In interviews, we designers are often asked what are our weakest areas and how we are working to improve them. My colleagues and I are constantly trying to improve and better our craft. Many creatives will read blogs, books, and take classes regarding our medium. We are trying to stay on top of the work. Not only to maintain a job, but we are building our careers to compete with the larger community. I’ve been asked about my greatest weakness many times. At first, it can be very jarring. Once I realized what the interviewers were really asking, I learned ways to construct an answer that leaves the best impression.
Explaining your greatest weakness – what to avoid
No cliches – “I feel that my greatest weakness is that I am very critical of my own work. I work too hard.” While cliches can be true, These are cliches for a reason. We all have these problems, and we have heard them a million times. If you’re looking to kill the conversation, use a cliche.
Avoid leaving a negative impression – This would be a great place to show how you are going to work on that weakness. Instead of just presenting it as a negative, explain why it’s important that you want to work on it and how you are going to do it.
Make your answer relevant – what to do
Find a relevant skill that you need to strengthen. If you feel you need to focus on a specific part of design that is outside of your strengths, such as research and synthesis, explain how this weakness is actually related to your strengths. Talk about how working on this can help build up your strengths even more.
Specifically for designers in software, lay out the UX process. (Research > Interaction > Visual > Develop > Repeat – not necessarily in this order). Be clear on where your strengths as a designer lie within this process. If you are strong with Interaction Design and wireframes, start with declaring this is the area where you can best contribute. Discuss how you have been focused on building up your strengths, and you are naturally weaker in other areas (i.e. research or visual design). Talk about how building up on weakness, such as research, techniques will inform and guide your interaction designs. I often talk about the synthesis part of research, and how difficult it seems for even a skilled design researcher to go through and find themes that will inform the direction of design.
Why prepare for this question
It’s a common question. The interviewers or panel do not necessarily want to trip you up, but they do want to see if you’re human. They are looking for someone that has the passion to keep learning and the humility to admit it.
Interested in learning more? Here is another great resource from Vitamin T’s blog on how to approach this question.
Read my post on the four job interview myths that stop designers from even applying.