The interview process allows hiring managers and coworkers to get to know you and what you are likely to bring to the organization. One of the common ways is the classic question, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
Many people have different approaches to this question. But the objectively smart way to answer is identifying two or three weaknesses that have nothing to do with the job. This usually means soft skills that have no measurable impact on the role you are applying for.
After stating your weaknesses, follow up with how you are improving or plan on improving on them, all while being as honest as possible without sharing too much.
It is a delicate balance to meet. That is why it is important to rehearse scripted answers beforehand, to say something that reveals a high degree of self-awareness and professionalism.
I have compiled a list of weaknesses to choose from, along with examples of great answers guaranteed to impress an interviewer.
Also Read: 20 Professional Development Goal Examples
You always feel you could have done more, even when you have delivered objectively good results. You obsess over the impact of the flaws, regardless of their actual influence on the project’s overall quality.
“I tend to be too critical of myself. It leads to negative self-talk and burnout. I have been improving this over the past year by taking special time after completing a project to celebrate myself.”
Independent and untrusting, you prefer to do everything yourself because you do not trust others to execute tasks at your standards. This often means having a lot on your plate and inevitably failing to meet deadlines.
“If I had to choose a significant weakness, it is an inability to delegate responsibilities. To improve, I allocate tasks with detailed instructions on how to carry them out, limiting additional input to those who execute perfectly.”
As someone who strives for excellence, you purposely look for the problem in everything. Even when you are right, you sometimes take it too far, alienating your coworkers in the process.
How to Answer:
“I am great at analyzing a situation and picking out its problems, but this sometimes comes at the expense of the efficiency of my coworkers. I don’t plan on compromising on quality, but I am learning to be empathetic in my approach.”
Your dominant perspective focuses mainly on short-term solutions to reap the immediate rewards. This often means you miss out on future benefits and problems.
How to answer:
“Out of the desire to solve problems quickly, I struggle with balancing short-term solutions and long-term impact. That is why I have incorporated a 30-minute window where I exclusively think about future ramifications before making a consequential decision.”
It is hard for you to focus on one thing at a given moment. Instead of paying attention to one thing, then the other, you pay little to everything all at once.
“One weakness I am working on is my ability to multitask. As someone who gets distracted easily, I use [productivity software] to dedicate time to each task, no matter how small. So far, there has been an improvement in my attention levels.”
Your inability to take a moment to reflect before making a decision means making the wrong choice sometimes. You also struggle with allocating your time, which means you rush things and overlook crucial details in the process.
“I rush to make decisions without considering all the factors involved. Unsurprisingly, it affected the quality of my work. Now, I make myself wait before making a decision and reach out to others to discover if I have missed anything in my thought process.”
You are constantly changing your mind, unable to commit to one plan or choice. This leads to decision paralysis and has kept you from getting things done quickly and excellently.
How to Answer:
“Decision paralysis is a weakness of mine. When I have too many responsibilities or choices to make, I get consumed by doubt and make wrong moves. Over the past two years, I have been improving by breaking responsibilities into smaller, streamlined processes and trusted my team members to facilitate the decision-making process.”
Years of reading and writing mean words come easy to you. However, you struggle with keeping your thoughts to yourself or express yourself succinctly.
“I love talking to people, and I am never short of a worthwhile topic. But it can have a distracting effect on others. So I find less distracting ways to express myself. And if I absolutely must speak, I set a mental timer to keep things short.”
Being an introvert, you find it hard to share your ideas with others, even when they are good. Building a rapport with your team is also a challenge because you prefer your own company.
“I am an introvert, which means I tend to keep to myself a lot. But after losing out on a promotion because I didn’t fit the role, I have been taking improv classes to get comfortable with spending time with others.”
Your outgoing personality means you attract a lot of attention, keeping you and others from focusing on their work. It also means you have a hard time making emotionless judgments, especially when it involves others.
“My extroversion makes it easy for me to connect with people, but I have a hard time keeping to myself in the workplace, so much that others find it hard to complete their work when I am around. To fix this, I …”
You wear your heart on your sleeve, which affects your ability to make objective decisions. As a sensitive soul, you tend to take things personally when they go wrong.
“I am an emotional person, and it can be hard for me to think clearly about a situation. However, I have been working with a coach, learning how to detach my emotions when making a decision.”
Although it improves your rationality, your insensitive nature tends to drum up conflict with your coworkers. You don’t take others into account and usually do things your way.
“As someone with a history of insensitivity, I have struggled with maintaining a positive relationship with coworkers. Having realized the problem, I watch my tone and my choice of words, especially when I am offering criticism.”
Once you are used to one way of doing things, you don’t want it to change. You can’t imagine other ways of executing a task, thus limiting your capabilities when facing a new challenge.
“I naturally prefer the stability of doing things the conventional way, but I recognize how that limits my creativity. To fix it, I have been throwing myself into new situations, albeit inconsequential, to improve my mental flexibility.”
Leaving everything to the last possible moment is your modus operandi. You are motivated by the pressure of trying to meet the deadline, and you don’t always succeed.
“My biggest weakness is procrastination. I always find an excuse not to do something until it is no longer avoidable. But I’ve been doing better by breaking my work into smaller chunks to be completed over time.”
You are obsessed with getting everything right, so you micromanage every little detail. This simultaneously distracts from your work while keeping others from growing as independent workers.
“I am passionate about control and perfection, but I have since realized it is a prison that keeps me from focusing on the bigger picture. Now, I channel my energy into finding people I trust to perform excellently.”
You take on additional responsibilities when you can’t handle them because you struggle with disappointing others. Scared of pissing off people, you let bad ideas dominate, even when you have better ones.
“I find it hard to turn others down out of fear of disappointing them, even at the cost of my work. Eventually, someone recognized the pattern, and I have been learning to say no a lot more.”
You take on too many responsibilities to prove your value, regardless of your job description. It leaves you with no room for work/life balance and plenty of failed deadlines.
“As someone with ambitious goals, I regularly ignore my personal needs for more work. But it has hurt the quality of my work. So, now I make a substantial effort to stick only to responsibilities within my job description.”
Your honest comments and feedback about other’s work can be a recurring source of tension, especially when they are ill-timed. It is also hard for you to strike a balance between honesty and rudeness.
“I am blunt, which can either be a strength or weakness depending on the company culture. When it is a weakness, I try to deploy a lot of empathy without compromising on honesty. So far, it is working.”
A common weakness that could be due to your personality or a result of inefficiencies in your work. It prevents you from owning your ideas, sharing them, and working at an optimal level.
“For years, I’ve struggled to maintain confidence in myself, even when I have every reason to be. I focus too much on what I got wrong than what I got right. Knowing how important confidence is to the quality of my work, I have been documenting my daily achievements to appreciate what I bring to the table better.”
A misguided belief in your ability to solve every problem on your own. When you are right, it is a strength, but it results in substandard work and damaged confidence when you are not.
“Over the years, I have struggled with asking for help because I worry about the perception of my abilities. But I understand now that it is beneficial to myself and the organization to do so when I need it. Especially when it is outside my field.”
Without detailed instructions, you lack the sense of direction to achieve a goal. The ambiguity of your tasks and how to carry them out overwhelms or confuses you.
“In the past, I have struggled with ambiguity in my roles, and it kept me from securing leadership positions. Since recognizing the problem, I have developed a framework for meeting my KPI with or without detailed instructions.”
When the stakes are high, you crumble under pressure. You make mistakes you wouldn’t make in ordinary circumstances, and you come across as less qualified than you are.
“When I started working, I discovered that my productivity decreases when I am under pressure. While that has not exactly changed, I take proactive steps to reduce the amount of pressure I am under at any given time.”
To avoid confrontation and tell coworkers what they need to hear, you compromise on quality. This weakness forces you to sometimes take on responsibilities beyond the scope of your work.
“I always try to avoid confrontation to keep the peace. But when I became a leader, I’ve been working on ways to tell people what they need to hear constructively and helpfully.”
You spend an excessive amount of time pouring over the details of each project. It keeps you stuck and slows down your work, causing you to meet deadlines, even if the final result is excellent.
“As someone who delights in going over the minutiae of every detail, I’ve had to learn the hard way that it is more important to be finished than to be perfect.”
It is impossible to be perfect. But as a perfectionist, you are often unsatisfied and disillusioned because the real world never matches your imagination. It also affects your expectations and relationship with your teammates.
“I am always seeking perfection, which makes me work on projects long after I should have finished. Having seen how this affects not just other tasks on my plate but also my coworkers, I now focus on making them perfect for the client instead of myself.”
The lack of a work/life balance, in the long run, affects your motivation in your job. When you don’t tend to your personal needs over an extended period, the quality of your work suffers.
“I used to be always working, opposed to having any kind of life outside of the office. But it only left a negative impact on my output. After a period of self-reflection, I have put systems in place to help me strike a better balance between both sides of my life.”
You find it hard to share in the emotions of others, which can make you come across as a downer when you are working with a group of people.
“One of my weaknesses is that I can be very indifferent. It takes a lot of effort for me to share in others’ enthusiasm, but I recognize that I can overcome this if I keep an open mind with new experiences.”
Convinced that my choice and opinion is always the right one, you impose it on others. You go out of your way to make sure only your ideas win.
“I’ve been told that I tend to be pushy with my ideas, dismissing those of others. I recognize this is a weakness, and I have been working with a therapist to tone down my aggressive stances.”
You have trouble doing something for someone else unless there is a personal gain for you. At every point during your interactions, your principal focus is yourself.
“For the past year, I have made a point of doing something for someone else with zero personal benefits after discovering that I can be selfish and self-absorbed. It has enabled me to insert myself into other points of view and make well-thought decisions.”
Springing work on you or throwing you into unplanned situations makes you uncomfortable and affects your performance. You work better when you are prepared.
“I have trouble delivering without proper preparation. Since it is avoidable in this line of work, I make a point of being 70% prepared at any point in time, and I am learning to trust my instincts for the rest of the way.”
Keeping things in order, meeting appointments, and having your ducks in a row is challenging for you. Your mind tends to wander, and this seeps into your productivity.
“It is fair to say disorganization is my biggest weakness, and it has been a struggle in the past. To deal with it, I use a daily checklist that helps me keep track of my affairs, and the results have been encouraging. I made it here on time.”
You spend a lot of time thinking about your actions. This pensive personality makes you slow, and it takes forever for you to complete your work.
“I can be slow sometimes, which is not great when speed is the goal. But I figured out that I take my time because I think a lot about each action. To strike a better balance, I’ve been learning to trust my instincts and dive in headfirst.”
You don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the repercussions of your actions. You love taking risks because of the thrill, with little regard for the cost.
“I love taking risks, especially when they are uncalculated. It is exciting when they work out, but I understand the damage when they don’t, especially in a professional setting. So, without compromising on who I am, I decided to …”
Once you have made up your mind, nothing can change it. While your determination can be a strength, it keeps you from changing course after a mistake.
“I find it hard to change my mind after making a decision. It turned out to be a real weakness because I became difficult to deal with. So I have been …”
You are afraid of sharing your ideas and opinions with others. You live semi-permanently in a state of fear, worrying that you are doing the wrong thing.
“I have an irrational fear of failure, one that keeps me from expressing my thoughts. It was an overwhelming feeling for a long time until I decided to face my fear and put myself out there, damning the consequences. Although I still feel that fear, I am now capable of powering through it towards my goals.”
An inability to properly allocate resources, determine the direction and strategize in pursuit of a future goal.
“When I have to think long term, I am overwhelmed by the uncertainty and length of the runway it takes to achieve my goals. So I am learning to overcome this by breaking things down into short and medium-term projects, which I am more comfortable with.”
You are always sure you have the superior argument, opinion, or idea. You never compromise, making it hard for you to work with others, especially as part of a team.
“I used to think compromise is the result of having a poor argument. Now I have since realized that inflexibility and strict adherence to my ideas and opinions makes it harder to build consensus around my goals.”
You have trouble focusing on a task at a time because you get bored quickly, causing delays in project completion. The boredom can also result in missing important details.
“My weakness is that I get bored easily, especially when I try to focus on one thing at a stretch. However, I have gotten a stronger handle on it by crafting a personal narrative around each stage of my work.”
You don’t have any real experience as a public speaker and have zero confidence that anyone is interested in what you have to say.
“One thing I struggle with is public presentation. It gives me so much anxiety and concern. Still, as someone who wishes to become a leader, I have been taking public speaking courses to better myself.”
You are more comfortable with silliness, so you turn everything into a joke, even when inappropriate.
“I love laughing and having fun, but sometimes I forget the line and overstep in serious moments. Although it is still a work in progress, I have been learning to take cues from my audience before making a joke.”
There you have it. The cool thing about these weaknesses is that several of them can also double as a strength. It all comes down to how you phrase your answer and the company’s culture.
So, endeavor to find out before your interview and make sure to tailor these sample answers according to your story. Do this with good practice, and you will stand out from the pack.
Images from Unsplash.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.