Mastering the "what's your weakness" interview questions

Okay, imagine you're interviewing for your dream job, and it's going well. It's clear the hiring manager loves you. You got this!

But then they ask: "What are your weaknesses?"

You struggle to come up with an answer that doesn't make you look bad. But you're drawing a blank. You knew this standard questions was coming. But until now, you had no idea how hard it would be to answer.

Don't let this happen! At Jump Start, we recommend you have a weakness ready to go before you set foot in an interview.

You only need one weakness. And is should be a positive weakness - a weakness that shows off your strengths.

Here are examples of positive weaknesses:

The Responsibility Weakness

“As a responsible person, I tend to take on more work to help others out. I’ll always get the job done no matter how much is on my plate, but it can sometimes leave me feeling overwhelmed. I've learned along the way that taking on too much responsibility is, in itself, irresponsible. Especially when you're part of a team. Knowing this about myself, I’ve gotten better at saying “no” to tasks that really aren’t mine to take on."

This answer conveys the person has a solid work ethic, is helpful, eager and gets the job done. It also shows the person is making positive changes to overcome this weakness.

 The Achiever Weakness

“As an achiever, there are times I struggle with work/life balance. I’ll work late to get a few more things crossed off my to-do list. As a result, I've been late to a number of social activities in my personal life. What I’ve learned is it’s best for me to have a stable work/life balance. And so, I strive to leave at 6:00PM each day unless, I need to stay late to complete an urgent task. It takes discipline for me to step away and come back fresh but it's worth it.”

 This positive weakness shows you’re a hard worker, you will stay late to get work done and that you know the importance of striving for a healthy work/life balance.

 The Avid Learner Weakness

“As an avid learner, there are times when I don’t think I have enough information to get started on a project. I’ll continue researching even when I probably have enough. I’ve gotten much better at overcoming this by stopping myself and making an outline of all the information I’ve collected. Doing this step  shows me I’m ready to dive into the project."

This positive weakness lets the hiring manager know you don't rush into projects. You value research and planning, and you have the confidence and experience to start a project even in the face of a few unknowns. 

 Formulate your positive weakness in five steps:

  1. Pick one of your strengths
  2. Come up with a REAL example of how it backfired 
  3. Describe what you’ve done and are doing to overcome it. Details!
  4. Write out your answer and practice out loud.  
  5. Keep it real. Your hiring manager will know if you're making it up.