How to best answer the interview question, ‘What is your greatest weakness?’

Don't let this popular interview question trip you up. Here’s how to form a successful response to this prompt that will impress hiring managers and assure you that job.


KT Team

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Published: Tue 28 Feb 2023, 11:57 AM

Last updated: Mon 13 Mar 2023, 12:47 PM

What do you think is your greatest weakness? For many, this is a curveball during interviews. While all of us have flaws, few of us would like to divulge them in a setting as high-pressure and high-stakes as a job interview, but not answering the question might portray you as ingenuine and/or uncooperative. It is a thin line, but once you master a suitable, in-between approach and read our interview tips, you will know how best to answer this question.

Interviewers pose this question not only to gain insight into your weaknesses but also to gauge your level of perception, self-esteem, and self-awareness. It takes strength and humility to identify flaws in yourself and even more strength to admit them to an interview committee. So, while answering this question, always be honest while also being strategic. If you’re interviewing for a secretarial role, don’t mention organization to be your weakness. If yours is a customer service role, communication or patience should most definitely not be your answer. Always choose weaknesses that are relevant but non-essential to the role you’re interviewing for.

The way you frame the answer to questions like these is also very crucial. For instance, inspect these two answers and identify which candidate you’d be more inclined to select for the next round.

What is your greatest weakness?

“I procrastinate a lot and end up missing deadlines as a result.”

“Procrastination. While I’m not very timely, I’ve realized that maintaining weekly to-do lists and a list of all upcoming tasks and projects has me feeling more accountable and on top of my business. The Pomodoro technique of managing time is also greatly helping me be timely and fulfil all my deadlines.”

The answer might be about a negative trait but giving it a positive spin while also suggesting resolutions that indicate progress points to the fact that you’re open, aware, and willing to work on your perceived weaknesses. Do not overly criticize or be too harsh on yourself. Remember that the interviewer is not looking for perfection in you as a candidate but rather awareness, modesty, and a growth mentality. Avoid cliched answers like ‘I work too hard.’ or ‘I’m a perfectionist’ and choose a less-pervasive weakness that is easy to resolve.

Here are a few examples of answers that will help you stand out in an interview:

- My greatest weakness is that I am not as confident in public speaking as I would like to be. However, through public speaking courses and active practice, I’ve gotten better and continue to keep at it.

- I can sometimes be a little impatient, especially when it comes to waiting for feedback or results. But I’ve managed to practice more patience and mindfulness by focusing on the things and outcomes I can control.

- I have a tendency to get too focused on details, which can slow down my progress on projects. But I’ve recently realized that the trick to solving this myopia is through delegating projects effectively and by dividing my workday into smaller deadlines that I ought to stick to. This has made it much easier to quicken my progress and workflow.

- I tend to take up too much responsibility at once, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed. However, I have learned to prioritise tasks better and communicate with my team when I need help to ensure that I am not spreading myself too thin.

- I would like to be more of an expert in [specific software]. While I’m far from learning all of it, online tutorials and taking help from the right sources have taken me closer to my goal.

While there are no right or wrong answers to this question, some answers might score more points than some others. If you’re new to the UAE job market and need a quick refresher on how to answer common interview questions like these, remember that most of the time, employers are often interested in how you present and phrase the answers just as much as the answers themtself.

For more interview questions and answers, click here.

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