Administrative Interview Questions About Weaknesses

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When you are applying for an administrative or office position, a typical job interview question is, "What is your greatest weakness?" As with any inquiry about a weakness during an interview, you want to make sure to answer honestly and sincerely, but still, paint yourself in a positive light. It can be tricky to give a good response, but there are ways to respond effectively.

What Not to Say When Answering "What's Your Greatest Weakness?"

It's important to avoid giving any response that would make you seem like a poor fit for the position. You don't want to give the hiring manager a reason not to hire you. For instance, if the administrative position will require you to be on the phone frequently, you wouldn't want to respond by saying you have a poor phone manner or accidentally hang up on people when you intend to transfer the call. Responses that make you seem like a poor worker — for instance, "I have trouble getting to meetings on time" or "I send emails with tons of typos to major clients" — should also be avoided.

But you'll also want to avoid giving a weakness answer that is arrogant, or dodges the question, such as "I'm a perfectionist, and just can't rest until all problems are completely resolved" or "I'm just too much of a hard worker." That type of response doesn't seem genuine or sympathetic, and the interviewer will notice that you've failed to answer the question. Also, someone who is too much of a perfectionist may not be considered an asset by the employer. After all, a quest for perfection can result in slow results.  

One more thing to avoid: sharing weaknesses that do not relate to the work. So, do not answer this question by sharing how bad you are at cleaning dishes.  

Tips for Giving a Strong Answer

One strategy when answering this question is to use it as an opportunity to show how you're actively working to improve your weakness. 

Remember the phone example from above? You could possibly respond by saying, "I have a tendency to get a bit flustered with new phone systems. I get so focused on the phone's functions that I don't engage well with callers. Since it's important to me to sound friendly and approachable on the phone, I created a sticky-note with instructions for how to put calls on hold, transfer, etc. It's made answering the phone much less stressful, and I can tell my phone manner has improved as a result." 

A response like this also shows the interviewer that you're equipped to handle a challenge and can come up with solutions to problems. 

Get more insight into the best way to discuss your strengths and weaknesses during a job interview. One final tip: Practice your response by reviewing sample answers. 

Examples of the Best Answers

Here are sample interview answers which you can edit to fit your personal experiences and background:

  • I sometimes overdo getting my work done ahead of time. However, I am excellent at meeting deadlines, and with my attention to detail, I know my work is correct.
  • Sometimes, I spend more time than necessary on a task or have volunteered to take on tasks personally that could easily be handled by someone else in the office.
  • I can get very impatient when people do not deliver work in a timely manner. To avoid feeling frustrated with co-workers, I've learned to establish clear deadlines and give friendly reminders a few days prior to keep projects on track.
  • Although I've never missed a deadline, it is still an effort for me to know when to move on to the next task, and to be confident when assigning others work.
  • I suffer a bit from the "if you want something done right, do it yourself" mentality, and have sometimes found it hard to delegate or let others help me with projects. But of course, doing everything yourself is often overwhelming and frustrating. I've learned that dividing up tasks, setting up check-in times, and working as a team can result in great outcomes (and less late nights).
  • I used to like to work on one project to its completion before starting on another, but I've learned to multi-task better. I think it allows me to be more creative and effective in each one.