Your Biggest Weakness in 4

by Diana La Femina, Head Editor, INALJ South Carolina

Your Biggest Weakness in 4

Diana.LaFeminaThe point of an interview is to sell yourself. That should be the goal of every answer you give. You’re the best person for this position, the only choice, and this is why. But how do you answer the dreaded weakness question? You have a few options:

1.       Disguise a strength as a weakness: This tactic often backfires. You’re such a perfectionist that it sometimes gets in the way, or you work way too hard at your job. Think these are actually strengths? They’re not. Perfectionism can get in the way of you performing to your highest potential, and certainly affect your efficiency. And working too hard means you’ll burn out and have a weak sense of boundaries. I’ve never heard of this answer working well for the interviewee. It also suggests that you don’t want to answer the question truthfully, which puts doubts in the interviewers’ minds about your strength\weakness ratio and your self-awareness. In addition, it suggests that you don’t respect your interviewers. They’ve been through this before, they’ll realize when you don’t answer the question. Don’t tempt fire with this one.

2.       Make a joke: You don’t have any weaknesses? This shows a lack of willingness to answer the question, and again suggests you don’t think your interviewers are smart enough to realize your evasion tactic. Best to stay away from this. (That being said, if you feel it’s right then by all means add a little levity to the interview and make a joke, just make sure to actually answer the question after.)

3.       Tell the truth: Tell the interviewers exactly what you feel your biggest weakness is (or biggest weakness as it relates to your job). This is a better answer, as it at least shows self-awareness, but the answer can be off-putting. After all, you want the interviewers to think the sun shines out of your eyes, not have their attention drawn to your failings.

4.       Tell the truth and explicate: This is by far my favorite way to answer this question. Here, you truthfully tell the interviewers a weakness, but you follow it up with an explanation of what you do to counteract any subsequent limitations, what you’re doing to actively improve it, used your weakness to your advantage, or a moment when you’ve overcome your weakness and had a quantified success (i.e., you can tell the with numbers/stats precisely what you accomplished). This answer shows that you’re aware of your shortcomings, but that you’re not just letting it lie. You’re self-aware, willing to improve your skills, and driven to make yourself a better worker.



Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay.