How to answer questions regarding weaknesses

We were recently contacted by a job seeker in Zambia looking for advice on how to answer one of the most difficult interview questions:

  • “What is your biggest weakness?”

In latest careers article from Go Zambia Jobs we explore several different approaches you can prepare in order to help you answer this question.

Why does the interviewer ask about weaknesses?

As with most interview questions the interviewer is trying to ascertain your suitability for the position. Furthermore, the interviewer may be trying to understand how aware you are of your own weaknesses and how much thought you have given to this area.

How to answer questions about weaknesses?

There are several approaches that you can take when determining how to answer this type of question:

  • Turn a negative into a positive
  • Show improvements that you have made
  • Provide a weakness that is non-essential to the role

1. Turn a negative into a positive

The first approach you could take is to provide an answer that turns a negative into a positive or put another way turns a weakness into a strength. For example, if a candidate is being interviewed for a role where attention to detail is a requirement they may answer that they have a tenancy to triple-check documents, contracts etc. In this way your weakness is actually viewed as a strength by the employer as these are actually skills required for this role.

2. Show improvements that you have made

The second approach is to identify a genuine weakness that you have and demonstrate how you have attempted to rectify this weakness. Many interviewers like this type of response as it demonstrates a level of self-awareness and shows that you are able to take personal responsibility for improving your skills. Consider the following examples:

  • A candidate might answer that they had difficulties putting together complex spreadsheets. However, they could then go on to say that they were aware of this weakness and were making steps to address this area (for example through formal or informal study).
  • A candidate might answer that they did not hold a current valid driver’s license and that this was their biggest weakness. However, they could go on to say that they were taking driving lessons and applying for a license in the near future.

3. Provide a weakness that is non-essential to the role

The third approach is to simply provide a weakness that is non-essential to the position. For example, if you were going for a junior position (such as an Accountants Trainee) you may say that your leadership skills have not yet been developed. As this is a junior position it is probably not a requirement of the job at this time. By identifying this weakness you demonstrate self-awareness and can then go on to talk about how you would like to improve in this area in the future.

Further Information

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