You have several weaknesses. You are lazy, you are uncoordinated, you smell like cheese and you have a tendency to fall asleep on your desk and drool on important paperwork. For obvious reasons, you can’t tell the interviewer. These things need to stay between us and you. So when the interviewer asks you to come up with a biggest weakness, you need to supply them with an answer that satisfies their curiosity but doesn’t prevent you from getting the job. “I show up late” or “I have a tendency to punch my interviewers in the face for no reason” are both bad. So what weaknesses are acceptable answers for the job, and why?
Always Qualify Your Weakness
Before we begin, it is important to remind you that whenever you give a weakness, you should qualify it by what you have done since to ensure it doesn’t happen. For example “My biggest weakness is that I fart a lot when I’m nervous. I have since been taking Bean-O and working on my ability to hold my flatulence.” No matter what weakness you claim, always mention what you are doing to change it.
Examples of Biggest Weaknesses
- “I’m a perfectionist”
While we are placing this answer here, it is important to tell you – this answer is terrible. It’s just terrible. This is the type of answer you give when you are clearly BSing the interviewer, and they’re going to pick up on it. Don’t give this answer. Only give this answer if you forget all of the others. Your biggest weakness is you like things to be perfect? Please. It won’t kill your interview, but it’s not a satisfactory answer.
- “I have a tendency to keep quiet in large meetings.”
This is a great biggest weakness. Everyone experiences this feeling. There are people talking all around you and you don’t feel welcome to speak yourself. Employers will understand, and the weakness is not something that will kill your interview unless you are applying for a job as a meeting supervisor.
- “Sometimes I talk to myself when I work which can disrupt nearby staff.”
This is a great weakness, because it doesn’t imply anything negative about your work, only that you might make noises when you work. It implies you are actively working and lost in thought. Not a bad weakness at all.
- “Sometimes when I am actively engaged in a project, I can miss some of the noises around me. I have been told that I missed phone calls before because I was staring so intensely at the screen…”
Again, this type of weakness is essentially saying “I work too hard” without that perfectionism BS. Add a “I have since been turning the volume on my office phone louder in order to ensure that I hear it ringing” and you are all set.
- “I have a few food allergies that make it hard to have business meetings at restaurants.”
Again, this is a weakness that has simply nothing to do with the quality of work, and more to do with something no one cares about and many people can relate to. Obviously you should actually have one of these allergies and not be lying about it, but if you have one that’s a perfectly good out.
- “Sometimes I write emails that are longer than they need to be when I’m worried the person might not understand the email.”
We’ve all been there, and if we haven’t been there, we’ve received emails from people that are like that. Qualify the statement with “I am working on being more brief and to the point” and you are all set.
Only Use the Ones That Don’t Affect the Job
Weaknesses that may affect the job should not be listed. For example, if your job is going to involve non-stop emails, maybe you don’t want to use the email weakness example. As long as you choose one of the weaknesses above, you should adequately answer any “biggest weakness” questions, because none of the weaknesses will affect the quality of your work or your viability as an employee.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Give an actual weakness.
- Make the weakness extremely minor.
- Qualify the weakness with what you are doing to change it.