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Job interviews are nerve-wracking and stressful. It can be even worse when an interviewer asks you a question you are not prepared to answer. One question you can generally count on being asked is, “What are your greatest weaknesses?” 

This can be a difficult question to answer. Your answer reveals a lot about your character and personality. It can be a question meant to trip you up and expose major flaws. So how should you go about answering this popular interview question?

1. Know What Your Weaknesses Are

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. If you don’t understand your weaknesses, you probably won’t understand your strengths, and then you won’t be able to sell yourself for the job. If you need help defining your weaknesses, take a personality quiz. There are many that you can choose from. One example of a popular test is the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator.

2. Don’t Mention Specific, Essential Skills

You want to stay away from answers like “I pay too much attention to detail” if you are getting hired to do a job that requires paying attention to details. You are admitting to them that you have a deficit in the very area they are trying to hire you for. Instead, just be honest. For example, if you are interviewing for a creative director position, and you tell them your biggest weakness is finance, it will make no difference if finance is not in the job description. So you want to look over the job description to see exactly what the employer is looking for, and avoid saying any of the qualities they are looking for are a weakness of yours. 

3. Have an Example of a Time You Conquered the Weakness

You want to be ready to share examples of previous weaknesses or failures that you have turned into strengths or how you have overcome weaknesses. Even if it’s a weakness you still have, describe a time when you overcame that particular weakness. 

4. Be Concise 

Don’t ramble on forever. Be short, sweet, and to the point. Deliver your answer with confidence, and make eye contact. If you exude strength even when discussing weaknesses, it will subconsciously communicate to the interviewer that you can overcome your weaknesses. 

Interview questions don’t have to be scary if you’re prepared. However, while you definitely want to prepare, you don’t want to rehearse an answer you’ve written. You want it to sound natural, and you might need to adjust your answer depending on how the rest of the conversation has gone.

For more interview tips, have a look at the firstPRO blog.