomplish this, you must first persuade the interviewer that you are qualified for the position, that you will bring value to the company, and that you have the type of personality that meshes well with others. Usually, you do this by explaining your relevant experience, highlighting your strengths, and showing enthusiasm. But what do you say when the interviewer asks the inevitable job interview question: “Tell me about your weaknesses?”

The appropriate answer to this job interview question of weaknesses is often debated; however, it is commonly asked. We spoke with Director of Strategic Sales Quinn Heimann who has over a decade of staffing experience. She’s helped numerous people improve their interviewing skills. She offers the following advice about how to speak to your weaknesses during a job interview and gives real examples of weaknesses to say in a job interview. 

Should I Talk About Weaknesses in Job Interviews?

Everyone has weaknesses and communicating otherwise might come off as disingenuous. If asked about your weaknesses, view it as a chance to show that you’re honest, provide authentic insights into your personality, and exhibit that you’re self-aware and interested in growing to improve your knowledge and performance. 

“Avoiding talking about a weakness can be a weakness. Employers want to see candidates who are self-aware and who are willing to admit where they have room to grow and develop. Candidates who put on a “perfect” front/attitude are often regarded as difficult, close-minded, and unaware,” says Heimann.

Remember that if you’re being interviewed for a job, the employer is already interested. They’d just like to meet you in person and get to know you better. Discussing your weaknesses can help your interviewer get a better understanding of your experience and personality to give them confidence in their decision to hire you. 

How Honest Should You Be in A Job Interview 

Honesty is a good policy, but remember you want to come off as professional and qualified too. A good rule of thumb is to be able to elaborate on anything you have listed in your resume. Did you list a skill with a software program? Be prepared to explain what you used it for. Did you get certified in operating equipment outside the scope of your job? Explain its value without embellishing. 

“The golden rule here is true: Honesty is the best policy when it comes to job interview questions. If you sell a future employer on skills or experience that you don’t have, you’re starting off in a new role several steps behind where you should be. You will always feel like you are trying to catch up or “fake it until you make it” — and your employer will too. To find a career fit where you are going to be happy — you want to start off on an honest foot. Also, companies typically know within the first few weeks if you were honest about your experience or not. Being dishonest about your experience is a major red flag for your long-term potential there,” says Heimann.

For each skill or experience on your resume, come up with a potential learning experience or something you could have improved upon. That software you listed — did you struggle with the learning curve? Did the project you started take a little longer than you expected? Explain why, how you handled it, and the lessons learned. Show how you improved, and how it can better prepare you for this position you’re interviewing for. If possible, position your approach to tackle weaknesses as an opportunity to strengthen your problem-solving and troubleshooting skills. 

How to Talk About Your Weaknesses in a Job Interview

Remember, don’t embellish. When asked about a weakness — either about yourself or in an experience — it’s always better to start honest and end with a strength. We repeat being honest because interviewers and recruiters can pick up on fabricated stories. 

The best way to be genuine is to carefully review your resume and think of a few potential weaknesses you can discuss. Or ask a friend if they can spot any. We’ll talk about some specific examples next. 

Good Examples of Weaknesses for Job Interviews

Finding potential weaknesses to discuss in a job interview requires some introspection and self-awareness. To help give you a little insight and inspiration, we’ve provided a few examples of weaknesses for job interviews below. 

1. “I could use more experience with….”

This statement not only shows self-awareness, but it also gets right to transforming the weakness into an opportunity. Think about a skill that might benefit the employer, and express enthusiasm in wanting to learn it. 

2. A weakness unrelated to the position 

This is a “safe” weakness to say in a job interview. If you’re applying for a position in carpentry, you could safely talk about a weakness in public speaking or writing, because those skills aren’t relevant enough to affect your success in the position. 

3. Self-Critical 

Most people can relate to being ambitious and tough on themselves. Explaining an instance of being self-critical provides an honest weakness with more insight into your (ambitious) personality. Most employers would prefer an introspective employee over a lackadaisical one. 

4. Keep it concise and professional

Heimann strongly suggests avoiding telling long rambling stories that may involve too much personal information. Also, try not to speak too negatively about your past manager or coworkers.

“Avoid long, lengthy stories or anything that would “bad mouth” someone else. Keep things concise and to the point,” says Heimann.

What To Avoid with Weaknesses in Job Interviews

You will want to avoid embellishing and lying in your interviews. Interviewers just want to hear more about your personality/experience, and what you took from it. You don’t need to provide extreme details about who was involved or sound self-pitying. Instead, simply explain the scenario. And be sure to end on a strong note explaining how you improved on the weakness. 

“Discussing weaknesses that don’t apply to your professional life (like relationship issues or poor money management) should be avoided. For example, if you are interviewing for a maintenance manager position and know you have a type A personality that struggles to let go of something until it is done right, I would answer that you sometimes struggle to delegate work to others because your personality is one where you want things done correctly the first time and always on time. Learning to help teach others and manage through delegation is a skill you are working on as a result,” suggests Heimann. 

Why Is It Important To Acknowledge Your Weaknesses in a Job Interview?

Being asked about strengths and weaknesses is a common job interview question. First, if you don’t acknowledge a weakness, it shows a lack of self-awareness, preparation, or reluctance. All of these can be seen as red flags. The exact answer you give will vary based on your personality and experience, but you must acknowledge and answer the question. Saying you don’t have a weakness, or not providing one, could be off-putting to an interviewer. 

Interested in Learning More About How to Answer Job Interview Questions?

Visit Aerotek’s website for more advice about interviewing, and while you’re there, be sure to check out our job board! We wish you the best of luck at your next interview!