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How Do You Talk About Your Weaknesses in an Interview?

Bonny Calfy | November 13, 2020

Your interview is going well so far. You’ve covered your work experience and touched on your skills, and things are looking positive. But it’s not over yet.

“Tell us about your weaknesses.”

Like its counterpart question (“What are your greatest strengths?”), interviewers use this question because they’re hoping to hear an honest assessment of where you think you could improve and, hopefully, how you plan to get there. Your next statement is either going to be a low point in your interview or an opportunity to shine. How will you handle it?

How to not strike out

The easiest way to craft a good answer is looking at the things to avoid.

Don’t rehearse your answer. Besides coming off as inauthentic, sticking with a prewritten, well-rehearsed answer is going to rob you of the chance to take advantage of any new talking points that might come up during the interview.

Don’t make an essential skill one of your weaknesses. If you’re interviewing for a position as an accountant, don’t say you’re terrible at math.

Don’t say you’re a perfectionist or work too hard. These are the go-to responses for candidates who not only lack any ability at introspection, but also lack the motivation to come up with an original answer.

Stick to work-related subjects. It seems obvious, but your personal life shouldn’t come to the office. If you focus on extracurricular issues during the interview, you’ll only leave the impression you’ll do the same thing during an average workday.

Hitting an interview home run

What should you do?

First and foremost, be honest. Your interviewer knows you’re not perfect, so there’s no need to make up something that will only come off as insincere. We all have places we’re hoping to improve, so just be genuine about your works in progress.

Everybody loves a success story. Use this as a chance to talk about how you were faced with a challenge, you developed a plan to respond and you overcame it (or at least are in the process of overcoming). Your interviewer will know more about you as a person and how you’re going to deal with adversity.

Focus on what’s next. How did that experience change you? What changes have you made that will help you cope with your next challenge? This isn’t just a story about how you had a bad day; it’s about improving.

Keep it short. Set up the situation, explain the challenge and focus on the resolution. You want them to remember how the story ends, not how they were checking their watch in the middle.

Asking about your weaknesses is a way to scope out your ability to deal with the next challenge you’ll face. You need to take it seriously because the job you’re interviewing for is that next challenge, and they want see if their potential newest coworker is going to sink or swim.

Would you like to see what new challenges are ready for tackling? Apply for a position at Paycom today!

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s recruitment marketing supervisor, Bonny Calfy writes about human capital management, company culture, talent acquisition, career advice and more. Her brand awareness efforts at Paycom have included launching the Paycom Careers blog and social media channels and producing several recruiting videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside of work, Bonny enjoys reading, fishing and spending time with her family.