Jan 27

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Sample Answers to the Weakness Question – The JOB HUNT series

As part of the JOB HUNT series, we’ll go through the most common and difficult job interview questions and give you sample answers suggested by HR experts in the field. One of the most common and least liked questions you can get at the job interview is the weakness question.

The weakness question may take many different forms such as:

What is your greatest weakness?

What are some of your weaknesses?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

If I called your current/previous manager, what would he/she say that you need to work on?

Tell me about a development goal that you have set.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

What do you most want to improve in the next year?


Sure seem like trick questions, right? Yes, and in a way they are: the interviewer isn’t fishing for your secret flaws as much as they would like to see how you approach your weakness. Are you working on it and trying to get better? Hopefully, yes. The next question then is: How do you think you can do that?

According to interview coach Pamela Skillings, the recipe to acing the answer and killing the interview is as follows:

1) The weakness – choose a weakness that isn’t a major problem on the job you’d like to fill. For example, not being able to communicate well with people would be major handicap for a number of jobs such as teachers, journalists, salespeople, and so on.

2) Tell them what you do to get better – you must come off as someone who is aware of their mistakes and willing to work on it and get better. Nobody is perfect, but being open to learning and improving yourself is one of the best qualities an employer may want to see in their employees.


SAMPLE ANSWER with vocabulary explanations

by Pamela Skillings



“Honestly, I would say that public speaking is an area that I could work on (=something I’m not good at). I tend to get nervous when asked to present to a large group of people. In small team meetings, I’m the first one to stand up and present. But put me in front of a big group and I can get flustered (=nervous).

I actually spoke to my manager about this and we set it as one of my development goals for this year. I took an internal (=in-company) presentation skills class and attended some meetings of Toastmasters, a networking group for people who want to practice public speaking. With some practice, I started to feel more comfortable. Last month, I even volunteered to represent our team at a division-wide town hall. I only had to present for 10 minutes, but I did it and got great feedback! It was actually kind of fun, so I plan on continuing to seek out (=find) opportunities (=possibilities) to improve in this area.”

Why It Works: Fear of public speaking is a common fear. In this sample answer, the candidate makes it clear that she has no trouble communicating in general which could be a red flag (=something that the employer wouldn’t want to see). It’s just getting up in front of a big group that scares her.

She goes on to describe how she identified the weakness, spoke with her manager about it, and then took proactive steps to improve. She even has a little triumph (=victory) at the end.

For another really effective sample answer try this interactive listening quiz.



Related post

INTERACTIVE LISTENING QUIZ – Sample Answers to the Weakness Question


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