How to Answer “What is your biggest weakness?” Interview Question

January 1st, 2009 by lewis

In this blog post, Examiner.com discusses a popular job interview question: “What is your biggest weakness?” Talking about one’s shortcomings is never fun.  But look at this as an opportunity to demonstrate self-awareness as well as self-confidence in one’s flaws.

If you have a readily apparent weakness, discuss how you’ve addressed it and why it won’t be an issue in the job.  For example, if you’re a non-native English speaker, you might want to mention your accent as a weakness.  Hopefully you’ve already demonstrated that an accent hasn’t prevented you from communicating effectively and getting your point across during the interview.  And let’s say you participate in your local Toastmasters Club, a worldwide, nonprofit organization committed to helping over 200,000 people to improve their public speaking, then mention it!  The interviewer will be impressed by your commitment to improving your weakness.


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27 Responses to “How to Answer “What is your biggest weakness?” Interview Question”

  1. June 03, 2009 at 1:28 pm, Anonymous said:

    I'm a long time recruiter and owner or of a permanent placement agency and this is a question I always coach my candidates to be prepared for. The way I prepare my candidates is to have them think of a weakness that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with work. Example: Maybe you're the kind of person who gets lost easily or has difficulty speaking to large groups of people. These are things that could be considered weaknesses but the kind of things that are not going to affect your job performance (as long as the above examples wouldn't impact the job being interviewed for). There are more examples that, of course, depend on what the job is but each person could come up with their own that would have nothing to do with the job. DO NOT give the interviewer an example of somethnig a previous employer told you was a weakness. I know that sounds obvious but I have had people repond to me with something like "My last boss said one of my weaknesses was… whatever the weakness is.) No matter how insignificant it may seem, unless you know for sure that the interviewer is not going to de-select you for the position over the example you give, don't use it. Be safe and use something completely unrelated to the job. Good luck and happy hunting! Mike Riley, Pres, Lighthouse Search Group.

    Reply

    • April 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm, Frisky said:

      Thank you! That’s very useful!

      Reply

    • December 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm, Flo said:

      Thanks,
      This is the best answer I’ve found on the internet. You should write a book about this. Noone wants to admit to weaknesses, but the way you explained it works.

      Reply

  2. June 18, 2009 at 10:11 am, Anonymous said:

    I always take one of my strengths and twist it by calling it a weakness. I say that when I'm faced with a problem that isn't easily solved, I sometimes stubbornly persist at trying to solve it to the point that I'm too focused to see the solution. I then mention that with experience, I've learned to recognize when I'm beating my head up against a brick wall and so I stop, take a walk, go do something else, clear my head, and usually the solution comes to me.

    Persistence isn't perceived as a flaw, but calling it stubborness, in this context, helps me pull it off as one. So far, this answer's worked pretty well for me.

    Reply

  3. June 24, 2009 at 11:38 pm, ziv said:

    When it comes to answering questions, the best bet is to answer the question honestly and to the point providing a real personality character. Many interviewees tend to make up an answer using a ‘well-known answer’ as their weakness or strength. The interviewer easily notice these type of answers, as he had probably heard that answers hundreds of times before..

    Reply

  4. August 02, 2009 at 2:34 pm, Anonymous said:

    Accent for foreigners is a good one

    Reply

  5. November 05, 2009 at 7:59 am, jb said:

    chocolate is my weakness

    Reply

    • July 19, 2011 at 2:47 pm, theNone said:

      bwahaha EPIC!

      Reply

  6. December 04, 2009 at 12:12 pm, Andy Robinson said:

    We all have weaknesses. Some could be "fatal" weaknesses with respect to the job at hand, but many are likely NOT fatal weaknesses.

    Choose a non-fatal weakness — one that's been part of your personal history BUT one that you've also focused SIGNIFICANT TIME and EFFORT on improving. Discuss all the things you've done to improve upon that weakness — be specific. Talk about how you HAVE improved — give specific examples.

    Show that you both understand your weaknesses (self knowledge is a desired trait in an employee-to-be) AND have the motivation and self-direction to work hard to either overcome them or significantly mitigate them (another highly desired trait for a potential employee).

    This is always a tough question for people to answer.

    Reply

  7. February 12, 2010 at 3:04 pm, Joe Perez said:

    Great answer, Lewis. As I noted on my blog post today, I would add that this question is an opportunity for the interviewee to demonstrate their self-awareness and connect with their interviewer.

    Reply

  8. May 20, 2011 at 8:27 am, Michael said:

    My biggest weakness? It’s “Kryptonite” !

    Reply

  9. June 20, 2011 at 6:49 am, Pawan sheoran said:

    everyone has the weakness but we know it from others that, this is your weakness but i am believe in that different thinking of different people so it not confirm about weakness.

    Reply

  10. August 02, 2011 at 11:18 pm, Richard said:

    My biggest weakness is that I do not know how to answer cliche’ stock questions that do nothing to allow me to demonstrate my skills, level of commitment nor my job performance.

    Reply

    • August 05, 2011 at 10:16 pm, Scott said:

      If someone actually said that to me on an interview I would hire them on the spot without asking another question. But… I’m guessing it would have the opposite effect with most others.

      Reply

    • August 08, 2011 at 2:13 pm, Lauren said:

      Finally, Richard! Somebody finally said it!!!!!!! I have an interview tomorrow, and I am very tempted to say that. Very tempted…I don’t understand why recruiters or anybody has an interest in asking questions that are only going to generate false answers.

      Reply

    • December 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm, jerrod said:

      It is cliche, but could be completely relevant depending on the structure or organization of the work environment and for individuals who are specifically hiring someone as part of a team. Being able to assess strengths/talents and weaknesses when creating a team is important. You being self-aware enough to be able to articulate those aspects of yourself could be important to the interview/position, depending on the situation.

      Reply

    • February 16, 2012 at 5:45 am, Winneth said:

      My thoughts exactly!

      Reply

  11. August 23, 2011 at 4:05 am, Tolu said:

    weakness ? …too nice

    Reply

  12. September 05, 2011 at 10:42 pm, Arif said:

    Once I was asked and I said: First of all I call it area of improvement instead of weakness(guess some of you might have heard it before :P). Its getting involved in too many things at the same time and trying to complete everything together.

    How did I improve: I learnt that the hoax of multitasking actually reduces the qualitative work done. So instead of doing multi-tasking I learnt to prioritise.

    Howzzaaat.

    Reply

    • May 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm, abcde said:

      NIIIIIICE!!!

      Reply

  13. September 20, 2011 at 8:32 am, stameagh said:

    my biggest weakness is waking up and coming to work. i hate it.

    Reply

  14. October 12, 2011 at 9:02 pm, Quora said:

    What’s the best response when an interviewer asks you what your weaknesses are?…

    Here’s an excerpt from my blog post, “How to Answer the What is Your Biggest Weakness?” (http://www.impactinterview.com/2009/01/how-to-answer-what-is-your-biggest-weakness-interview-question/). If you’re curious to see how Barack Obama answers this…

    Reply

  15. April 19, 2012 at 5:39 am, Roselle P. said:

    As a human being we do usually makes mistakes,my weakness is my mistakes which I improve it through by time.As they say learn from your mistakes makes your life goes and do the usual things.

    Reply

  16. July 05, 2012 at 8:12 am, Marl said:

    In instances where team work is a priority saying that helping everyone at the same time could be a good answer. Same as Richard mentioned previously, you fix it by prioritizing your help according to circumstances.

    Reply

  17. January 22, 2013 at 6:24 pm, Hotel Primer said:

    I was at an interview the other day… and this is what I said

    Sometimes, I spend more time than necessary on a task, or take on tasks personally that could easily be delegated to someone else. Although I’ve never missed a deadline, it is still an effort for me to know when to move on to the next task, and to be confident when assigning others work.

    How about that!!!

    Reply

    • November 14, 2013 at 8:16 am, Nabie said:

      I love it!! good answer

      Reply

  18. November 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm, Matteo said:

    Interviwer: What is your greatest weakness?
    Interviewee: Honesty
    Interviewer: That’s an interesting response, although I fail to see how that is a weakness?
    Interviewee: I don’t give a f*** what you think…

    Reply

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