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Blue Sky Resumes is a small team of professional writers and job search experts. We offer one-of-a-kind resumes, smart career advice and fantastic customer service. This is our blog.


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How to answer the “what is your greatest weakness?” interview question


The ‘what is your greatest weakness?’ question is one we all dread – right up there with ‘so tell me about yourself.’ Frankly “what is your greatest weakness” is a pretty pointless question as it rarely gets an honest response, but nevertheless, it’s a question you are very likely to be asked.

So what do you say? Obviously you don’t want to say anything that hurts your chances of getting the job, but you have to answer.

Faced with this dilemma, many job seekers make the mistake of trying to spin a positive as a negative. They’ll say things like “I guess sometimes I care too much about doing a great job” or “I definitely work too hard.”

Interviewers are ready for these answers, and see them as dishonest (which of course they are). But don’t despair – there is a way to answer that is both honest and effective. Here’s my two-step approach to the weaknesses question

1. Select a weakness that you know isn’t important for this particular job.

Let’s say you are going for a job as a marketing manager. If you say that web analytics is a weakness, you may be mentioning something that the interviewer thinks is very important. Instead choose something that you know won’t be part of your job responsibilities. For example, “I find it quite challenging to speak in front of a big group of people” or “My Excel skills aren’t as strong as I’d like.”

Of course, this mean you’ll need to prepare for this question by reading the job description or job posting through carefully so that you understand what’s important for the role.

2. Immediately follow-up with an example of how you’re working to address this weakness (or how you would like to).

For example, if you actually have done some work to improve, you could say something like: ‘In my last job, I started making presentations to internal groups in order to get better and I definitely feel I improved.’ Or ‘I bought a self-study book on Excel and I’ve been working through it in my spare time. I’ve learned a lot but still have more to go.”

If you haven’t done anything to address the weakness, don’t lie. Instead just say “this is an area I’d like to improve upon and I’d be interested in any opportunities to make presentations so I could build my confidence.” Or “If Excel is important in this role, I’d be more than happy to spend the next few weeks studying from a self-help book. I’m a quick learner.”

This two-step approach really works

By answering in this way, you’ve told potential employers that you have humility and self-awareness along with a willingness to learn and grow. That’s really all the ‘what is your greatest weakness’ question is designed to uncover.

Read more about Interviewing.

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About the Author

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. Her industry experience includes music, video games, fashion and advertising. She lived and worked in the US for many years, but moved back to her native UK in 2012, where she now lives in the Yorkshire countryside. In addition to her full-time role with Blue Sky, she's a professional artist, so you can imagine why she couldn't answer the 'what do you do with your free time' question! Contact Louise by email.

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3 comments on “How to answer the “what is your greatest weakness?” interview question”

  1. Constance says:

    Thank you so much for bringing up this topic. I believe lots of job seekers have encountered this part of interview many time and dont know how to approach it including me.Now I can work confidently into any interview room ready to answer this kind of question.Thanks once again.

  2. kenneth says:

    The particular question took me unawares during my last interview and I just didnt know what to say. Just want to say a big thank you to the writer for bringing this up.

  3. Sarai Hansen says:

    Interviewing can be a tricky and overwhelming especially with questions such as these. I’ve found being open and honest about a weakness will do you much more benefit than being vague and insincere. A great way to avoid being caught off guard by questions like these, is to do some pre-interview practice.

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