GuidesEmployee experience17 good answers to 'What is your biggest weakness'?

17 good answers to 'What is your biggest weakness'?

Last updated

27 September 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Shawnna Johnson

You've polished your resume and picked out the perfect interview outfit. All you need to do is practice those common interview questions to land your dream job.

But one interview question can make even the most practiced and skilled interviewee break into a sweat. It's the all-time classic, "What's your biggest weakness?"

The question is designed for hiring managers to get an accurate analysis of you and give them insight into what challenges you might experience with the position. However, this question can also be an excellent opportunity to showcase your personality and ensure the job is a good fit for you.

Let's explore why interviewers love this question, some tips for answering it, and 17 ideas that can help inspire your perfect answer to this age-old interview question.

Why do interviewers ask about your strengths and weaknesses?

Most interviewers won't ask about your weaknesses without asking about your strengths. The two questions help them assess whether your skills and personality align with the job requirements. Your strengths will tell them about your abilities and experience that will help you excel in the role. They can also show the interviewer whether you’ll fit in with the company culture.

Asking about your weaknesses, however, can tell the interviewer even more about your personality and work style. Discussing your shortcomings can reveal your self-awareness and willingness to discuss the areas where you need to improve. Being honest about your weaknesses can show an interviewer that you:

  • Have a growth mindset

  • Can take constructive criticism

  • Are willing to overcome challenges

Your answer may also help them determine how you'll fit into their current team structure.

Your answers to these questions can help you stand out in a sea of candidates. They can become great conversation starters and discussion points, allowing interviewers to get to know you beyond what's written on your resume. Preparing thoughtful responses to these questions can show interviewers you've spent time considering the answers and are ready to admit to your weaknesses and celebrate your strengths.

17 potential answers when asked about your weaknesses in an interview

What should you say when an interviewer asks you about your biggest weakness? Here are 17 possible answers to help you create your perfect response.

1. I focus too much on details

Attention to detail can be a prized skill for many professions. In others, it means you get bogged down in the nitty-gritty and struggle to maintain efficiency in your work tasks. If you focus too much on details, share how you are working to maintain focus on the bigger picture and let go of perfectionism.

2. I have a hard time letting go of projects

You are dedicated to your work's quality and take your responsibilities seriously. Employers love that! But sometimes, you need to figure out when to call something “finished.” Highlight how you are improving on this weakness by using better time-management strategies or delegating some tasks.

3. I have trouble saying no

Telling an employer you have trouble saying no can show them you are a good team player willing to go the extra mile for the team. It also indicates you are eager to take on new challenges. However, it might signify that you’re prone to burnout. You probably aren't maintaining a good work-life balance if you never say no. Additionally, employers may see this weakness as an inability to prioritize or get your work done on time. Talk about how you are working to set boundaries and prioritize tasks to manage your workload effectively.

4. I get impatient with missed deadlines

You are committed to timeliness and have a result-oriented mindset. You also hold yourself to a high standard regarding your time-management skills. Still, you struggle when working with others who have a more laid-back approach to a looming deadline. Talk about how you are developing your communication skills to better collaborate with team members and set more realistic goals. Also, mention your efforts towards working on flexibility and adaptability.

5. I could use more experience in...

If you have a gap in your skill set, this is a great thing to incorporate into your answer about your weaknesses. It shows the interviewer you know you may need to be stronger in a particular area and demonstrates that you’re willing to work on it. It also gives the employer a chance to think about training opportunities they can provide you to help you upskill.

6. I sometimes lack confidence

Saying you sometimes lack confidence shows you’re self-aware and interested in personal growth. Share with the interviewer that you are working on cultivating your confidence through mentorships, attending training sessions, or setting affirmations. This is a relatable weakness, and admitting it shows you are ready to build it up. Be prepared to explain how and when you feel a lack of confidence.

7. I have trouble asking for help

This is a weakness that also highlights your strengths. It can signal to an interviewer that you are self-reliant and happy to figure things out independently. It also shows you are a problem-solver and self-motivated. But you also need to show that you know when you are in over your head and need to ask for help before a task or project begins to go off track. Clarify that, while you may be hesitant to ask for help, you are improving your willingness to seek assistance and collaborate with others when needed. This can show that you’re developing your skills as a team player and can work collaboratively and independently.

8. I have trouble working with certain personalities

There are always some personality types that rub us the wrong way. Knowing you struggle with certain personalities shows self-awareness. It also helps a potential employer determine whether you will be a good fit on a team. If you struggle to deal with Type-A personalities and the interviewer knows their team is full of these types, you won't be happy in the position. Admitting to this weakness can help you find a team that's a good fit. Use this one sparingly. Be sure to share how you work with different personalities and what you do to avoid conflict or manage it.

9. It can be challenging for me to find a good work-life balance

If you end up working more than your contracted hours or taking work home with you on the weekends, there is a good chance you won't maintain a good work-life balance. While you might think employers will love your dedication to the job, this weakness signifies that you are prone to burnout. Most employers know maintaining a good work-life balance is essential to long-term employee happiness, so they'll be pleased to hear that you are working to overcome this by maintaining firm boundaries and not checking email during scheduled paid time off.

10. I am uncomfortable with ambiguity

Many roles require you to manage a certain amount of ambiguity. You might not know exactly when a supplier will deliver or have firm guidelines on the client's expectations. Knowing you struggle with ambiguity and admitting this fact can help you build up a tolerance for the unknown. You could tell the interviewer that being uncomfortable with ambiguity has made you an excellent communicator. You are working on becoming more adaptable when ambiguity is unavoidable.

11. I take on too much

Sometimes, taking on a task ourselves, rather than delegating it, feels easier because we know it will be done to our exacting standards. Interviewers can see this weakness as a strength because it means you are comfortable taking ownership and accountability. However, it may signal that you could be better at setting boundaries and working as a team player. Talk about how you know you tend to take on too much and are working on your delegation skills, involving your teammates, or attempting to vocalize your need for help more within your team.

12. I struggle with public speaking

This is a very relatable answer. Who hasn't felt their palms sweat when speaking in a boardroom or presenting at a company-wide meeting? If the position you are applying for requires a lot of public speaking, there may be a better job for you. If it's an occasional task, though, this is a weakness you can overcome with practice. Talk about how you are pursuing public-speaking training, such as attending seminars to help build this skill.

13. I am not good with sudden and unexpected changes

Not many people can happily go along with many sudden and unexpected changes at work. However, in most modern work environments, it's inevitable. Owning up to this weakness can show an employer you value tradition and process, which may be highly valued in certain environments. However, you can indicate you’re working on overcoming this weakness by embracing change and seeing it as an opportunity. Your willingness to face changes head-on can be seen as a positive trait by potential employers.

14. I procrastinate on tasks I don't find enjoyable

It shows a lot of self-awareness to admit to a weakness that is a common challenge for many people. An employer may appreciate your honesty and ability to acknowledge this shortcoming in your workflow. Talk about how you overcome this weakness with good time-management techniques, setting priorities for tasks, and breaking down big projects into manageable steps. This shows an interviewer that you’re working to overcome your tendency to procrastinate and manage your time more effectively. It’s also a good idea to mention that you always meet deadlines, regardless of how quickly or slowly you set out on a task.

15. I can be risk-averse at times

Being risk-averse is sometimes good. Some employers may appreciate your commitment to playing it safe and see this as a strength. In some positions, it could signify you aren't ready to think outside the box or take chances. Talk about how you are challenging yourself to step outside your comfort zone, whether by learning a new skill or signing up for new projects. This shows a potential employer you are being proactive about taking calculated risks and learning to be more innovative.

16. I rely too much on technical jargon

Every job comes with its own vocabulary. This can help you communicate with other people in your field more effectively. However, relying on it too heavily could be a weakness if you are applying for a customer-facing position. Using too much technical jargon could make customer discussions confusing and unproductive. Admitting this weakness shows you are aware of this shortcoming and willing to work on it. Talk about how you are working to eliminate tech speak from your conversations and are eager for more training on effective communication skills.

17. I can be overly critical of my own work

Striving for excellence in your work can often lead to becoming overly self-critical. While an employer will love that you aim for excellence, they won't appreciate you never feeling your work is good enough. Highlight that you are continuously trying to improve, and this weakness causes you to produce high-quality work. Acknowledge that it can also lead to you feeling frustrated or missing deadlines and that you are trying to overcome that by accepting compliments and constructive feedback in equal measure. It's a great way to highlight your openness to professional development.

Tips for answering the question 'What are your weaknesses?' in an interview 

Once you've determined what your weaknesses are, you'll want to practice giving your answer to the interviewer. Simply identifying your weaknesses isn't enough. Use your answer to give them context, show your personality, and demonstrate that you have a plan to address your weaknesses.

Here are some tips for formulating your answer:

  • Be honest. Don't be tempted to share the answer you think the interviewer wants. Honestly evaluate yourself and determine areas you need to improve. Being honest about your answer demonstrates your ability to self-analyze. It gives the interviewer a better idea of whether you are a good fit for the position.

  • Tell a story. One of the best ways to talk about your weakness is to share a story about it. Keep the story short and relevant, but use it as an example of how you demonstrated or overcame this weakness. Sharing a story also makes your response more engaging and memorable.

  • Remember to get to the insight. Tell the interviewer your weakness, then expand on your answer by giving insight. Explain how you are working to overcome the weakness or what self-managing routines you implement to avoid it. Providing insight about your weakness shows your commitment to overcoming challenges.

  • Keep it short. Refrain from dwelling on this part of the interview too much. While you want to have a great answer ready to go if asked, keep your response concise. That way, you can spend more time discussing your strengths and what you can bring to the position.

  • Don't sweat it. Don't let the question rattle you. No one is perfect, not even the interviewer. Your ability to acknowledge your weaknesses can be a strength, and your interviewer is simply trying to learn more about you. Prepare your answer beforehand so this question doesn't trip you up.

Incorporating these tips can help you craft an insightful and personal response to the question, 'What are your weaknesses?' Approaching this question confidently can make you memorable and leave the interviewer with a great impression of you and your skills.

What to avoid when answering a question about your weaknesses

You'll want to avoid a few common pitfalls when developing your answer to this tricky interview question.

Don't be overly negative or self-critical

While being honest about your weaknesses is essential, don’t overdo it. Clearly state your weakness, then balance your answer with how you are working to overcome it. Be specific about what you are doing; don't simply say you’re working on it. Tell the interviewer what skills you are practicing to diminish the weakness or what plans you have to help you overcome the challenge.

Don't cite one of the job's core requirements as a weakness

For example, if Python coding skills are essential to the position, don't cite your Python coding skills as a weakness. If that's the case, you may need to look for a job better suited to your strengths.

Don’t offer a generic response

Avoid common reactions like "I'm a perfectionist" or "I work too hard." These cliche answers can leave the impression you aren't being honest in your self-analysis.

Avoid oversharing

Giving an interviewer a long list of weaknesses won't paint you in a good light, and you could end up oversharing and making the interviewer uncomfortable. Choosing one or two flaws demonstrates your ability to evaluate yourself honestly.

Ready to answer the trickiest interview question? 

Once you've identified your weakness and prepared an answer, practice it on a friend. Going over your answer beforehand can make it feel more natural during the interview and help you feel more confident and prepared. You'll be able to avoid the panic this question can bring and impress your interviewer on the day.

Remember, your biggest weakness may be a strength! Let your personality shine, answer honestly, and show how you overcome your weaknesses. You'll be in a job that you love in no time.

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