A common behavioral question asked in consulting interviews is the dreaded “what is your greatest weakness?” question. Unlike other behavioral or fit interview questions, this question is designed to make you think introspectively and feel particularly vulnerable.
Consulting firms ask the “what’s your greatest weakness?” question for three main reasons.
One, they want to see that you are humble and don’t have an ego. Recognizing that you have a weakness will make you appear grounded and down-to-earth. Consultants work closely in teams, so many consulting firms value this quality.
Two, this question is a test to see whether you have a growth mindset and are constantly working to improve yourself. Consultants constantly look for development opportunities to grow their skillset.
Three, this question is another way for your interviewer to assess your communications skills. Can you communicate your weakness in a clear, concise way? Is your answer believable or credible?
For these reasons, it is important to take the time to craft your answer to the “what’s your greatest weakness?” question carefully. You want to choose a weakness that will help you demonstrate these three qualities without raising any red flags to the interviewer.
If you have an upcoming consulting interview, we have you covered. In this article, we’ll cover:
- How to answer the “what’s your greatest weakness?” consulting question
- The 25 best weaknesses for a consulting interview
- Four common mistakes when answering “what’s your greatest weakness?”
How to Answer the “What's Your Greatest Weakness?” Consulting Question
As with any consulting interview question, it is always best to structure your answer. A structure will help keep your answer concise, easy to follow, and focused. We recommend using the following structure:
- Provide a one sentence, high-level summary of your greatest weakness
- Illustrate your weakness with an example
- Explain the specific steps you have taken to improve on this weakness
- Describe the tangible outcomes as a result of your improvement
- Reflect on your progress and what you have learned and what you have left to learn or practice
Providing a one sentence, high-level summary in the beginning of your answer will make the rest of your answer easier to follow. Illustrating your weakness with an example will make your answer more clear and credible.
The last three bullets in this structure helps demonstrate that you are an introspective, action-oriented person. It shows that you actively track your progress and are excited to continue growing and improving.
This simple structure will give your answer to the “what’s your greatest weakness?” question a huge edge over other candidates’ answers that are less structured.
The 25 Best Weaknesses for a Consulting Interview
Now that you understand how to answer the “what’s your greatest weakness?” question, how do you pick which weakness to share? What are the best weaknesses to mention?
There is no single right answer to this. The exact weakness that you pick does not matter as long as it meets two criteria.
One, your weakness needs to be an actual weakness, not a strength in disguise. Bringing up a strength when you are asked to provide a weakness shows that you are not humble or introspective enough to recognize your own weaknesses.
Two, the weakness you provide should be appropriate for the work setting. You don’t want to talk about weaknesses that have nothing to do with consulting or with work.
A helpful exercise to help you choose what weakness to share is to imagine yourself as a consultant working at the firm that you are interviewing for. Based on what you know about the role or the work culture, what is an improvement area that you think your manager would identify during your first job review?
Improvement areas identified by your former supervisor or manager would also make great answers.
Below are 25 examples of great weaknesses to talk about in your consulting interview:
1. Focusing too much on details and not enough on the big picture
2. Difficulty presenting effectively in front of large groups
3. Trouble working effectively with people that have different working styles
4. Difficulty recognizing when to give up on an idea and move onto something else
5. Trouble tackling ambiguous or unclear problems
6. Slow decision-making when it comes to handling important or big problems
7. Inability to fully consider other people’s thoughts and feelings when making decisions
8. Impatience when it comes to working with tight deadlines
9. Difficulty motivating oneself when team morale is low
10. Trouble delegating work to others effectively
11. Difficulty keeping track of all of the small, but important details
12. Trouble motivating others during stressful or difficult times
13. Difficulty staying organized when given too many tasks or assignments
14. Trouble giving direct feedback to others
15. Difficulty effectively analyzing large and complex datasets
16. Trouble persuading and convincing others
17. Inability to stay calm during stressful or intense situations
18. Difficult being a great listener that is fully engaged
19. Trouble exhibiting confidence in front of others
20. Inability to take calculated risks when necessary
21. Difficulty standing up for oneself when challenged by others
22. Trouble managing others effectively
23. Difficulty helping others achieve their maximum potential
24. Trouble staying focused on one thing at a time
25. Difficulty synthesizing information from multiple different sources
Four Common Mistakes When Answering “What's your Greatest Weakness?”
Mistake #1: Refusing to reveal a weakness
The worst thing you can do is tell your interviewer that you can’t think of a single weakness. This is not only hard to believe, but could make the interviewer think that you are hiding something.
Everyone has weaknesses. If you are not able to identify a single one, it shows that you are not self-aware. Remember, you are not expected to be a perfect candidate, you’ll likely improve on many of the weaknesses that you have while working in consulting.
Mistake #2: Sharing a weakness that is a strength in disguise
Don’t try to use an exaggerated strength as a weakness. This is not a real, candid answer and interviewers will roll their eyes if you give this type of answer. Examples of poor weaknesses that are actually strengths in disguise include:
- “I have a weakness of working too hard and not making time for myself”
- “I come up with too many great ideas and have difficulty choosing one to stick with”
- “I am a perfectionist that is obsessed with getting every detail right”
Providing an answer like one of the above shows that you have an ego and are not vulnerable enough to share a genuine weakness. This could raise a major red flag to your interviewer on your cultural or personality fit with the firm.
Mistake #3: Sharing a serious weakness that could raise a red flag
When sharing a weakness, you don’t want to pick a weakness that is so shocking or serious that it would immediately remove your candidacy from the applicant pool.
Examples of bad weaknesses to mention:
- “I don’t work well with people. I prefer to work on everything alone.”
- “I often find it hard to stay focused and motivated when working. I require frequent breaks and can’t concentrate for more than 10 minutes straight.”
- “I find it difficult to wake up early in the morning. I typically wake up around noon every day and waking up anytime earlier is basically impossible for me.”
Remember, the best weaknesses to share with your interviewer are improvement areas that a future supervisor or manager might share with you during your first performance review on a new job.
Mistake #4: Not making your answer genuine or believable
Even if you craft the perfect answer to the “what’s your greatest weakness?” question, communicating poorly can ruin your answer.
Try to communicate expressively, putting your feelings and passion into the way that you present your answer. This will make your answer appear more genuine and believable, which goes along way in establishing rapport with your interviewer.
If you communicate in a monotone, without any feelings or interests, the interviewer may not believe your answer and is less likely to be impressed with your answer.
Land your Dream Consulting Job
If you found this article helpful, you’ll love our comprehensive case interview course. The material in the course has helped 6,000+ students across 13+ countries land offers at top-tier consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.
Try the course for free today.
While there are plenty of weaknesses to choose from, here's a list of “good” weaknesses you can consider talking about in your job interview: Being too direct. Difficulty delegating. Overly self-critical.What are the weaknesses of a consulting firm? ›
- Slow Processes.
- Small Client List.
- Limited Services.
- Lack of knowledge of particular software.
- Public speaking.
- Taking criticism.
- Lack of experience.
- Inability to delegate.
- Lack of confidence.
Be honest and choose a real weakness. Provide an example of how you've worked to improve upon your weakness or learn a new skill to combat the issue. Demonstrate self-awareness and an ability to look to others to provide you with the resources necessary for growth. Don't be arrogant and don't underestimate yourself.What's the best weakness interview answer? ›
- Clearly describe your weakness (preferably with specifics, not vague clichés hiring managers have heard hundreds of times).
- Give a short example of a time your weakness affected your work.
- Talk about what you've done to improve your weakness.
- Lack of qualified staff. ...
- Poor business strategy. ...
- Poor market visibility. ...
- Weak financial viability. ...
- Low aesthetic appeal.
- Developing New Clients. ...
- Keeping the Right Resources. ...
- Gaining Project Efficiency. ...
- Innovating New Ideas to Stay Competitive. ...
- Keeping Up With Shifting Client Demands. ...
- Staying Profitable. ...
- Increasing Project Complexity.
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis is a method for identifying and analyzing internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats that shape current and future operations and help develop strategic goals. SWOT analyses are not limited to companies.What are three common weaknesses? ›
Here are some weaknesses that you might select from for your response: Self-critical. Insecure. Disorganized.What are the top 10 weaknesses? ›
- Not taking criticism well.
- Easily bored.
- Takes things personally.
- Strong willed.
- 5 Personality Strengths You Should Know. Brave. Confident. Idealistic. Determined. Humble.
- 5 Personality Weaknesses You Should Know. Being too honest. Hard time letting go of tasks until finished. Giving myself hard time and the deadline to finish work. Too critical of yourself.
Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination. An authentic answer goes a long way. That's why the best solution is to identify your real weaknesses and take proactive measures to address them.What 2 types have the most weaknesses? ›
- 8 Fire.
- 7 Bug.
- 6 Ground.
- 5 Flying.
- 4 Fighting.
- 3 Ice.
- 2 Rock.
- 1 Grass.
1 Human pride is human weakness. 2 I have got over my weakness and fatigue. 3 My weakness is that I care too much. 4 The legislation has a fundamental weakness.How do you nail an interview? ›
- Research the company you are interviewing for. ...
- Study your resume and know it well. ...
- Know the job description of the position you are applying for. ...
- Display your skills with concrete examples. ...
- Prepare an interview tool kit. ...
- Build rapport. ...
- Make eye contact. ...
- Body language.
- What do you personally like most about working for this organisation? ...
- How would you describe your organisation's culture? ...
- Can you tell me about the kind of supervision you provide? ...
- What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
- Where do you see yourself in five years time? ...
- What are your strengths/weaknesses? ...
- Why should I hire you? ...
- Tell me about yourself/your work experience. ...
- Why do you want this job? ...
- What are your salary expectations? ...
- Why are you the right fit to succeed in this role?
- Too self-critical.
- Too critical of other people's work.
- Difficulty delegating tasks.
- Too detail-oriented.
- Need more experience in X.
- Impatient with others.
- Unfamiliar with X.
For starters, I have all the skills and experience listed in the job description, and I'm confident that I can make an immediate impact on your company. It's not just my background in leading successful projects for Fortune 500 companies, but also my passion for the industry that drives me to succeed.What is your biggest strength interview question? ›
- Creative thinking.
- Task prioritization.
- Analytical thinking.
- Communication skills.
Weaknesses are defined as character traits or skills that are considered negative or not as well developed. Weaknesses include blind spots, poorly developed skills, or problematic personal behaviors.What is a corporate weakness? ›
A company weakness is any resource or process that your business lacks, but needs to succeed. Weaknesses limit your company's ability to reach its full potential.What are some management weaknesses? ›
- Inability to Make Decisions. ...
- Poor Communication Skills. ...
- Lack of Confidence. ...
- Poor Time Management. ...
- Lack of Industry Insight. ...
- Poor Team-Building Skills. ...
- Prejudice or Bias. ...
- Unwillingness to Change.
- Demonstrate attention to detail. Being a good consultant is all about sweating the small stuff. ...
- Show you're already thinking like a consultant. ...
- Ask insightful questions. ...
- Practice competency questions. ...
- Show an aptitude for both team work and independent working.
The Big 4 Consulting Firms are PwC, Deloitte, EY, and KPMG. They are the top 4 Consulting firms in the world. They are well known for being the top audit firms in the world. The big four consulting firms are the largest professional service firms in the world.What is the hardest part about consulting? ›
Tight timelines, unreasonable demands, not enough resources, and the list goes on. If you work in this industry long enough, you'll be guaranteed to have one. Difficult Client –Clients are investing lots of money into consultants to solve difficult problems.What are the strengths and weaknesses of your interview position? ›
- 10 Good Answers for “What's your greatest strength?” Flexibility. Dedication. Positive Attitude. Creativity. Leadership. Determination. ...
- 10 Good Answers for “What's your greatest weakness?” Impatience. Self-Criticism. Too Direct. Delegation. Disorganized. Public Speaking.
"My strength is my flexibility to handle change. As customer service manager at my last job, I was able to turn around a negative working environment and develop a very supportive team. As far as weaknesses, I feel that my management skills could be stronger, and I am constantly working to improve them."What should I put for weaknesses in a SWOT analysis? ›
In a SWOT Analysis, weaknesses are written in the top right quadrant. They highlight the internal weaknesses that you or your organization need to address to meet your goals. Examples of weaknesses for a SWOT analysis might include lack of motivation, lack of a clear vision, or poor time management skills.What are individual weaknesses? ›
A personal weakness is an ability, knowledge area or character trait that falls short in respect to a particular role or task. It is common to ask for personal weaknesses as part of application processes, interviews and professional development activities.
Psychic-types are weak against Bug, Ghost, and Dark-type Pokemon.What is a weakness of a leader? ›
Leadership weaknesses include poor communication skills, inability to delegate tasks, and low self-confidence. You can develop good leadership abilities by identifying your own weakness and practicing good leadership habits and skills.Is Overthinking a weakness? ›
Is Overthinking a Weakness? Overthinking can be viewed as both a strength and a weakness; it is, therefore, not a strong answer to give when asked about your weaknesses at interview. What is this? In some respects, someone that overthinks can be perceived to be unsure of themselves and their decision-making.How to introduce yourself in interview? ›
- Greet Your Interviewers. ...
- Let Your Interviewers Know About Your Educational Background. ...
- An Alternate Approach for Seasoned Professionals. ...
- A Line or Two on Your Passions and Hobbies. ...
- The Vital Closing Statement.
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. ...
- Take care of yourself. ...
- Take care of your body. ...
- Make time to unwind. ...
- Talk to others. ...
- Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol.
- Understand your pressures. Think about all of the pressures you have. ...
- Get organised. Organising your time can help you feel more in control. ...
- Take it slowly. ...
- Vary your tasks. ...
- Accept things you cannot change.
Can you tell me more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role? Asking this question enables you to learn as much about the role as possible. The interviewer's response will provide insight into what skills and experience are needed, and will also help you decide if the role is right for you.How do you see yourself 5 years from now? ›
I would like to be financially independent and gain more time-to-time knowledge in the company's goals. And to get a respected position that is my future endeavour to easy. As a person, I want to be a more skilled, more capable person. As a professional, I see myself as handling more responsibilities.What is Grass type weakness? ›
From an attacking perspective, Grass-type attacks are strong against Water-, Rock-, and Ground-type Pokémon and weak against Bug-, Fire-, Flying-, Grass-, Poison-, Dragon-, and Steel-type Pokémon. In a battle, you can tell if an attack is strong or weak by the prompts that appear on screen.What is dark type weakness? ›
Dark-Type Weaknesses and Counters. Dark-type Pokemon are weak to Bug, Fairy, and Fighting-type Pokemon.
Alongside Normal, Electric is the type with the least weaknesses. Ground moves are the only moves super effective against Electric Pokémon, and Electric-type moves have no effect on Ground Pokémon.What is weakness in one word? ›
1 fragility. 2 flaw. 3 penchant, passion, hunger, appetite.Is impatience a weakness in interview? ›
You Can Be Impatient
The best way to address being impatient as a common job interview weakness is to reframe it as a positive. You are not impatient, you're enthusiastic. You approach each task and project with energy and optimism that it can be completed efficiently and ahead of schedule.
- Self-criticism. I can be quite critical of myself, which can lead to negative self-talk and eventual burnout. ...
- Fear of public speaking. I am a naturally shy person. ...
- Procrastination. ...
- Issues with delegating tasks. ...
- Lack of experience with skill or software.
"My strength is my flexibility to handle change. As customer service manager at my last job, I was able to turn around a negative working environment and develop a very supportive team. As far as weaknesses, I feel that my management skills could be stronger, and I am constantly working to improve them."How do you turn weakness into strength interview? ›
- Actions for improvement. This is the number one point to remember! ...
- Make sure it isn't essential. Make sure whatever weakness you select is not an essential requirement to be successful in the role. ...
- Be authentic. ...
- Select the way something makes you feel.
Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination. An authentic answer goes a long way. That's why the best solution is to identify your real weaknesses and take proactive measures to address them.What are strength weaknesses? ›
Strengths are defined as character traits or skills that are considered positive. Strengths include knowledge, attributes, skills, and talents. Weaknesses are just the opposite. Weaknesses are defined as character traits or skills that are considered negative or not as well developed.What you should not say in an interview? ›
- “So, Tell Me What You Do Around Here” ...
- “Ugh, My Last Company…” ...
- “I Didn't Get Along With My Boss” ...
- 4. “ ...
- “I'll Do Whatever” ...
- “I Know I Don't Have Much Experience, But...”
While many people, including socially anxious and shy people themselves, consider shyness to be in general a weakness, there are in fact several strengths this condition brings about. The strengths themselves go against what is considered to be the standard convention, which is why they do not appear to be strengths.
- Too self-critical.
- Too critical of other people's work.
- Difficulty delegating tasks.
- Too detail-oriented.
- Need more experience in X.
Lack of confidence is a common weakness, especially among entry-level contributors. Experiencing a lack of confidence can sometimes cause inefficiencies in your work. For example, you might feel too unqualified to speak up at an important meeting when your idea could help the team to achieve a goal.Why should I focus on my weaknesses? ›
Focusing On Your Weakness Is A Strength In Disguise
The willingness to accept your weaknesses in the interest of self-improvement is actually a vital strength.