I’ll take a wild(!) guess and say that you are here because you have an interview coming soon and you want to learn how to answer one of the most commonly asked interview questions; “what are your weaknesses”.
In this article, you will find an amazing approach to this question along with more sample answers than you need. You are definitely on the right place. After all, 6,320+ career experts and universities who linked to this article can’t be wrong.
However, since I know that you have an interview coming soon or potentially unemployed, I thought to go extra mile and share with you an amazing gift; my MasterClass. This MasterClass video – linked below was exclusive to only my YouTube subscribers until now.
If you are serious about your career and passing that interview, you definitely don’t want to miss the opportunity of learning these exclusive tips. Some of the topics I cover are; How to pass HR interviews easily, Unwritten job requirements (hint: these are the primary reasons most candidates fail), what hiring managers are really looking for, and a lot more awesome tips including how to format your resume to gain an incredible advantage.
Now, allow me to deliver on my other promise and teach you how to answer what are your weaknesses interview question.
Let me start by saying your greatest weakness is your greatest weakness.
It’s not your greatest strength disguised as a weakness.
Let me explain why I just had to say that…
I have come across way too many HR professionals recommending that you should take your greatest strength, take it to the extreme, and then present that as your weakness to the interviewer.
Here are some examples they suggest:
- I work too hard... (Right...I'm sure you do)
- I am a perfectionist... (You know it's almost funny hearing everyone saying this in interviews)
- I don't delegate as much as I should... (This isn't the worst answer as far as bad answers go)
- I am very critical of my own work... (Uh, I feel sorry for you)
Seriously. If you mention one of the above weaknesses as 99% of the candidates do, what do you think will happen?
The hiring manager will immediately label you as a BS’er.
First things first, let me introduce myself. I am Deniz Sasal. I am a manager with PwC Consulting (PricewaterhouseCoopers) in our strategy consulting business unit. I am not HR. I am a Hiring Manager. I am sure you already know the difference. In case you don’t, here is a 1-liner; HR is the gatekeeper and Hiring Manager is the one whom you will be reporting to if you get the job.
Let’s start the topic;
In the world of consulting, we are challenged with deadlines and quality deliverables on a daily basis.
It’s tough out there.
This is same with any industry nowadays, be it investment banking, consumer goods, marketing, sales, anything. A successful company didn’t get to be number one with lazy employees.
Clients are demanding and competition is fierce. Whoever is not up to the challenge gets lost.
In these high-intensity environments, leaders need soldiers who will fight with them as one united team.
So, what’s my point?
There are no lies or cheats in such a team. There are no acts, no pretense.
So, when we are looking for new additions to such an environment, we make sure we can confidently trust you to deliver at the quality you committed to. There are no excuses, buts, uhmms, or what.
And if we’re going to be truthful and all… What are your weaknesses question is not about exposing your weaknesses or your shortcomings. It’s about giving you the opportunity to prove your honesty.
I hope I’m being clear when I say how honesty plays an integral role in your interview process of course while being careful about the impression you give. There is a fine line to walk here.
As hiring managers, we all have a checklist for character traits. And it goes like this:
- Is she trustworthy?
- Can she say sorry when she messes up? Can she learn from it and then move on with lessons learned?
- Is she honest?
- Is she motivated to work hard for the team?
If the answer is “YES” so far, only then do we move on to evaluate the hard skills.
It’s a mind game, at its best. You were asked a very simple question under pressure: What is your greatest weakness? If you can’t answer this honestly, you surely will not answer honestly once we start working together and I ask for that presentation you should have delivered in the morning.
Alright. I hope so far so good. You now know that the first thing you need to establish is honesty.
What is your greatest weakness? Let’s look at sample answers now
I can give you a million examples and show lists of weaknesses, but it would be difficult to tackle this topic without knowing your domain, background, and experience.
So, I will first share with you my very own weaknesses and perhaps you may also relate to some of them and use it for your own interview. If they don’t relate to you, don’t worry, I will give you more examples later below.
The examples below will give you a good idea of what to say when the interviewer asks you about your weaknesses. Please read through and then we will analyze.
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So, let’s analyze them.
What am I doing here? I’m giving you the weakness but then explaining that it’s really no big deal. In other words, the weakness is not something so great that it will fail me. So, while I am giving you honest answers, I am still being very careful of the impression I leave.
Let’s continue with more sample answers.
Here you go with more sample answers to “what are your weaknesses”;
May get overwhelmed
Although I am a fast learner, I can get overwhelmed if I need to learn too many things in a very short time.
Adapting to new tools
I sometimes have difficulty catching up with software tools we use at work. At my previous employer, we started with SAP, took me a good couple of months to learn the system, just when I thought I mastered it, we then changed to Oracle. I think I wasn’t as quick to adapt to the new system as some of my other colleagues.
I am a morning person. I perform incredibly well in the morning but then my performance gradually decreases as we progress in the day. As a result, I try not to schedule important meetings or presentations after 2 pm.
Obsessed with visuals
I am obsessed with getting visuals right in presentations. I have given my team a hard time in the past on this. Visuals are at least 50% of the work while developing a presentation. In fact, it’s only 50% of the work, yet, it gives 80% of the impact. So, you can understand why I am obsessed with it.
So, now, get to work. Start writing down all your weaknesses in an Excel list like below:
Once you finish the list, start evaluating based on the criteria below:
- Will mentioning this weakness hurt your chances?
- Is it something vital to your performance at work?
- Is it something not easily fixable if you work on it? (Certain weakness cannot be immediately fixed, like my lack of copywriting proficiency.)
Eliminate all those that you answered “Yes” to.
Once you finish the list, then I suggest you slidify them. Put your skills, strengths, and weaknesses in 1 neat PowerPoint slide. Take it out in the meeting and present it to the hiring manager. Trust me, it will work wonders. You will immediately realize his mood will change drastically. Yes, it’s that good.
Below is a good template you can use to list your weaknesses;
You can download the editable PPT version of the slides once you register here.
Hope you significantly benefited from this article as well as the MasterClass. If you haven’t had time to watch the MasterClass yet, I strongly recommend you don’t miss out on learning the exclusive strategies that will not only increase your chances of passing interviews but also let you open more doors.