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How to Answer “What is your Greatest Weakness? TheEmployable Interview Tips

How to Answer “What is your Greatest Weakness?…

One of the more predictable interview questions that is often asked at interview is also one of the most dreaded by every interviewee. Yes, that old chestnut “ So can you tell me / us what is your greatest weakness? ” As a question it is asked primarily to see exactly how self aware you are and also to see if you can be honest about yourself to other people.

No matter what answer you give, the interviewer will more than likely have heard it before. This question does tend to bring out answers that can be quite cliché ridden. But that can’t really be helped. After all, the question itself is hardly original!
As “what is your greatest weakness”  is still a question that you should consider preparing an answer for,  we thought we would put together some basic tips to help you when doing just that.

Pick a weakness that you had in the past
With this type of response, you are not only showing self awareness, but also showing how you can recognise weaknesses and do something about them. You could for example state that in the past you had not been particularly good at something and had discussed this with your manager and had sought to improve, perhaps by doing a course, some additional training or work shadowing. Ultimately you are saying that whilst this is something that you don’t particularly excel at, you have recognised your shortcomings and sought to remedy them.

Choose a weakness that can be overcome
Following on from the previous example, if you can identify a weakness that you are currently trying to overcome through self development or training, as long as the weakness in question is not something that is absolutely essential to the job you have applied for, this can be a good option. For example, you may have a lot of experience in different spreadsheet packages but are not as competent in one in particular and consequently have started a course to improve your knowledge and skills. This shows the interviewer that you are attempting to overcome a weakness and that you are on a mission to improve.

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4 Responses to “How to Answer “What is your Greatest Weakness? TheEmployable Interview Tips”

  1. That question can strike fear into the heart of most confident of interviewees! As a recruiter, I try to word the question slightly differently and put a positive spin on it, so once we have passed the ‘strengths’ question I then move on to ‘so what about your areas for development’? This sounds less harsh than ‘weakness’ which I think is a rather negative word. As an interviewer it is great to hear a candidate be honest and follow up their answer with how they are working to overcome that particular development area as this shows that not only are they aware of it but they are taking a proactive stance in trying to improve themselves.

    Posted by Nicki White | March 12, 2012, 1:25 pm
  2. Another 1have heard which is not so negative is on Perfection, that he/she doesnt give up, in the pursuit of prefection, which at times leads to stress..
    Some people give responses on personal front, if the question is not directed clearly on professional weaknesses, eg- Spend more time with kids education, Or take up some sports.
    Since I am into hiring, come across many cases where the candidate believes that he/ she doesnt have any weaknesses/ areas of improvements. Welcome to Utopia!

    Posted by piyusha | March 13, 2012, 9:58 am
  3. The worse-ever ‘weakness’ declared at interview is “Oh, I’m afraid I work too hard and don’t know when to stop”. FAIL.
    For a start, it sounds trite. I don’t believe that ingratiating rubbish. And, if for a chance, it is true that you don’t stop, I’m going to have concerns for your health and well-being, that here in Europe may end up costing me in subsequent employee support and benefits. FAIL again.
    Any ‘weakness’ declared is better started by the phrase “I’m aware that I tend to…”, which is what we want to know anyway: are you self-aware?

    Posted by Mike Allen | March 14, 2012, 11:34 pm


  1. […] employers may ask this question in conjunction with asking you about your greatest weakness. Click here to find some tips on how to answer that particular […]

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