'What's your greatest weakness?'

content explain weakness job interview

While it can seem daunting to reveal your weaknesses if asked during an interview, it is important to remember that this question can be a springboard to impress.

A confident answer will show high levels of self-awareness – often a desirable trait for employers that demonstrates you can work well with others. It also highlights that you are able to assess your own performance and build on it, as well as take lessons from constructive criticism and move forward.

Honesty will always come across well. Blaming others for the weaknesses you mention, or making excuses for them, will suggest that you are less willing to work on yourself and, therefore, will not be as attractive to potential employers.


The best way to answer this question is to first consider what the interviewer actually wants to find out.

It is inevitable that you will struggle with some challenges in your new role, so it is important to explain how you have reacted to other problems in the past and prove that you have learned from this and made improvements as a result.

Alternatively, discuss any weaknesses you are working on, or any previous problems you have had and how you went about learning or upskilling as a result. Ideally, you will use a story from your previous work or academic experience to demonstrate your journey. This is what the interviewer wants to know.

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‘While this is a tough question, it is one employers like to ask as it highlights your level of self-understanding!’ says Lee Owen, director at Hays Accountancy & Finance. ‘As an initial suggestion, I would communicate a weakness that you are currently working on – provide an example of a previous work or academic issue that you had, and how you went about learning or upskilling as a result.’


The language you use to answer this question is also vitally important too. Try to strike a tone that shows you have grasped the situation and were capable of moving forward without too many difficulties.

Owen adds: ‘I would avoid using words that can be deemed as “too negative” – for example, “failed” or “unsuccessful”.

‘Instead, you could use phrases such as the “results of the task/project could have been improved by X”. Not only does this show that you have understood where you can develop, but it also depicts that you hold yourself to a high standard.

‘Finally, and it may sound obvious, but thoroughly read the job description! If there are certain skills, tools or programs that are mandatory and will be used throughout your role, avoid mentioning these in connection to this particular interview question.’

This article was first published in Student Accountant in July 2022 | Get the SA app now

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