How would you describe your job poorly

Interview Weaknesses: 8 Smart Answers & Tips

“What are your weaknesses?” - The question about the deficits comes up in every second interview. It is accordingly feared by applicants. Everyone has weaknesses, of course. But which ones can you name without torpedoing the application and job opportunities? As uncomfortable as the question is, you can only score points with an honest and reflective answer. How it works? You will find detailed tips, examples and convincing answers here. So you are optimally prepared for the question of the weaknesses in the interview ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Why do HR managers ask about weaknesses?

Interview weaknesses - the question about it is one of the so-called stress questions. Even if it is easy to prepare, it makes applicants nervous. HR professionals are aware of this. There is no bad will behind the question, but the desire to look behind the facade in the application letter.

Employers want to find out with the weaknesses questionwhether applicants are capable of self-reflection and how they deal with identified deficits. No one is perfect. In your job, too, you will reach your limits or be confronted with weaknesses. It is all the more important that you deal with it in a constructive and solution-oriented manner.

Rule of thumb: Answer the question about the weaknesses as honestly as possible, but reflectively. Show that you are grappling with and working on yourself. Then you are doing everything right.

No empty phrases and standard answers!

The question about the weaknesses in the interview often leads applicants to empty phrases and standard answers. Typical (and bad) answers are:

  • "I'm too perfectionist."
  • "I am impatient."
  • "I work too much, I'm a workaholic."
  • "I am very ambitious."
  • "Chocolate!"
  • "I don't have any weaknesses worth mentioning."
  • "I can't think of anything to do that."

HR managers react just as sniffly to such answers like mucous membranes for flu viruses. They recognize a lack of preparation or even arrogance in this. Please NEVER try to reformulate a strength into an alleged weakness so that you can shine with it again. The mesh does not pull and has long since been seen through.

How HR managers disguise the question of weaknesses

Because the question of the weaknesses in the job interview is feared, it is often concealed in the job interview. The latest trend is to stop asking them directly. You should pay attention when you hear the following questions:

  • "How would your friends describe you?"
    Instead of asking directly about (negative) characteristics, HR managers use statements from others (colleagues, customers or bosses). This becomes more noticeable if you are asked what others might criticize you about you.
  • "What quality would you change in yourself?"
    The interest in self-optimization desires is more refined. Here the question of weakness is hidden very subtly.
  • "On a scale from 1 to 10: How resilient are you?"
    Questions of scale are also used by employers to identify weaknesses. Make yourself aware: Values ​​below 7 are interpreted as weakness, above 9 it appears arrogant.

Interview: Name weaknesses, but not relevant

There are plenty of examples of good answers to the classic questions about your own weaknesses. The best always come down to the same answer formula: honesty - paired with good intent.

Means: Admit a weakness and immediately explain how you (constructively) deal with it. In this way (temporary) weaknesses can not only be shown positively. In doing so, you demonstrate your willingness to learn and the ability to learn - a good prerequisite for personal growth. It also characterizes an emotionally mature and stable personality: you learn from your weaknesses, work on them and compensate for them with a better environment. Top!

But please never mention any relevant weaknesses! A carpenter who does not have a head for heights? A nurse who is impatient? A customer advisor who likes to teach others? Such weaknesses disqualify you for the job. But at least they question the suitability of the candidate. The weaknesses mentioned must never count among the core competencies and key qualifications for the position sought. Otherwise you're out.

Weaknesses examples - and good answers

Stand by your quirks, quirks and shortcomings. What recruiters want to hear in an interview is whether you are honest (with yourself) and self-critical. Both are indicators for future high performers and high intelligence.

In fact, there are some likable weaknessesthat you can safely admit. Here are some examples and tips for good answers.

Weakness: presenting

“I have problems speaking in front of a larger audience. I am often nervous and uncomfortable then. But I'm trying to get a grip on that. That's why I took a speaker course with a well-known coach. "

The weakness would only be problematic if you have to give lectures to groups more often in your new job - for example as a press officer or teacher. If this rarely happens - for example in meetings - the handicap is limited. By telling you that you are attending rhetoric courses or seminars in presentation technique, the weakness will soon become a strength. Not least because you are obviously investing time and money in yourself.

Weakness: Asserting

“I find it difficult to express my opinion in a large group. Especially when I am supposed to assert myself against others. I usually look for colleagues in advance who I can convince in a one-on-one conversation and who will support me later. "

Admittedly, assertiveness is what you expect from future leadership talents. But who can do that straight away? Anyone who convinces parts of the team in advance is not alone in the big group. That even proves strategic thinking - despite weakness. And those who can convince colleagues generally have good arguments and may only need some rhetoric training.

Weakness: Organize

“Sometimes I find it difficult to stay organized. In order to keep track of things, I rediscovered the ToDo list for myself. Since I've been creating, prioritizing and processing these lists every morning, I've been more structured and productive. "

Nobody likes to hire a slob, it smells like mess and missed deadlines. With the above answer and explanation, however, applicants present a meaningful solution and problem that is hardly one anymore.

Weakness: focus

“A loud background noise like in an open-plan office can make it difficult for me to concentrate. In the meantime, however, I've bought anti-noise headphones. A colleague gave me the tip. So I have practically everything under control. "

There is a solution for every problem, every (supposed) weakness. It's good if you can find it yourself. The example shows: You can also name former weaknesses in the interview - especially if you were able to handle them so confidently.

Weakness: translating

“Sometimes I am missing specialist English vocabulary. To prevent my foreign language skills from rusting, I founded a group with a few friends in which we meet once a week just to speak and train in English. This also includes a native speaker. That helps a lot. "

Again the same principle: the weakness may "sometimes" still appear. But the cause has long been recognized and you are working specifically on it. In addition, in a team with others. Even more: you founded the group yourself. More commitment and leadership is not possible.

Weakness: idiots

“I can work wonderfully in a team. In order to get creative or develop new ideas, I need peace and quiet and like to withdraw. Of course, I discuss the result with my colleagues again and can then deal with criticism. "

Lone wolfs have a bad reputation. Wrongly. Even so, you have to argue against the stereotype. But a home office day per week or occasional mental quarantine times do not mean a disruption to the peace of the company. You have probably already achieved some success in previous jobs or projects. Tell about it!

Weakness: focus

“I have a couple of weaknesses right away: xxx, yyy, zzz. But frankly, I invest my energy more in my strengths and develop them. And so and so and so ... "

This example is brave. In no case should the answer sound like you're arrogant. The crucial point is that you turn the question about the weaknesses and set other priorities: Do not invest time and energy in weaknesses, but strengthen strengths. So that this does not remain an empty phrase, you should give concrete evidence of how you are working on yourself.

Weakness: catching up

“There's this new social media app - Clubhouse. I have to admit that I'm not at all familiar with it yet. But I have decided to deal with it intensively in the next few days "

For a budding social media manager, this may be a shortcoming. On the other hand, new trends are constantly emerging everywhere. So you can admit if you have not yet mastered a new, hip app or programming language - as long as you confess to make up for it. In doing so, you are not revealing a weakness, but actually a high self-demand to pick up trends in good time.

Interview weaknesses: wrong answers

Dosed honesty is the best strategy when it comes to revealing weaknesses in an interview. A healthy self-image can never hurt. However, there are answers and reactions to the applicant question that you should not give or show under any circumstances.

  • Soul striptease
    Nobody asks you to give a detailed account of your shortcomings. You can name a maximum of two weaknesses. But no more, please. On the other hand, it is permissible to relativize a weakness with (restrictive) adjectives such as “now and then”, “occasionally”, “isolated”, “in places” or “sometimes”.
  • humor
    Humor can defuse a lot. In the application and in the job interview, HR professionals expect a serious examination of themselves and their own weaknesses.

Funny answers to the question about the weaknesses

You can smile at these alternative answers - but we do NOT recommend them to be copied. So: "What is your greatest weakness?"

  • "Can you repeat the question? I don't always listen. "
  • "How much time do you have?"
  • "Well, where do I start?"
  • "Can I call a telephone joker?"
  • “My biggest weakness: impatience. Do I have the job now? "
  • "My greatest weakness: my bank account!"
  • "Please don't destroy my job opportunities!"

Explain weaknesses in the résumé

At first glance, a complete and clear résumé hardly shows any weaknesses. These are hidden in the details: Perhaps you changed the subject in between because it didn't fit. Or you have completed an internship in a different subject in order to orientate yourself professionally. Or you have canceled a trial period. Not a broken leg! But it can raise questions.

Please never try to gloss over your résumé. That can even cost the job later. Make yourself aware of the weak points in the résumé and think of a meaningful explanation for them. Explanation - no justification! And certainly no blame. You may have made a mistake or made the wrong decision. But you've learned from experience. That must be your attitude. It is convincing if you can use your résumé to show how the situation ultimately led to a positive development.

Studies: Points with weaknesses in the application

If you have questions about breaks or gaps in your CV. Or if you still doubt how to answer the question "What is your greatest weakness?": There are now several scientific studies and tips for smart answers:

  • Daniel M. Cable and Virginia S. Kay experimented with business school graduates who found that they did better in interviews if they answered truthfully, rather than positively, when asked about their weaknesses in the interview. So admitted one or two real weaknesses.
  • A Harvard study showed that only 23 percent of applicants admitted real weaknesses in their previous jobs. The majority of 77 percent disguised their weaknesses in positive words (“I'm too nice”, “I value fairness too much”). When the researchers asked the recruiters who they would hire, around 80 percent of the recruiters did not select these candidates, but rather those who had admitted real weaknesses.
  • Researchers at University College London found: Those who are self-critical and authentic in the job interview and admit their weaknesses increase their job opportunities fivefold. The unvarnished truth made the best impression.

Strengths in the interview: which ones to name?

After you have dealt intensively with the weaknesses in the interview, the strengths remain in the interview. Many candidates feel that they are on the safe side here. It seems easy to talk about your qualifications, skills and strengths. Warning: the line between self-application and self-adulation is fine. You shouldn't put your light under a bushel. But the answer must not degenerate. The basic rules:

  • Do not exaggerate
    No matter how perfectly your qualifications and strengths fit the job, don't go praising yourself to heaven. Stay realistic and present your strengths objectively.
  • Bring examples
    Do not just assert your ability to work in a team, resistance to stress and organizational strength - also prove this with concrete examples and successes from previous jobs or internships. The more work experience you have, the better the success. Young applicants can score points with examples from school, university or part-time jobs.

Show that you are someone who is enjoyable to work with and can be relied on. Then the employer will forgive you (almost) any weakness.

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Even more interview tips
➠ Interview: All the tips

Job interview process
➠ Interview preparation
➠ Application questions + answers
➠ Job interview clothes
➠ Introducing yourself
➠ self-presentation
➠ End the interview

Interview types
➠ Second interview
➠ Assessment Center
➠ Stress interview
➠ Job interview English
➠ Video interview
➠ Telephone interview

Typical questions
➠ These 100 questions can come
➠ 25 trick questions + answers
➠ Stress issues
➠ What are your weaknesses?
➠ What are your strengths?
➠ Why should we hire you?
➠ What was your last salary?
➠ Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
➠ Why did you quit?
➠ Inadmissible questions
➠ Inquiries to HR managers

Tips & Tricks
➠ Practice interview
➠ Interview mistakes
➠ White lies in the job interview
➠ body language tips
➠ Overcome nervousness
➠ Where to put your hands?

➠ Confirm the interview
➠ Postpone the interview
➠ Cancel the interview
➠ Cancel the interview
➠ Follow up after the conversation