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How Do You Talk About Your Weaknesses in an Interview?

Bonny Calfy | April 10, 2023

“What’s your biggest weakness?”

This classic interview question seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? An interview is supposed to be an opportunity to discuss your strengths and accomplishments. Why would anyone want to talk about something they don’t do well?

But in a labor market where more than 60% of currently employed workers are looking to change jobs, the competition is fierce and having a good answer is more important than ever.

It’s a great interview question for a very good reason. For recruiters, this question provides a window into a candidate’s mindset and approach to their own growth. More than ever, employers want well-rounded candidates, and this question helps them see how a prospective employee handles their own shortcomings.

How will you answer? We’ve prepared a few do’s and don’ts so you can turn discussing your weaknesses into one of your strengths!

Don’t be too positive or too generic

Interviewers ask about your weaknesses to see if you can identify facets of yourself needing improvement and what you’re doing to make that happen. It’s meant to be introspective, and your answer should reflect the self-analytical nature of the question.

Interviews should be flexible moments where you can present yourself in the best possible light, so hard and fast rules rarely apply. This case, however, presents an exception. Do not respond with “I work too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist.” Answers like these show interviewers that your main weakness is a lack of self-awareness or that you haven’t sufficiently prepared for the interview.

You want to stand apart from the crowd because you have good answers, not lazy ones. So what is a good answer? We’re glad you asked, job hunter!

Do be specific and offer concrete examples

Being able to clearly identify your faults and recognize them as they affect real-life situations demonstrates a high level of self-awareness. Be prepared with one or two examples of where this weakness presented itself during the course of your work. Try to stick with a fairly recent example, as your interviewer wants to get to know the most current version of you.

Do explain how you addressed your weaknesses

When answering a question about your weaknesses, remember that a good answer will always have two parts: being able to identify your shortcoming and describing what you did to address the problem. Having the ability to identify your weaknesses is admirable, but if you do nothing to remedy them, that’s a problem.

Don’t worry if you haven’t completely solved the issue — that’s not the point. Your interviewer wants to see if you’re aware of your shortcomings and you have a plan to address them. Growth-minded organizations like Paycom understand that encountering new challenges is a natural part of career growth.

Overcoming these obstacles is part of how you’ll develop. Knowing that you’re committed to your own development helps a prospective employer want to be part of that development.

Don’t be too specific

Did your weakness bring you into conflict with a co-worker? That happens. Did you take steps to address the issue? That’s what your interviewer wants to hear.

Did it start because Stuart in accounting wanted to gather the Q3 data into a spreadsheet before presenting it at the weekly manager meeting, but Vicki was still reviewing the data for accuracy when you asked Stuart if his data included historical points? Yeah, that’s too much detail.

Limit the description of your problem and the resulting solution to two or three sentences. Keep it high level, and if a more thorough explanation is required, the interviewer can always ask you to fill in any clarifying details.

A good interview not only shows off what you can do, it’s a chance to show a prospective employer what you can become. By demonstrating an ability to identify areas for improvement and take initiative to make those improvements happen, you’ll show an interviewer that you’re adaptable and ready to rise to any challenge.

Are you ready to work for a company that values your career growth? Apply to Paycom today.

About the author
Author picture, Bonny Calfy
Bonny Calfy
As Paycom’s employer brand supervisor, Bonny Calfy oversees all recruitment marketing and employer brand efforts nationwide. Her brand awareness efforts extend over 10 years and have included launching the Paycom Careers blog and social media channels and producing recruitment videos, all to help attract top talent nationwide. Outside work, Bonny enjoys reading; fishing; and spending time with her husband, children and friends.