List of Weaknesses: 10 Things To Say in an Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 28 July 2022 | Published 25 August 2020

Updated 28 July 2022

Published 25 August 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It can be hard to answer the question, 'What are your weaknesses?'–especially when you expected to be discussing the capabilities, skills and talents that make you the best candidate for the job. Framing your weaknesses positively can be challenging, but when you combine self-awareness with an action plan, you can quickly stand apart from other job candidates.

In this article, we explain how to answer the 'What are your weaknesses?' question and provide some example responses.

Why do employers ask 'What are your weaknesses?'

Employers ask candidates about their weaknesses to assess their self-awareness, honesty and ability to improve. They also likely want to see what you have already done to improve upon your weaknesses and what you plan to do to keep getting better.

How to answer 'What are your weaknesses?'

Here are a few examples of the best weaknesses to mention in an interview:

1. I focus too much on the details

Being 'detail-oriented' is typically a positive skill, but if you tend to spend too much time on the specifics of a project, it could also be considered a weakness. By mentioning that you focus too much on details, you're showing to the hiring manager that you're capable of helping the company avoid even minor mistakes.

Example: 'One of my greatest weaknesses is that I sometimes focus too much on the details of a project. I have been striving to improve in this area by better monitoring how long I spend on a task and allowing myself to re-focus on the project at large. That way, I can still ensure high quality while maintaining my productivity and helping my team to meet deadlines.'

2. I have a hard time letting go of a project

Some people are natural perfectionists, making lots of last-minute changes to make sure everything is perfect. The problem with this weakness is that it can impact deadlines. If this is your weakness, share how you're trying to get better at letting projects go by giving yourself a deadline for all revisions.

Example: 'My greatest weakness is that I sometimes have a hard time letting go of a project. I'm the biggest critic of my work, and I can always find something that needs to be improved or changed. To help myself improve in this area, I give myself deadlines for revisions and try to avoid making too many last-minute changes.'

3. I have trouble saying no

From an employer's perspective, someone who is always willing to help is an asset. However, this asset can become a weakness when you end up submitting your work late because you've spent so much time helping others. Share how you're working to better self-manage by organising your tasks and setting boundaries in how much time you can spare to help others.

Example: 'My greatest weakness is that I sometimes have trouble saying no to requests and end up taking on more than I can handle. I now use a project management app so I can see how much work I have at any moment and understand when I have time to help others.'

Related: How To Politely Say No

4. I feel stressed when projects run beyond the deadline

Whilst expressing your stress or frustration at work is a weakness, employers also value employees who strive to meet deadlines and understand how important it is to submit work on time. In your response, focus on the fact that you believe meeting deadlines is vital for everyone to be as productive as possible.

Example: 'One of my greatest weaknesses is that I feel very stressed when projects I work on go past the deadline. I have always been punctual, and I feel strongly about submitting things on time. To help reduce the stress, I've started a course on mindfulness meditation to help recognise my feelings and let them pass without attaching to them too much.'

Related: 8 tips for the management of stress when you’re at work

5. I could use more experience in…

Every person has something they could improve at or gain more experience in. Sharing that you want to gain more experience at a relevant skill or quality shows the hiring manager that you're self-aware and like to challenge yourself. Make sure, however, that you do not answer with a weakness that is important to the role.

Example: 'Some of my greatest weaknesses include my inability to share responsibilities and staying patient during group projects. I have discussed these weaknesses with my manager as areas I would like to improve. We have set up a timeline and goals for me to attain. I have participated in several team-building workshops. I am learning to let go and trust other people.'

Related: What To Say in an Interview

6. I sometimes have trouble asking for help

Whilst you may want to solve problems at work on your own, it can be your weakness. Being independent is a positive quality for many jobs, but it's best to know when to ask for help to make sure tasks are done well and on-time. If you're using this as your weakness, explain that you understand why asking for help is a good idea and how you're trying to get better at it.

Example: 'Because I am independent and enjoy figuring out solutions myself, I've struggled sometimes with asking for help when I need it. I understand that at any organisation, there are experts around me that have specific knowledge and skills I can learn from. Whilst I am still working on it, I have been able to produce better work in a more time-efficient way as a result of getting help from those around me.'

7. It has been difficult for me to work with certain personalities

Even the most flexible people can have trouble working with others that have certain characteristics or personality traits. Having good teamwork skills also means having a strong awareness of how you work with others and ways you can adjust your approach to better serve the organisation. If this is your weakness, explain the personality types you have had trouble working with and give a good reason why.

Example: 'Whilst I understand that a range of personality types strengthen a business, I tend to keep my ideas to myself around louder, more forthright colleagues. To overcome this weakness, I now make an effort to spend more time with these colleagues who are always able to speak up freely. By learning more about them, their communication style and their motivations, I am better able to collaborate with these personality types so that we both equally contribute our strengths and skills.'

Related: How to deal with difficult personalities in the workplace

8. I sometimes struggle to keep a healthy work/life balance

Finding work/life balance is important to maintain motivation in your job. Spending a lot of time and energy on your work shows your strong work ethic, but it is also necessary to find time for your family, friends and hobbies. If this is the weakness you want to talk about, explain the ways you have made it a point to find a balance between life and work and how you have seen your work improve as a result.

Example: 'Because I truly love my work and I am very ambitious, I sometimes find it difficult to set boundaries between my work and personal life. I have seen a negative impact on my motivation and focus when I ignore my personal needs. To overcome this weakness, I now try to emphasise creating time in my schedule to spend with my family. Small changes, such as putting my phone on silent, have made a huge difference. Having more balance in my life between work and leisure makes me more productive at work.'

9. In the past, I have been uncomfortable with ambiguity

Many jobs require employees who are thoughtful, experienced and responsible with ambiguity in the workplace. Whilst it's certainly a beneficial skill to carefully follow detailed instructions, it's also important to be able to determine what it takes to realise the desired outcome. If this is the weakness you're mentioning in an interview, discuss the success you have found following instructions and finding comfort with ambiguity. Then, explain the steps you're taking to complete ambiguous tasks.

Example: 'Because I prefer clearer directions, I tend to be sceptical when approaching a confusing assignment or goal. That is why I have created a personal framework for times when I feel confused or overwhelmed by an ambiguous task, including performing structured research and asking experts for advice. Doing so has helped me become successful when working on ambiguous tasks or when working towards less defined or specific goals.'

10. I sometimes lack confidence

Lack of confidence is a common weakness that can cause inefficiencies in your work. Being humble when working with others can be helpful, but it's also important to be confident to do your job at an optimal level. If this is the weakness you're presenting in your interview, discuss the steps you have taken to improve your confidence and how your actions have resulted in success.

Example: 'My greatest weakness is that I sometimes lack confidence, which is why I have difficulty speaking up in groups. Even if I have great ideas, I have difficulty sharing them with others. For this reason, I decided that it was time to take speaking and acting classes. These classes helped me learn to separate my shy self from my professional self.'

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