Getting an interview is a major milestone in any job search. After updating your LinkedIn bio, going through the placement apps, and sending in resumes, lightning strikes. A potential employer believes you have the qualifications to meet their needs.
Now it’s time to wow them in person with a great first impression
A lot goes into the first few minutes of a job interview. You’ve got to think about being punctual, dressing for the role, and appearing confident. But your preparations shouldn’t stop there.
There’s no doubt that first impressions are important. Interviewers start to form an opinion within minutes of meeting you based on the firmness of your handshake, your interview outfit, and non-verbal body language.
Putting your interview tips to good use can help you get off on the right foot, but you also have to think beyond the introduction. Having answers to common job interview questions at the ready will help you breeze through the rest of the meeting.
Being ready for questions might confirm a favorable initial assessment. A hiring manager’s primary goal is to clearly understand who you are. Routine questions like “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you want to work here?” help a hiring manager get to know you as an employee and determine how well you’ll fit in with the organization. But none are as challenging as the anxiety-riddled “What’s your greatest weakness?”
Take a deep breath. Situational questions like this aren’t a trap but rather your chance to shine. Knowing how to answer “What are your weaknesses?” will differentiate you from other candidates. The trick is to spin a flaw into a strength by crafting an answer demonstrating genuine honesty, self-awareness, and a desire to grow.
Job interview weaknesses: What they say about you
How you answer the weakness question says a lot about you and your work ethic. Being forthcoming about your flaws is an opportunity to highlight valuable soft skills which can set you apart from other applicants.
Your interviewer is looking for three things:
- Self-awareness: Everyone has weaknesses, but not everyone can recognize them. Having this level of self-awareness means you’re more likely to leverage strengths, mitigate weaknesses, and regulate your emotions.
- Honesty: Interviewers might detect dishonesty through verbal and nonverbal cues like looking away frequently or a shaky voice. And if you’re dishonest about your weaknesses they might feel you won’t be honest in the workplace.
- A desire for growth: It’s not enough to identify a weak spot. The interviewer wants to know you’re willing to correct a shortcoming so it doesn’t become a bigger problem.
Weaknesses aren’t something to be ashamed of. Quite the opposite. Focusing on improvement shows humility and determination — two qualities recruiters find very attractive in potential hires.
8 examples of weaknesses for interviews
While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, you can use these eight example responses as building blocks.
I’m easily frustrated when I’m working in a group. I have high standards and don’t feel I deliver quality work when I wait until the last minute to start. So if someone is late with their deliverables or there’s a delay, I tend to become impatient.
I know this is a problem, so I’m attending team-building workshops to develop the communication skills necessary to tell my teammates what I need while maintaining good working relationships.
Why it works
Most jobs require collaboration. Your interviewer expects you to demonstrate a capacity for teamwork while ensuring you meet and exceed expectations. Recognizing that your impatience has the potential to be an issue shows respect for your colleagues and that you appreciate the necessity of being a team player.
While it doesn’t affect my performance, keeping my workspace organized is challenging. But I’m much more productive when my physical and digital spaces are neat and tidy. I’ve begun dedicating an hour every Friday afternoon to declutter my desk and organize my files and inbox.
Establishing a dedicated clean-up time lets me kick off the week fresh, allowing me to plan my workflow and ensure everything is ready before I need it. It’s even helped me become more detail-oriented.
Why it works
Being disorganized is a relatable weakness and is as easy to fix as it is to understand. Make it clear that it doesn’t negatively impact your ability to do your job but is significant enough to require your attention.
Your answer should outline a thoughtful solution and demonstrate that your weakness is well under control.
3. Trouble delegating
Delegating tasks doesn’t come easily to me, especially when I have the skills to do something myself. But my last job was demanding and wasn’t conducive to multitasking. I didn’t have a choice but to share responsibilities with my team.
To help me feel more in control and avoid micromanaging, I implemented a project management system that let me follow up with my team and make sure everyone’s work was on track to meet project deadlines. If anyone gets in the weeds, they know I’m available to lend a hand. The system helped me become more comfortable delegating and improved my leadership skills.
Why it works
This answer shows you recognize when a weakness has the potential to become a serious problem — in this case, micromanaging a team — and you’re willing to learn a new skill to avoid it. You’re demonstrating commitment and initiative to address the issue, plus a high degree of flexibility, which is a critical professional skill.
I have high expectations and tend to be too hard on myself if my efforts fall short. Over time, I’ve learned to silence negative self-talk by regularly meditating on my successes and viewing mistakes as an opportunity to grow. I’ve also begun to recognize when my self-criticism is valid and when I can ignore it.
Why it works
This response shows you’re capable of introspection and growth. You’re finding the middle ground between two potential extremes, learning to accept criticism without letting it damage your self-confidence and performance — an attractive trait in a job candidate.
5. Timid in certain contexts
I used to feel quite timid when critiquing other people’s work. I hated the thought that I might hurt their feelings, which made me reluctant to provide feedback. In my last position, I realized people want to improve and appreciate constructive criticism so long as I begin from a place of kindness and empathy. It took some practice, but my coaching skills have improved, and I’m more comfortable offering feedback to help people do their best work.
Why it works
Here’s how to transform a weakness into your greatest strength without being disingenuous. Your sense of compassion — not wanting to hurt a colleague’s feelings — infuses your feedback with kindness and tact, making you an effective communicator. Those traits are vital soft skills for a future leader.
6. Too blunt
I have a very straightforward personality and tend to be blunt when I communicate. My delivery works well with members of senior management because I get to the heart of the matter quickly, and they appreciate my honesty. But some peers and direct reports find my bluntness off-putting, especially when offering feedback.
I’ve decided to revamp my communication style to become more empathetic. I’ve taken online courses to improve my relationship management skills and am working with a mentor to practice my feedback delivery.
Why it works
Understanding how a character trait like bluntness can be an asset in one circumstance and not in others can make you a better communicator in the workplace. You’re showing that you recognize when your directness is productive and have developed a plan for establishing an alternative way of speaking when it makes others uncomfortable.
7. Issues balancing work and life
I started developing some less-than-healthy habits when I shifted to remote work. It was difficult to separate my job from the rest of my life. As a result, my work-life balance suffered. My stress levels also increased, and I wasn’t taking time to recharge, which impacted my ability to deliver quality results.
I’ve since reevaluated my priorities and established a hard stop on all job-related activities at the end of my day. These work boundaries help me plan and maximize my productivity during office hours.
Why it works
You might think that working long hours is an asset, but in reality, it puts you at risk of becoming overworked and needing to go on stress leave. A potential employer wants you to stick around for the long term, so they need to know you can manage the pressure that comes with the job.
8. Too talkative
I think it’s important to socialize with my coworkers. It helps build better work relationships and creates a more welcoming company culture. But I’m a talker and can spend the entire day chatting with people in my department instead of working.
So I’ve started setting a timer on my phone to remind me to get back to my desk. Knowing I’m not going overboard socializing lets me focus more on the person I’m speaking with, making for more meaningful and energizing conversations.
Why it works
Your answer shows you’re invested in your working relationships and want to contribute to your company’s culture. But you also know your tendency to socialize can negatively impact your productivity. It takes courage to acknowledge this bad habit, which, along with sharing your solution, will earn the interviewer’s respect.
Converting weaknesses to strengths
Recognizing you have weaknesses isn’t admitting to failure. And it won’t take you out of the running for a position, even in a competitive job market.
Discussing your flaws during an interview is an opportunity to show off the qualities that make you a desirable employee. Traits like self-awareness, resilience, and humility are valuable in the workplace, and knowing how to answer “What are your weaknesses?” lets you bring those characteristics to the forefront during an interview.
By preparing a thoughtful answer, you demonstrate you have the communication and self-regulation skills necessary to thrive in any work environment and that you recognize that for every weakness, there’s an equal opportunity to improve.
Take a deep breath. Between practicing your responses to this and other common interview questions and familiarizing yourself with tips for a successful interview, you’re good to go. A job offer isn’t far off.