How to Answer ‘What is Your Weakness?’
Every interview we’ve been in asks it, but it’s hard to find good advice on how to answer it. ‘What is your weakness?’ should not be a difficult or scary question. In fact, it’s an opportunity to prove to an employer how awesome you are.
HERE ARE THE 5 STEPS TO ANSWERING THE WEAKNESS QUESTION:
1. Understand why they’re asking the question. The employer is asking to gauge your ability to identify areas where you can improve, and if you are actively trying to improve on those areas.
2. Identify your weakness. Think about times when you came up just short or failed. For example, when you set a goal, or had an assignment or deadline and came up just short. This can be as simple as failing to adhere to an offseason sports training regimen or missing a lab.
3. Understand why the failure occurred. What actions did you take, and more importantly, what actions did you not take? Why did you take or not take those actions?
4. Identify what to improve. From these examples, identify key traits you think you could improve upon.
5. Demonstrate how you’re improving. Think of ways you are working to overcome those ‘weaknesses.’ This is THE MOST CRITICAL part of answering the question. You want to show employers not just what your weaknesses are but that you are actively attempting to improve on them.
Here’s a great example of an answer we’ve heard in an interview
“In the past I’ve been overly quick to correct what I perceive as incorrect or sloppy work. For example, in a group project for Psychology last year, I spent a large amount of time constantly correcting and nitpicking rough drafts and even shooting down ideas constantly in brainstorming sessions, which ultimately demotivated the other group members. While this stems from a desire for everything to be perfect, expressing this perfectionism creates a less collaborative work environment. Now, I try to be far more conscious of when I may be doing this. In addition, I’ve asked friends and members of groups that I work in to point this out to me so I can continue correcting my behavior.” – Emily, University of San Francisco 2018