How to answer the question: what are your weaknesses?

What are your weaknesses? This question has been an integral part of interviews for a long time now. Yet it continues to catch unprepared interviewees off guard. Why do interviewers still pose this question? First, the answers to the question help them assess your character and temperament. Second, they can understand how you are able to analyze your own character flaws and see if you have made attempts to correct such flaws. Finally, the question is a sort of pressure tactic – interviewers know that the question is difficult to answer and they want to observe your performance under pressure. Note that interviewers can put forth the question “what are your weaknesses?” in many different ways.

Never lie

Good candidates never deny their weaknesses. If you say you have no weakness, employers are going to take the statement as false posturing. It’s important to be honest while being tactful. Also, it helps to do your research about the job in question thoroughly and answer this question diplomatically, by not mentioning weaknesses that might hamper your performance on the job.

Avoid the pitfalls of presenting strengths as weaknesses

Many people are tempted to evade the question by answering that they are perfectionists or that they are workaholics who do not know when to stop. Giving off strengths as weaknesses reeks of dishonesty and may do more damage than good. Always be prepared with a genuine weakness that is excusable rather than trying to deflect the question with answers that sound inauthentic.

No weakness is irrelevant, but..

It's okay if you are being hired for the position of an account manager and you mention that not exercising enough is one of your weaknesses, however, it shows your areas of focus. While to some managers, providing weaknesses irrelevant to the job may give the impression that you are not approaching the question with the seriousness, others might appreciate the honesty. It's important to assess the mood of the conversation before you answer.

 What is important for most interviewers who ask this question is your reaction to the question rather than the content of your answer. By preparing well ahead of the interview you can prevent losing your nerve when you hear the question. The key is to talk about weaknesses that can be improved upon by working on them and that provide you opportunities to show the interviewer that you have sincerely attempted to work on them in the past. In addition, you must be prepared for follow up questions to your answer and be ready to provide credible, legitimate answers to them.

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