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What to Write for a Weakness on a Job Application

by Rick Suttle

Whether you are switching careers or trying to get back into the workforce, some employer will inevitably ask you to list and describe your major "weakness" on an application form. This question can be answered in several ways, so it's best to prepare one plausible response in advance. Write down your weakness and explain it as you would if you were speaking to actual interviewer.

Keep it Minor

Write down only a minor weakness on the application form. Minor weaknesses are those that don't pertain to specific skills needed for the job. You wouldn't want to tell an employer you need to improve your communication skills if writing and speaking are essential to the job. Instead, describe something that doesn't impact your performance. For example, say, "I tend to be a little impatient at times because I expect a lot from my talented employees. But then I count to 10 if someone hands me a report full of grammar errors and I realize I can still meet the deadline."

Keep it Short

Keep your responses short, as you don't want to go on and on with an explanation and divulge another weakness unintentionally. An interviewer may later question you on the additional weakness, which you will need to explain. A lengthy explanation can also weaken the impact of your response. Mention that you are a perfectionist and might spend a little more time than you should ensuring the accuracy of an annual budget -- period!

Mention Improvement

Answer the "weakness" question the way employers intend it to be answered, according to "CBS Money Watch" -- by mentioning how you improved your performance to address that weakness, or how you are working toward improving it. For example, after briefly mentioning how you sometimes have trouble delegating work, explain how you have learned to delegate small tasks and have gained confidence in your subordinate's work.

What Not to Write

The worst response is to say you have no weaknesses, or to leave the section blank. Stating that you have no weaknesses is implausible. The lack of creativity behind such a response -- as well as not responding at all -- may be construed as a lack of interest. Another bad response is saying, "I work too hard." Working too hard is a strength in many hiring managers' minds. It's also a pedestrian response that won't win you too many points with employers.

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