Responding to the Dreaded Interview Question: "What are Your Weaknesses?"

So you are all prepared for your job interview. You know the skills, strengths and experience you have to offer.  You have chosen what to wear: professional and not distracting to the eye.  You have the directions to the company and have planned out how to get there on time with bit to spare.  You know the questions you want to ask about the job at the end of the interview, but before you get there, the dreaded question may arrive: “So, what are your weaknesses?”

Is this a trick question?  Did they notice my black socks don’t quite match? Do I have poppyseeds between my teeth?  Or do they know I was laid off from a job a few years back?

What is most important is to prepare for this question in advance. Here are some tips for approaching this:

  1. Keep it professional: having an obsession with chocolate may indeed be your biggest weakness, but it most likely won’t impact your job performance unless you are working in a chocolate factory.
  2. Be clear concise: don’t spend too much air time on this.  Clearly state a weakness you have been working on.
  3. Show that you have taken action.  What matters most is that you are AWARE of your weaknesses, and have developed strategies to address and compensate for them.    “I have a tendency to…. so I have done ….. to address it.”

Here are some resources to navigate this territory.

Finally, don’t make an actual interview a practice session! Career Services counselors conduct mock interviews, via phone and in person. This is a great way to practice responding to a variety of interview questions and to debrief your interview skills before the real deal.


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