April 27, 2014

ON THE JOB: What is your weakness?

By Shannon Niedzwicki Guest columnist

---- — One of the most common interview questions is “what is your weakness?” That is also one of the most feared interview questions and the one students most often ask me about.

My advice? You want to be honest without being too honest. And remember: Everyone has a weakness, so don’t try to avoid this question. Employers use your response to determine how you take steps to improve yourself and make sure your weakness isn’t going to inhibit you from completing your job duties.

There are a couple different approaches to this question that can turn a negative into a positive. First, you could talk about a trait you don’t really need for the position you’re applying for. For example, maybe giving group presentations or public speaking is your weakness but it’s not necessarily something you need if you are applying for a nursing job. You could answer something like this: “Public speaking has never been my strong point, but during my clinicals and classwork, I put myself in situations where I had to give group presentations and it really made me more confident in that type of setting.”

See what I did there? I turned a negative into a positive in talking about how I addressed potential weakness. Also note that I didn’t use the word “weakness” at all in my answer. You always want to focus on the positive during an interview.

You could also talk about the skills that you enhanced in your last job or through your college career. A good example might be organizational skills or time management. You could answer, “I haven’t always been the most organized individual in the past, but I implemented a time management and color-coded filing system in my previous job that really helped me see how organization is key to being a productive employee.” Again I turned a positive into a negative and didn’t use the word “weakness” in my answer.

My most important advice on this question is to prepare your answer. Being prepared will help with your confidence levels during this nerve-racking time. If you’re prepared for this common question, you can focus on other aspects of the interview like what questions to ask or how you see yourself working for this company. The interview is your opportunity to close the deal on this position so be confident, be yourself and be prepared!

Shannon Niedzwicki, director of Career Services for Ivy Tech Community College Kokomo Region, writes an occasional series of columns on finding jobs and succeeding in the workplace. For more information, email Niedzwicki at