7 Secrets on How to Answer “The Weakness Question” Like a Pro (Written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)

Everyone hates “the weakness question,” but you should LOVE it!

Most job candidates butcher their chances of getting hired by how they answer this potentially deadly question.  When you know how to answer it confidently and competently, you can really differentiate yourself from the competition.

Before we discuss the 7 secrets on how to answer this question, let’s discuss the 3 main reasons why employers ask this question.  

First of all, they feel like they have to ask this; most interviewers are not very creative.  Secondly, they want to see how you respond under pressure; they know this is a question most people don’t really want to answer.  Lastly, they want to see if you will actually say something that gives them a reason to remove you from consideration.

Here are 7 secrets for hitting a home-run when you are asked “the weakness question:”

  1. Start with some self-deprecating humor.  This is a great way to put everyone at ease before you respond with your real answer.  Find a playful, but professional and relevant way to poke fun at yourself first.
  2. Be calm, confident, and concise.  Answer this question in 30-60 seconds (max) and maintain good posture and eye contact while you answer.   The longer you talk, or the more you move around or squirm, the more likely you will say something verbally or with your body language that can hurt you.
  3. Sandwich your weakness.  Start by highlighting one of your main strength(s), then address a weakness, and then end with a quick reminder of your strength(s). 
  4. Discuss a weakness that is irrelevant.  Highlight a skill or knowledge base not relevant to the work you would be doing in this position. 
  5. Demonstrate how you are trying to improve.  Mention a step(s) you are taking to address the weakness.
  6. NEVER mention anything very relevant or alarming.  This sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed at what some people say under pressure when they have not thought about this question ahead of time.
  7. Gently flip this question back on the interviewer.  The best interviews are 2-way conversations that resemble a leisurely game of tennis, as the “ball” (i.e. questions and answers) gets hits back and forth. 

Let’s pretend I was interviewing for a job in outside sales with an NBA team.  Here is an example of how this might play out.

Interviewer: “Pete, what is your biggest weakness?”


“Well, my jump shot is not what it used to be.  (Smile.)  Seriously though, one of my biggest strengths is my strong communication and persuasion skills, as proven by 3-time #1 ranking in the sales department for the NBA’s Washington Wizards. 

However, one area I am trying to improve is my knowledge of how major companies can leverage social media.  I have been reading ABC Book to learn more about that topic.  Having said that, my strong communication and persuasion skills are a main reason why I believe I could increase this department’s revenue from day 1.  I’m curious.  Since we’re talking about weaknesses, what do you think is your department’s greatest weakness?”


-Pete Leibman

-Career Expert, Author, Speaker, and Coach

-Creator of The Dream Job College Tour




Blog: http://CareerMuscles.Wordpress.com

Twitter: @peteleibman

P.S. To learn more about my programs and availability for The 2011 Dream Job College Tour (or for individual career coaching), please send an email to Pete@IdealizeNow.com.

Explore posts in the same categories: Get Your Dream Job NOW, Interviews

3 Comments on “7 Secrets on How to Answer “The Weakness Question” Like a Pro (Written by Career Expert, Pete Leibman)”

  1. Steve Weber Says:

    The key really is to know the weakness question is coming and have a thought out strategy for answering. Pete’s 7 steps are great. In point #4 I’d suggest ‘slightly off topic’ than irrelevant – everything is potentially relevant during an interview.

  2. I like the article, I like point #5. I’ve found that employers like someone that is able to effectively and continually self-evaluate, and to also ACT on ways they can continually improve themselves. Of course, it is good to not bring up a core competency during the interview…

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