During your interview, you can prepare answers to some common questions that many hiring managers ask. 'What is your greatest weakness?' or a similar question is one you can expect from interviewers. Learning how to answer this question in a positive manner can impress hiring managers and increase your chances of getting a job. In this article, we review some example answers to the question, 'What is your greatest weakness?'
Example weaknesses for interviewing
Here are eight examples of the best weaknesses to mention in an interview:
- You focus too much on the details
- You have a difficult time letting go of a project
- You have trouble saying no
- You get impatient when projects run beyond the deadline
- You lack confidence
- You have trouble asking for help
- It has been difficult for you to work with certain personalities
- It can be difficult for you to maintain a healthy work-life balance
1. You focus too much on the details
Being detail-oriented is typically a good thing, but if you're someone who tends to spend too much time on the specifics of a project, it could also be considered a weakness. By sharing that you focus too much on details, you're showing your interviewer that you're capable of helping the organization avoid even minor mistakes.
Be sure to explain how you're making improvements in this area. A candidate who assures quality and strives for balance can be a great asset.
Example: “My greatest weakness is that I sometimes focus too much on the details of a project and spend too much time analyzing the finer points. I've been striving to improve in this area by checking in with myself at regular intervals and giving myself a chance to re-focus on the bigger picture. That way I can still ensure quality without getting so caught up in the details that it affects my productivity or the team's ability to meet the deadline.”
2. You have a difficult time letting go of a project
When you've spent a great deal of time and effort on something, it's easy to feel apprehensive about marking it complete. There's always room for improvement, and some people tend to over-criticize their work or attempt last-minute changes, which can threaten the timeline.
If this is your weakness, share how you're striving to improve by giving yourself a deadline for all revisions and being proactive about 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'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. This helps ensure I'm not making changes at the last minute.”
3. You have trouble saying no
Helping colleagues on projects and properly managing your workload is an artful balance. From an employer's perspective, someone who accepts all requests seems dedicated and eager—but can also be someone who doesn't know their limits and ends up needing help or deadline extensions to finish the work.
If you're someone who is so eager to take on new projects, share how you're working to better self-manage by organizing your tasks and setting more realistic expectations with yourself as well as those around you.
Example: “My greatest weakness is that I sometimes have trouble saying no to requests and end up taking on more than I can handle. In the past, this has led me to feel stressed. To improve in this area, I use a project management app so I can visualize how much work I have at any given moment and know whether or not I have the bandwidth to take on more.”
4. You get impatient when projects run beyond the deadline
While expressing outward stress or frustration over missed deadlines can be considered a weakness, employers value employees that place importance on deadlines and strive to keep projects within the planned timeline.
If you're using this as your weakness, frame your answer to focus on how you appreciate work completed on time and ways you're helping to improve processes to get work done more efficiently.
Example: “My greatest weakness is that I get impatient when projects run past the deadline. I'm particular for due dates and get uncomfortable when work is not completed on time. To avoid this, I've started being more proactive and paying attention to how I'm reacting to make sure I'm being motivational and helping foster efficiency.”
5. You lack confidence
Lack of confidence is a common weakness, especially among entry-level contributors. Experiencing a lack of confidence can sometimes cause inefficiencies in your work. For example, you might feel unqualified to speak at an important meeting when your idea could help the team achieve a goal.
While being humble when working with others can be helpful, it is also necessary to maintain a certain amount of confidence to do your job at an optimal level. If this is your weakness, emphasize why you value confidence, your understanding of the value you offer and the ways you have practiced displaying confidence in the workplace.
Example: “In the past, I have sometimes struggled with confidence. It has been helpful for me to keep a running document of the impact I have made on my team and at my organization to better understand why I should be confident about my skills and unique talents. I have also made it a point to voice my ideas and opinions during meetings when I feel they are appropriate and will add value to the conversation. Because of this, our team ended up adopting my idea for a new financing process, which resulted in a 10% decrease in time taken to plan our annual budget.”
6. You have trouble asking for help
Asking for help is a necessary skill when you lack expertise in a certain area or when you cannot handle your workload. Knowing when and how to ask for help shows strong self-awareness. While having a strong work ethic and being independent are positive qualities, it is better for the business if you 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 is beneficial and the ways you have tried to improve this skill.
Example: “Because 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 is much more beneficial for me and the business to reach out when I do not understand something or feel burned out with my workload. I also understand that there are many experts around me that 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.”
7. It has been difficult for you 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 organization.
If this has been a weakness of yours in the past, explain the personality types you have had trouble working with and quickly identify the reasons why. Then discuss the ways you have adjusted your communication or work style to better work towards a common goal together.
Example: “In the past, I have found it difficult to work with aggressive personality types. While I understand diversity in personalities makes a business strong, I tend to quiet my own ideas and opinions around louder colleagues. To combat this, I have made it a point to spend more time with colleagues I feel uncomfortable working with. By learning more about them, their communication style and their motivations, I am better able to collaborate with these personality types so that we equally contribute our strengths and skills.”
8. It can be difficult for you to maintain a healthy work-life balance
Finding work-life balance is important to maintain motivation in your job. While it is certainly honourable and shows a strong work ethic to spend your time and energy on work, it is also necessary to prioritize spending time with your family, enjoying hobbies or resting.
If this is the weakness you choose to present during your interview, 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. You can also explain that work-life balance is something you find important in the role you are applying for.
Example: “Because I truly love my work and have ambitious career goals, it can be difficult for me to keep a healthy balance between work and my personal life. I have seen a negative impact on my motivation and focus when I ignore my personal needs. As a result, I have made it a point to focus on creating space in my schedule to focus on volunteering and spending time with my family. When I maintain a good work-life balance, my output is of better quality, I can get more work done and I feel excited about coming to work.”