Job interview weaknesses: how to answer this question

One of the standard questions during a job interview is the question about your weaknesses. Often they first ask about your strong points, and then follow that by the question about your weak points. Naturally you would prefer not to tell them about any weaknesses you may have, as this may influence the job application procedure in a negative way. But you need to find a way to give a neat answer to this question without leaving a bad impression with your interviewer.

The reason for this question

Before we tell you more about the best way to answer this job interview question about weaknesses, it is important that you understand more about the reason for this question. Most people think that the underlying reason for the question is simply to find out more about the candidate, but there is another important reason. Your interviewer wants to know if you know yourself well and if you have already gotten to know any of your weak points, and in particular what it is that you have done about these weaknesses. By asking you what your weaknesses are, your interviewer will gain a clear picture of your self-knowledge and personal development. The question therefore is not aimed only at getting to know you but also to test your self-knowledge and personal development.

Good answers to the job interview question about weaknesses

When they ask you the question about what your weak points are, there are three smart ways to answer this question.

  • Mention a bad quality that can actually also be interpreted in a positive way. If you are a perfectionist for example, you can list this as one of your weaknesses, because perfectionism can also be interpreted as a good quality.
  • Tell them about a weak point that is not relevant for the job you are applying for. If you are applying for a position as a copywriter for example, you can tell them you are not very good in mathematics.
  • Mention a bad quality that is actually quite useful for the job you are applying for. If you are applying for a very dynamic position that involves a lot of travel and a very busy schedule, you can mention that you have trouble sitting still, for example.

Poor answers to the job interview question about weaknesses

There are good ways to answer the question, but also some less fortunate ways. For example, if you say you have no weak points, your interviewer may conclude that you have no self-knowledge at all, or that you are supremely arrogant. If you answer the question about what your weaker points are by telling them you are aggressive, lazy or arrogant, you will obviously also not make a very good impression.

How to give the right answer

The easiest way to answer the question about your weaknesses well is by telling them about a weak point but modifying it into a good quality. For example: “I sometimes take on too much work, because I want the work to be carried out conscientiously and correctly. In my previous job I learnt to delegate more responsibility and to make more use of the expertise of other employees.” In this example, you first acknowledge a weak point, then modify the weak point and also show them how you have been learning to deal with your weak point.




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