Weaknesses for Job Interviews: 8 Example Answers for 2023
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- Choose a weakness that’s sincere and easy to improve but not crucial to the role.
- Base your weakness on a hard skill or soft skill instead of a personality trait.
- Discuss what your weakness looks like in practice, its impact, and what you’re doing to overcome it.
No job candidate is perfect. Everyone has professional weaknesses—but how you frame them during an interview can impact whether you get the job offer.
Danica Ristic, Deel’s senior people development program manager, says recruiters and hiring managers ask you to identify a weakness to determine three things:
- How self-aware you are
- Which weakness you believe is worth mentioning
- How you’ll manage the weakness moving forward
Here’s how to identify a good weakness and confidently answer this common interview question during your job search.
How to identify a good weakness
Depending on your work experience, you may or may not already know your weaknesses. Even if you have a weakness in mind, it might not be the right answer to this particular job interview question.
Follow these five tips to identify a good weakness:
Review the job description
First, read the job description for the open role. You should see the key qualifications or skills required for the new job.
Here’s a job description from Deel’s current openings as an example:
In this job description, the ideal candidate will have strong project management, time management, and communication skills, so the weakness you highlight shouldn’t fall under any of those categories.
“The weakness should be relevant to your career growth but not crucial to the role,” explained Ristic. “Someone who leads can’t have issues with working with others, and someone who is a recruiter can’t be shy.”
Instead, you could discuss which programs or software you have less experience with and how you’re prepared to remedy that inexperience by proactively learning about the product.
Reflect on previous feedback
Camila Sanchez, a member of Deel’s talent acquisition team, says, “The best way to identify a weakness is to analyze a skill or quality that can become excessive or has generated conflict in the past.”
To see which skills, qualities, or habits you can use as a weakness, review previous performance reviews, feedback from peers, and self-assessments. Weaknesses are often mentioned in the “areas of improvement” section of these documents. You might come across a weakness you’ve improved since the initial review—consider using this as your answer, as it shows initiative and dedication to self-improvement.
Pick a weakness that’s easy to improve
If you choose a weakness that’s difficult to improve, you may lose out on the job offer.
For example, lacking tact or being too blunt is a personality trait that may seem abrasive to peers and contribute to a negative work environment.
Improving a soft skill (such as time management) or a hard skill (like knowing a specific system) is often much easier, as there are courses and apps to support your development.
Choose a real weakness
The hiring manager or recruiter doesn’t expect you to be perfect—they want to get to know the real you, which requires a real answer.
“Choose an actual weakness (not ‘being a perfectionist’) and make sure it’s relevant to your professional development,” says Ristic.
Answering the weakness question with “I don’t have any weaknesses” can come off as arrogant or lacking in self-awareness. But if you’re not prepared to answer the question, you’ll lose the opportunity to demonstrate your experience, growth, and willingness to learn.
“Be transparent if you haven’t got an answer for this question and avoid making something up on the spot,” recommends Huw Sensier, who works in talent acquisition at Deel. “If you’re not aware of your current weakness(es), then your weakness may be self-awareness.”
Focus on the positive
How you frame a weakness is important. Instead of speaking negatively, talk about the ideal result (overcoming the weakness) and how you’ll work to get there.
“I’m an introvert and have a hard time speaking in front of people.”
“I’m working on becoming a more confident public speaker, as I used to be quite shy.”
While both answers communicate the same weakness, the first focuses on the negative aspect of the weakness. The second answer frames the weakness as a skill that can be improved with practice or mentorship. The answer also indicates you’re working towards improvement and have already grown in confidence and skill.
What to include in your answer
When hiring managers ask, “What’s your biggest weakness?” they’re looking for more than just a one-word answer.
Here’s what to include in your response:
- What your weakness looks like in practice: Tell a story about when you first encountered your weakness in your personal or professional life
- How your weakness impacts your life: Make a clear connection between your weakness and your professional life. Or, discuss how you ensured a personal weakness didn’t impact your work
- Your improvement plan: Discuss the steps you took (or are taking) to turn your weakness into a strength. Pursuing self-improvement could include taking courses, implementing an app or process, seeking out a mentor, or practicing
Examples of weaknesses
Below, we provide a common list of weaknesses and sample answers you can use to inspire your unique response.
Fear of public speaking
Many workers aren’t comfortable speaking in front of team members due to a lack of confidence or experience, but this common weakness can often be improved through practice.
“I used to get anxious before speaking in front of large groups because I didn’t feel comfortable or confident. I worked with a senior mentor to establish a pre-presentation routine that includes writing clear speaking notes, practicing my presentation out loud, and having a calming tea. While I still get nervous every now and then, I’m more confident and have received positive feedback from my peers.”
If your weakness is putting off work until the last minute, it’s essential to identify why you repeat this behavior. For example, sometimes procrastination is a symptom of a lack of clarity or bad time management skills.
“In previous jobs, I would put off completing tasks if I didn’t fully understand what was required of me. Instead of asking for help, I would try to figure it out independently, which only wasted time and increased my stress. Now, I review the task as soon as I receive it and request a casual one-to-one with a peer or manager for support. After taking this step, I’m more efficient and my quality of work has improved.”
Being too detail-oriented
Being detail-oriented can be a worker’s greatest strength. But focusing too heavily on minor details can also be a red flag to hiring managers, as it can cost the employer time and money.
“I tend to focus on small details to ensure the end product is perfect. I've realized this habit can stall progress on certain projects if I spend too much time on a task. I now use a time-tracking app to ensure I spend an appropriate amount of time on a task without going over budget or impacting others.”
If you’re overly critical of yourself, you can increase your stress and anxiety at work, leading to burnout. You may constantly compare yourself to successful peers or feel like you’re not doing enough. Here’s how you can communicate this weakness in an interview.
“I often compare my accomplishments to my peers, which leads to self-doubt. When this happens, I become unmotivated and my morale takes a hit. I started keeping a log of my accomplishments and positive feedback to keep my achievements top of mind. I’ve also communicated this weakness to previous managers so they know my preferred feedback style and needs.”
Some people do their best work by focusing on one task at a time. But this approach can be inefficient and create bottlenecks in projects and processes.
“I struggled to multitask successfully in previous roles. Multitasking decreased my productivity as I had difficulty prioritizing my work. In my current role, I confirm my priorities with my manager to ensure I can tackle each task one at a time without holding up other processes. This approach has worked well for me, but I’m open to discussing other methods with my new team.”
Taking on too much work
Every worker wants to be seen as a team player with a strong work ethic. But saying ‘yes’ to every task and request can quickly lead to overwhelm and burnout. This is a common weakness for new hires who want to make a good impression.
“I often take on more than I can handle to please everyone. In the past, this has led to burnout. I’m practicing setting firm boundaries with myself and others by clearly communicating my workload and saying ‘no’ when I don’t have the time or capacity to take on a task. Since implementing this change, I’ve produced better quality work and maintained a healthier work-life balance.”
Inexperience with a specific tool or process
Does your weakness revolve around a specific tool, platform, or process included in the job description? If so, use this opportunity to highlight your self-awareness and any proactive steps you’re taking to develop your skills and knowledge.
“I see your team is working with [platform]. While I’ve only used [similar platform] in previous roles, there’s a significant crossover regarding key functions and processes. I’ve identified some online training I can complete to become competent on [platform] in a timely manner, should I be selected for the role.”
Struggling with remote work-life balance
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance while working remotely isn’t easy for everyone. Some workers struggle to stay focused due to their environment, some deal with feelings of isolation, and others have difficulty signing off for the day, all of which can negatively impact their mental health and home life.
If this resonates with you, voice your desire to continue working remotely in your response while outlining a plan to improve your work-from-home experience.
“I prefer to work from home, but sometimes I find myself working late or on weekends because my work computer is so accessible. In the past, this has made it hard for me to draw a clear line between work and home life. In my next role, I want to work with my manager to set clear expectations regarding my availability and structure my days with defined stop and start times.
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In this content series, we share articles, templates, and guides to help job seekers and new hires navigate the world of work. These resources will guide you through the entire hiring process, from preparing your resume to interviewing to identifying career growth opportunities.
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