How to Answer “What is Your Greatest Weakness?”

How to Answer "What is Your Greatest Weakness?" - Equation Staffing Solutions - Staffing Agency Services - Featured Image

Many people prepare for job interviews by practicing interview questions with a friend or in front of a mirror. Well-delivered answers impress hiring managers, increasing your chances of getting the position. There is one particular question that makes even experienced job seekers stumble: “What is your greatest weakness?” Your answer reveals a lot about your character. You don’t want to be dishonest and pretend you don’t have any weaknesses. You don’t want to disqualify yourself by talking about a weakness in an area that is crucial to the job. There are ways to respond effectively; to answer this question in a manner that will positively impact your chance to get the position. 


Why do interviewers ask the question “What is your greatest weakness?”

This is not a trick question and there’s no right answer. Hiring managers ask this question because:

  • they want to know if you are self-aware. Do you know the things you do well and the things you need help with?
  • they want to know if you are honest enough to own your mistakes rather than blaming others.
  • they’re trying to ascertain if you are serious about your career, earnest enough to keep a weakness from holding you back.
  • they’re looking for examples/stories of how you have faced past obstacles.
  • they want to know if you are resilient, a critical skill that employees must have.
  • they’re interested in how you handle constructive criticism.


Advice for answering the question, “What’s your greatest weakness?”

Though this question is challenging, it’s an opportunity to show that you’ve got the right assets for the job. However, it’s difficult to talk about your flaws in a stressful situation. The following are some tips for talking about your biggest weakness in a job interview.

  • You don’t want to come across as arrogant. You do want your answer to be honest, but as positive as possible.
  • You want to appear self-aware, but you don’t want to sell yourself short.
  • Choose a real weakness, one that shows up in the workplace.
  • Choose a weakness that will not prevent you from succeeding in the role you’ve applied for.
  • Hard skills are generally the best to choose from because they are the easiest to overcome. Focus on your behaviours, which can be changed, rather than your personality, which is much more difficult to change.
  • Be prepared with more than one possible weakness. 
  • Focus on steps you are taking to improve on your weakness and avoid mentioning weaknesses in skills that are important and/or requirements for the job.
  • Use an anecdote to demonstrate how you’ve used a weakness as motivation to learn a new skill or grow professionally.
  • Let your story show the hiring manager that you recognize your need for growth and are able to act to improve your weakness without being told to do so.
  • Avoid using negative words like “weak” and “failure.”
  • Think about your weakness ahead of time, but don’t over-rehearse a response. Your answer might change slightly according to the rest of the conversation with the hiring manager and you don’t want it to come across as inauthentic or staged.
  • Be as concise as possible. Your answer need be no longer than a minute or two. 
  • Steer clear of clichés. Hiring managers tire of candidates trying to disguise strengths as weaknesses (“I work too hard,” “I’m too passionate about what I do,” I’m a perfectionist.”)
  • Don’t deflect and/or avoid answering the weakness’s question with a joke.


Hiring managers know that no one is perfect! They ask about your greatest weakness because they want to know that you are aware of your deficiencies, can admit your weakness to others and that you know how to take steps to improve. Interviews are designed to filter out bad candidates just as much as they are about finding the right one. So be careful how you answer the dreaded question, “What is your greatest weakness?”


Looking for a new position? Interested in some expert advice and assistance? Call our Calgary recruiting agency, Equation Staffing Solutions at 1-844-367-9618. We are a reliable, innovative, collaborative agency here to support you in your search for a position and/or personnel. Our experience will assist you! Contact us today.