Good Weaknesses For A Job Interview (With Example Answers)

By Chris Kolmar - Apr. 24, 2021

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As you prepare for your upcoming interview, you’re likely reviewing the job listing, brushing up on your knowledge about the company, and going through mock interview questions. If so, you’re already off to a great start by avoiding the most common interview blunders.

You can count on some of the most frequently asked questions in an interview being centered around your greatest strengths and weaknesses. Are you prepared to discuss those topics?

For many people, these types of questions can be treading into uncomfortable waters. You need to provide an insightful, honest answer without bragging or underselling yourself. If you can do that successfully, you’ll be demonstrating an impressive degree of self-awareness and professionalism to a prospective employer.

Scripting answers about your strengths and weaknesses is a good use of your preparation time. Even if a hiring manager doesn’t ask you about these points specifically, you will likely still have multiple opportunities to incorporate them into your responses to provide a candid description of what you can offer the company and identify opportunities to improve your weaknesses.

List of Weaknesses for Job Interviews

Of course, it’s not much fun to reflect on your failures and make a list of what you’re not good at. But it’s also not a great impression when the recruitment manager asks about your weaknesses, and you arrogantly reply, “I don’t have any.”

Obviously, that’s not true. Being able to analyze your own weaknesses and discuss how you plan to address them as an adaptable and motivated individual eager for self-improvement can actually turn into a strength in disguise if you handle this discussion correctly. Some examples of weaknesses include:

  • Afraid to ask questions

  • Disorganized

  • Inability to balance workload

  • Introvert

  • Lack of confidence

  • Limited experience

  • Overly competitive

  • Poor communicator

  • Poor delegation skills

  • Procrastinator

  • Self-critical

  • Uncomfortable with public speaking

  • Tendency to take on more responsibility than you can handle

  • Too detail-oriented or not detail-oriented enough

  • Too focused or unfocused

  • Uncomfortable taking risks

Some of the items on this list, such as competitiveness, can actually be strengths. But if you take these strengths a degree too far on a regular basis, they become weaknesses, so it’s important to provide some context when discussing your weaknesses with a potential new employer.

Also, if you’re a natural-born introvert, check out some extra tips to help introverts survive the interview.

Why Do Interviewers Ask About Weaknesses?

This interview question can provide a hiring manager with a surprisingly accurate insight into the type of person they’re interviewing based on what skills, habits, and personality traits are revealed in an applicant’s answer.

Are you a candidate who is so conceited that you think you’re perfect and don’t have any weaknesses? On the flip side, are you hypercritical of yourself and ready to nitpick every tiny little mistake you’ve ever made?

Or, are you someone who is capable of stepping back with an objective mind, analyzing your own weaknesses, and thinking about how to better yourself? This is the type of employee companies are looking for.

Keep in mind that the interviewer isn’t trying to trick you. This is a behavioral interview question, and trying to spin it around by listing a strength instead of a weakness without providing any context is one of the worst things you can do in a job interview.

A hiring manager uses communication interview questions in the hopes that your answer will provide a good indicator as to whether or not you’ll be a good fit for the job. If you’re applying for a customer service position and claim one of your greatest weaknesses is that you aren’t a “people person,” that’s a big red flag.

How to Answer Interview Questions About Weaknesses

The good news is, there’s a formula that has proven to be effective time and again when you’re discussing your weaknesses:

  1. State your weakness.

  2. Provide context by using a story or example in your professional life.

  3. Describe how identifying this weakness has changed your perspective.

  4. If applicable, list any steps you have taken or plan to take to correct your weakness.

The most important part of this formula is Step #2, where you provide context about your weakness. Remember, this question isn’t designed for you to simply say, “I struggle with being overly competitive,” and then move on to the next topic. An employer wants to gauge your level of self-awareness and commitment to professional growth.

List of Strengths for Job Interviews

When considering your strengths, sometimes it’s helpful to reach out to friends, family, and colleagues and ask what they think your best qualities are. This can help you ensure that you’re choosing your true strengths rather than just the strengths you would like to think you have. Some examples of strengths include:

  • Action-oriented

  • Assertive

  • Collaborative

  • Committed / Dedicated

  • Creative

  • Detail-oriented

  • Determined

  • Empathetic

  • Entrepreneurial

  • Focused

  • Good listener

  • Leader

  • Lifelong learner

  • Honest

  • Innovative

  • Open to constructive criticism

  • Passionate

  • Patient

  • Respectful

  • Team player

  • Time Management

  • Versatile / Flexible

Just like with weaknesses, some qualities that are considered strengths to an appropriate degree may become weaknesses if in excess. This is where providing additional context can help to distinguish.

Hard Skills

Your hard skills are the skills you picked up from training, whether it was in the classroom, on the job, or through a different means, and can be listed as either strengths or weaknesses.

Examples of hard skills could include knowledge of specific computer programs or machinery, languages, management, marketing, technical and analytical skills, writing, design, accounting, and career-specific skills, among many others.

For example, knowledge of Microsoft PowerPoint would be considered a hard skill.

Soft Skills

Your soft skills can be equally valuable depending on the type of job you’re seeking. These types of skills fall more in line with personality traits and are much more difficult to quantify.

Examples of soft skills could include critical thinking, leadership, an optimistic attitude, teamwork, communication skills, work ethic, adaptability, conflict resolution, flexibility, problem-solving, research skills, creativity, and integrity, among many others.

For example, being an empathetic listener would be considered a soft skill.

How to Answer “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”

Some interviewers will ask about your strengths and weaknesses in a single question, while others may break the topics up into two or more questions. If the recruitment manager takes the first route, be sure to discuss your weakness first, then your strength. This way, you can end the question on a positive note.

Carefully consider the type of job to which you are applying, and utilize that job description to decide which weaknesses and strengths you want to highlight. Is this a technical kind of career where your hard skills are more valuable, or would it be more beneficial to showcase your soft skills instead?

Follow the formula shown in the earlier example (weakness, context, perspective, improvement). Below are some examples of sample responses to help you draw inspiration using your own life experiences:

Example Answers to “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”

  1. I’m a perfectionist. That isn’t always a bad trait, but it can cause me to fixate on the tiniest details of a project and risk missing deadlines when I get bogged down, especially if I’m focused on fixing something relatively inconsequential in the grand scheme of the project.

  2. That’s exactly what almost happened earlier in my career when I almost missed the deadline on my deliverables because I was laboring away over the details. I caused my manager a lot of stress on that project.

    After that, I focused on learning how to find a balance between absolute perfection and good enough to meet the parameters on time. I try to be more aware of how my timetable affects my team and supervisors.

  3. I was never great at English and grammar in school, but soon into my professional career, I realized that my poor writing skills were negatively impacting my ability to communicate with my colleagues.

    I wanted to work my way up into a management position, and I knew my written communication skills were unacceptable to reach that goal, so I enrolled in online classes and downloaded additional learning apps to improve my skills.

    While I may not be ready to open the next American classic, I’ve noticed a substantial improvement, and more importantly, so have my coworkers.

  4. I’ve always had a tendency to be hyper self-critical. This pattern of negativity has caused me to feel stressed and anxious, and I quickly burn out when it becomes too much to handle. After identifying this negative mindset, I started consciously taking time to pause and celebrate my successes, even the small ones.

    Over the last couple of years, this has drastically helped to improve my self-esteem and overall attitude, and it’s also allowed me to be better about recognizing my teammates and other support systems.

  5. I’m an introvert, which prevented me from speaking up and actively engaging with people during my school days as well as my early professional career. After my sales team failed to meet its goal three quarters in a row, I felt like I’d failed my teammates by not sharing my ideas that could have helped us succeed.

    I joined a writing club and started performing my spoken word pieces at poetry slams and other events.

    Standing up in front of a crowd and reading my written work has been a monumental step forward in overcoming my shyness and lack of confidence, and now when I’m in a professional group setting, I make a point to start conversations with the quieter clients because I know exactly how they feel.

    I’ve found that being the ice-breaker can really help other introverts open up and start talking.

  6. I sometimes struggle with asking questions because I often have the mindset that I can solve any problem on my own.

    While this sort of determination to push forward without bothering my supervisors has sometimes helped me in the past, it’s also caused some headaches that could have been avoided if I had simply reached out to someone more knowledgeable and asked for help.

    For instance, last year, I was tasked with a big project but received incomplete instructions. After trial-and-error and twice as much time as the project should have taken, I finally completed my task, but I could have been much more efficient if I had reached out and asked for clearer directions.

    Since that project, I’ve been training myself to take a step back, think about if I’m working as efficiently as I could be with all the necessary tools and information, and reach out for assistance and resources if necessary.

  7. Procrastination has always been one of my greatest weaknesses. I used to think it was a personal bad habit that created undue stress on myself, but several years ago, when I was working on a group project, I realized that my tendency to procrastinate was negatively impacting my teammates.

    That was the wake-up call I needed to start proactively trying to break the habit. I started creating daily schedules to manage my time better and hold myself accountable. It was really hard for me at first, but now my workflow and mindset have greatly improved, and my teammates are much less stressed when I’m working with them on a group project.

Final Thoughts

Discussing your strengths and weaknesses may be uncomfortable for many people, and there’s no shame in taking your time if you aren’t sure how to answer an interview question. The key takeaway is being honest and striking a balance between being humble and coming across as conceited.

Unless you’re applying for a position as a comedian, don’t make jokes. A serious question deserves a serious answer.

Planning your answers before the interview will help to guarantee you provide a thorough, well-thought response that perfectly aligns your skills and habits with the job description. By providing relevant context, you will stand apart as a candidate who turned a weakness into a challenge for self-improvement.

You should also be prepared with interview questions of your own, so you have an answer when the hiring manager finishes with, “Do you have any questions for me?

It’s important not to underestimate yourself. You’ve got this!

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Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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