How to Talk About Your Weaknesses in a Job Interview

Blog / How to Talk About Your Weaknesses in a Job Interview

Tips for Putting a More Positive Light on Things You Need to Improve On

“What are your greatest strengths?”

“Tell me about your weaknesses?”

How many times have you heard these classic job interview questions?

That first one is a softball question. The interviewer is giving you an opportunity to talk about how amazingly perfect you would be for this position.

Telling an interviewer about your shortcomings without sounding like you wouldn’t be a good fit for the job is tricky–but it can be done!

Here are some tips to help you talk about your weaknesses in a job interview without blowing your shot at the job.

Approach with Caution

Your approach to discussing your weaknesses in a job interview is key. You ultimately want to discuss your weaknesses in a way that helps you gain ground rather than lose it. Keep in mind that what the interviewer really wants to know from this question is how you handle adversity on the job.

When preparing for this question in a job interview, think about the limitations that have challenged you at work. It’s a good idea to gather a list of your known shortcomings by going over past performance evaluations and notes from your supervisors about areas for improvement.

Then be sure to thoroughly research the employer and the open job posting so that you don’t identify something as a deficiency that is essential to the job.

Avoid This in Your Answer

No one is perfect. Never tell an interviewer that you have no weaknesses because they will write you off as someone with a lack of self-awareness or who is overconfident and unable to understand and learn from their mistakes.

And don’t just take a positive trait and frame it as a weakness–the interviewer is on to that too. Classic examples include, “I’m a perfectionist,” “I’m competitive,” or, “I just work too hard.”

While some of these are stock answers, they can still be effective if you add details relevant to show that you have actually put real thought into it. Let’s get into that.

Reframe the Narrative

So you can’t claim you are perfect, but you also don’t want to make yourself look bad or give a stock example with no explanation. The key is to reframe your weakness in a more positive light by showing how you recognize where you need to make improvements, and how you can transform your weakness into a strength.

For example, you could say something along the lines of, “I hold myself to very high standards and sometimes put too much pressure on myself. I’ve learned to recognize when I’m doing this; such as spending too much time on a particular project, and am able to keep myself in check and on track.” This shows that you have self-awareness and that you have the ability to learn and grow.

Some other examples of ways you can improve yourself to address a weakness include:

  • Taking a class or getting some training
  • Working with a mentor
  • Using tools to help you stay organized and on-task
  • Engaging in volunteer work to build a skill
  • Joining a professional group or industry association

Remember, it’s all about emphasizing the positive and avoiding words like failure or inept while also focusing on your own self-awareness and growth. Your interviewer will see that you are someone that can grow in the position and at the company!