Weaknesses List: 7 Things to Say in a Job Interview
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 8 November 2021
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.
Answering the interview question "What is your greatest weakness?" can be challenging, especially when you expect to be discussing the capabilities, talents and skills that make you the strongest candidate for the position. While framing your weaknesses positively can be challenging, when you combine self-awareness with an action plan, you can quickly set yourself apart from other candidates. Identifying weaknesses that still communicate your strengths can be key to preparing for this question. In this article, we provide a weaknesses list you can mention in an interview and describe how to approach questions regarding them.
Weaknesses list for interviewing
Reviewing a weaknesses list before your interview can help you prepare for the question, "What is your greatest weakness?" Hiring managers ask about your weaknesses to get a complete picture of you as a job candidate. Besides learning about what you can do, the hiring manager wants to know about what you can't do. How you respond can also help the hiring manager understand how well you know yourself and whether you would be a good fit for the position. Here are a few examples of the best weaknesses you can mention in a job interview:
1. I concentrate too much on the details
Having strong attention to detail is usually a good thing, but if you're a person who often spends too much time on the project's specifics, the hiring manager may consider it a weakness. By sharing that you concentrate too much on details, you're showing the employer you can help the company prevent minor mistakes. Consider explaining how you're making improvements in this area by looking at the bigger picture. Although employers may not prefer professionals who focus too much on the finer points, a candidate who delivers quality work and strives for balance can be a great asset.
Example: "My greatest weaknesses is that I sometimes concentrate too much on a project's details. I also spend too much time analysing the finer points. I have been striving to improve in this area by checking in with myself at regular intervals and giving myself an opportunity to refocus on the bigger picture. That way, I can still ensure the quality of my work without getting so caught up in the details that it affects my productivity or the ability of my team to meet deadlines."
2. It's difficult for me to let go of a project
When you have spent a lot of effort and time on something, it's easy to feel apprehensive about passing it on to another team or marking it complete. There's always room for improvement and people sometimes over-criticise their own work or attempt last-minute changes, which can affect the timeline. However, last-minute changes can help eliminate errors, which can make for a more refined final output. If this is your weakness, consider sharing how you're striving to improve by setting your own deadlines for revisions and being proactive about revisions or changes, so you're not waiting until the last minute.
Example: "My greatest weakness is that I sometimes have a hard time letting go of a project. I am the biggest critic of my own work. I can always find something that requires improvement or needs to be changed. To help myself improve in this area, I set my own deadlines for revisions. This can help ensure that I am not making revisions at the last minute."
3. I have difficulty saying "no"
Helping team members on projects and managing your workload properly requires balance. From an employer's perspective, an individual who accepts all requests seems dedicated, but they can also be someone who doesn't know their limit and ends up needing assistance or deadline extensions to complete their work. If you're eager to take on new tasks that you can't bring yourself to say "no", consider sharing how you're working on organising your tasks better and setting more realistic goals with yourself and the people around you.
Example: "My greatest weakness is that sometimes I have a hard time saying "no" to requests and end up taking on more than I can handle. In my previous role, this has caused me to feel burned out or stressed. To help myself conquer this weakness, I use a project management application so I can visualise how much work I have at any given moment and determine whether or not I have the bandwidth to take on more."
4. I often get impatient when a project runs beyond the deadline
Although expressing frustration or outward stress over missed deadlines is a weakness, hiring managers value candidates that place importance on due dates and strive to keep a project within the planned timeline. If you're planning to mention this weakness during your job interview, make sure to frame your answer to focus on how you appreciate work completed in a timely manner and the processes you employ to complete your work more efficiently.
Example: "My greatest weakness is that I often get impatient when a project runs past the due date. I am a stickler for deadlines and get uncomfortable when I can't complete work on time. To avoid this situation, I have started being more proactive and focusing on how I am reacting to make sure I am being motivational and fostering an environment of efficiency."
5. I could use more experience in…
Each job candidate has areas that require improvement. Perhaps it's something specific, such as creating charts in a spreadsheet. Maybe it's a skill like public speaking, writing or math. Mentioning something you want to improve upon can show the hiring manager that you're self-aware and like to challenge yourself. However, make sure that you don't answer with a weakness that's essential to the job you're applying for.
Example: "In the past, my greatest weakness has been not having enough experience in computer science. I was a psychology major in college and I have been working as an account manager for the past three years. While I knew it wouldn't be an easy path, front end development is what I am passionate about.
One year ago, I started teaching myself how to code. I utilised basic resources such as Code Tech and spent hours on Code Exchange every day. Next, I started developing applications that solved personal problems and that encouraged me to develop new skills such as, new APIs and advanced coding languages."
6. I sometimes lack confidence
Lack of confidence is a common weakness. For instance, you may feel underqualified to share your thoughts at an important meeting, even when your ideas could help the company achieve a goal. Although being humble when working with others can be helpful, it's also necessary to have self-confidence so you can perform your job effectively. If this is the weakness you want to present in your job interview, emphasise why you value confidence, your understanding of the value you offer and ways you have practised displaying confidence at work.
Example: "In my previous role, I have sometimes struggled with my confidence. It has been helpful for me to maintain a running document of the impact I have made on my team and at my company to better understand why I must be confident about the unique talents and skills I can offer. Also, I have made it a point to share my opinions and ideas during meetings when I feel they will add value to the conversation.
Hence, our team ended up adopting my idea for a new financing process, which resulted in a 15% increase in time taken to plan our annual budget."
7. I can have trouble asking for help
Asking for help is a necessary skill both when you're lacking expertise in a certain area and when you're feeling burned out or cannot handle your workload. Determining when and how to ask for help shows strong self-awareness and can help a company overcome inefficiency. While having a strong work ethic and being independent are positive qualities, it's important to know when to ask for help. If you know it has been difficult to ask for help in the past, explain why you know it's beneficial and the ways you have tried to improve this skill.
Example: “As I am independent and enjoy working quickly, it has been difficult for me to ask for help when I need it. I have learned that it's much more beneficial both for me and the company to reach out when I don't understand something or feel burned out with my workload. I also understand that many experts around me have specific knowledge and skills that can make my work better. While I am still working on it, I have been able to produce more high-quality work as a result of getting help from those around me.”
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