9 answers

What is the best way to answer those "worst flaw" questions at an interview?

Updated Mentor, Ohio

I know that you aren't supposed to say "I don't have any flaws" or "My biggest flaw is that I am a hard worker", but I don't know what the best answer would be. Are companies looking for people who say "My biggest flaw is _____, but I have done this, that, and the other thing, to improve it." or "I used to _____but I have learned how to overcome that" or what?
Thanks in advance! #computer-software #business #medicine #law #entrepreneurship #communications #social-media #job-application #career-details

9 answers

Craig’s Answer

Updated San Francisco, California

I love that you're asking about this. It's such a great opportunity for you in an interview. While I like the spirit of the "I'm a perfectionist" answer -- because it flips the answer -- it's such a common answer that it sounds rehearsed and perhaps not honest. It's so common that a lot of interviewers will say "Tell us about a flaw you have, and you can't say that you're a perfectionist or that you work too hard."

Use the "worst flaw" question as an opportunity to show how you learn from mistakes and you grow. Also, that you're actively engaged with self-improvement.

  1. Pick something that you're already working on and getting better at. Be honest. If you're not working on getting better at something in your life, pick a bad habit and start making even small steps to improve it now. Then, that can honestly become part of your answer. For example, maybe sometimes you rush right into doing something without making a plan. But only pick this if it's something you're already working on.

Example A: "I like this question, because I'm always looking for ways to improve. Right now I've been working on my tendency to jump right into doing something when sometimes I should take a step back and make plan."

Example B: "In school, over the last year, I've been working on not waiting until the last minute. I feel like I'm good under pressure and there's some part of me that actually likes pulling an all-nighter to get a paper done, but I realize it's not helping me in the long run. So, I'm working on starting things earlier and breaking them up into manageable chunks.

  1. Describe how you're already improving. This is huge. It shows that you're reflective and that you have a growth mindset; two qualities that ANY good manager would want from you.

Example A, continued: "I'm making progress. A year ago, when I was [insert something from some previous job or how you approached something at school], I was excited to just get into it. Halfway through I realized I'd spent too much time on xxx and not enough time on yyy."

  1. Tie it back to the job that you're interviewing for by showing how you'll continue to improve, if possible.

Example A, continued: "In this role, I'll continue improving on this by reviewing the weekly schedule and reflecting on what needs to be prepared ahead of time and then at the start of each day, I'll review..." <-- That's just an example, of course.

  1. Alternate way to tie it into the new role: Show that you'll work with your manager and peers to improve, if it's not yet obvious how. If it's your first job, or maybe it's not clear how you'll actually continue working on this, you can demonstrate another great character trait: willingness to learn from others and communicate well.

Example A, continued: "I'm sure there will be ways for me to continue improving while I'm in this role, and I'm excited to learn more specifics of the day-to-day tasks. Especially in the beginning, I'll reach out to my colleagues and my manager to see if they have ideas and feedback on how I'm doing to improve my habit of making a smart plan." <-- or whatever your issue is.

I hope that helps.

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Thank you so much for answering, Mr. Peters! Your answer was incredibly helpful to me. Thank you for going in-depth and explaining everything so well. I will definitely remember this when I am interviewed. Thanks again!
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My pleasure, Angelina. Good luck!
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Thank you!

Cristina’s Answer

Updated Madrid, Community of Madrid, Spain

hello! make sure you´re honest, but letting them know your flaws, but also explaining how you overcome them. For Example if you don´t like doing admin tasks, let the interviewer know that you work these first time in the morning so that you can get them out of your way, so that you can work on what you enjoy more.

Also, admitting your flaws and strengths help you with your personal development. So be honest to yourself too.

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That is great advice, and I will keep it in mind at any interviews I have! Thank you for your help!

Stephanie’s Answer

Updated
Hi Angelina! Similar to Craig's answer earlier - I have found it useful prior to interviews to think about areas that I would like to improve on. This allows you to spin "flaw" into "area of improvement" showing your dedication to self improvement and growth... I recently was interviewing for a position where I was required to map out my level of expertise in several different areas/disciplines of design. I had never thought about my skill set this way, but it was really helpful to identify which areas of my skill set could use some improvement or growth. This also helped me with identifying what I wanted to learn from my peers and potential co-workers. Although you might not be a designer, here is the link to the mapping exercise if you'd like to take a look and see if you can apply a similar concept to your trade/career path: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/569bed615a5668a5944e9662/t/588a830af5e23191381feeda/1485472560965/UX+Skills_Activity.pdf Best of luck!

Rudo K.D.’s Answer

Updated Washington

Honesty is the best policy always because you want to show that you are authentic, but you need to choose the flaw you disclose wisely because some may end up deterring potential employers. When you reveal the flaws counter them by including ways you are trying to reduce or minimize your flaws. This shows employers you are human and genuine and not just trying to "pass" the interview.

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Thank you! Including ways you are trying to reduce your flaws is a good idea, and I will keep that in mind. Thanks again!

Vaughn E.’s Answer

Updated Greenwood, Indiana

Right now, honestly recognize your weakness & focus on optimizing your strength. Make sure that you are building relationships with people who speak truth in your life, so that you are better able to better minimize the impact of your weakness. We will always have a weakness, so embrace it. Build on your strengths and develop a healthy emotional intelligence about yourself :)

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Thanks for answering! I will keep that in mind.

Sydney’s Answer

Updated Austin, Texas

I think most prospective employers will look for honesty and if a candidate knows their strengths and weaknesses that weakness could actually be a strength in that potential employer's eyes. Really depends on what they're looking for and what the particular weakness or weaknesses are.

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Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question.

Kajal’s Answer

Updated

I think all most employers are looking for is honesty. I would refrain from masking a strength as an honesty since it is off putting to any employer. Every time, i was asked this question, i honestly gave them my flaw that would be a hindrance to me in a professional setting. Of course this required a lot of introspection.

My response was - "My biggest flaw is that sometimes i get too hung up on small details or on nitty gritty things and it took me a long time to realize that sometimes focusing in irrelevant things often prevents you from spending time on the right things" I would also add that i do acknowledge this and whenever i find myself doing this, i try to take a step back and think if it is worth spending time on!

Hope this helps!

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That was very helpful to me, thank you so much! I really appreciate your help.

Samady’s Answer

Updated Palm Harbor, Florida

Best way to answer this type of question , sort of like this...My flaw is that I'm perfectionist, I always have to get things right.

Or I'm always here to give it my all, so if you dont want someone whose here on time, here everyday... etc

So making that "negative" question work for you.

Don't be too honest, Oh I'm a procrastinator, Lazy. you know stuff like that. Nothing that will bring down your character.

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Thank you for your answer! I will try to keep that in mind.

Michelle’s Answer

Updated Bedford, Texas

When I am interviewing candidates for any position, I like honesty. Be honest when asked this question. I am also impressed when I know that the candidate has actually put some thought into their weaknesses and strengths. Many times, an employer asks for strengths and weaknesses, so he/she can determine if the potential employee could fill a gap that may currently exist in his/her staff. For example, if I have a lot of staff that are analytical and focus on the detail, I maybe looking for someone who can think more strategically and who's weakness is the detail. Therefore, never think of your weakness as something negative. We all have them. It's your strengths that you should focus on.

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Thank you for your answer! It was very helpful to me.