When you hear that common interview question, “Tell me about yourself,” hopefully it doesn’t send chills down your spine. In order to get to know you better, an interviewer will ask about your strengths and weaknesses. While you might easily talk about what you’re good at, discussing weaknesses in an interview can feel like a form of self-sabotage

Lashaunique Plummer, a HR business and operations leader and founder of Balangize, explains that when a hiring manager or recruiter asks you to tell them about your weaknesses, what they really want to know is whether or not you are self-aware and if you prioritize professional and personal development.

“Let me translate – employers know you aren’t perfect, but they want to ensure they are not blindsided when they hire you,” she said. 

To prepare for discussing weaknesses in an interview, Plummer advises reflecting on a piece of feedback you have previously received in a work environment. Talk about how you have taken initiative to apply that feedback and how you have improved. 

In her own career, Plummer said that an area of growth was tailoring her messages to different audiences. To improve, she partnered with different stakeholders to understand what was needed and what information was most important. She built her strategic communication skills by focusing on those items, and the result was a drastic change in alignment and collaboration. 

“I received direct feedback and appreciation for my progress and my increased ability to understand the needs of my partners,” she said. “I take this with me in every role.”

Openly Acknowledge Areas of Growth

When figuring out how to strategically discuss your weaknesses in a job interview, Plummer say it’s a big red flag to say you have no weaknesses. If you are not able to articulate your areas of development, this signals to the interviewer that you may not be self-aware or that you are a poor communicator. So the first step is to be open and honest.

“No one necessarily wants to share their weaknesses in a job interview, but we are all human,” she said. “This will come up in the process in some way.” 

Frame Your Weakness Progressively

When discussing weaknesses in an interview, it’s important to avoid speaking overtly negative. Be sure you only use an example that you turned around. For example, maybe a weakness you share is time management, and you share how you have utilized organization tools like Asana and Airtable to help you improve managing your time.

“If you only share a weakness without progress, this will likely be interpreted as you not prioritizing development,” she explains.

Be Specific

Don’t use trite and empty examples when discussing your weaknesses. Saying things like “I am a perfectionist” has been overused. While interviewees might think it portrays that they work hard, it is not truly a weakness. Plummer encourages job candidates to be genuine. 

“I encourage my clients to dig a little deeper,” she said. “If perfectionism is the truest answer for you, then say it, but if it is not, don’t.”

Above all else, be prepared and be honest!