List of Weaknesses for a Job Interview: How To Nail the Common Question

By , Staff Writer
man and woman in a job interview
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    man and woman in a job interview
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Your imperfections and personal weaknesses are part of what make you unique and full of character, and that’s something most professionals understand. When a job interviewer asks about your weaknesses, they’re getting an idea of how you see yourself and how you can overcome your own shortcomings, but thinking of your weaknesses isn’t easy. Seeing some examples can drum up ideas about your own imperfections.

General Examples of Job Interview Weaknesses

Everyone has a weakness of some kind that could affect your performance in any given job. Many people have trouble admitting and identifying those weaknesses, but self-awareness is a desirable trait.

Some common examples of weaknesses for a job interview answer include:

  • Self-critical
  • Too sensitive
  • Overly competitive
  • Perfectionist
  • Stubborn
  • Disorganized
  • Uncomfortable delegating tasks
  • Takes on too much work at once
  • Uncomfortable asking for help
  • Committed to comfort zones
  • Limited experience
  • Limited public speaking skills

Examples of Weaknesses With Explanations

When a hiring manager asks about your weaknesses, they really want to know about things that aren’t in your resume or cover letter, like your self-awareness and ability to grow as a person. Once you’ve named a weakness, contextualize it with specifics that show that it’s something that you’re working on or even something that you can use to your advantage.

Lacking Experience in a Specific Skill

Most jobs expect a certain level of experience with specific skills. If you’re a copywriter, a potential employer is probably expecting that you not only know the basics of English but also have experience with word processing software.

I don’t have experience with teaching kids in a classroom, but I have been an English tutor for the last three years helping kids on an individual level develop their grammar and writing skills. I look forward to the potential challenges and learning opportunities of teaching kids in a larger group setting.

This shows that you might not have direct experience, but you have existing experience that overlaps, while emphasizing your abilities. Most importantly, you need to show that you’re actually open to gaining that new experience and knowledge.

Low Confidence

Whether you’re applying for a job or hanging out with your friends, most people appreciate a solid sense of self-confidence. Many people understandably have low self-confidence based on a whole host of factors, and it doesn’t have to affect your job performance.

I’m not the most self-confident person, but it’s something I’m actively working on. I keep a running list of my personal and professional accomplishments, and I’m trying to be better about understanding my own unique skills and my ability to grow.

Confidence is naturally intangible, meaning it’s hard to really display in the first place. Something like creating a list of your accomplishments shows a concretization of that concept with an understanding that it’s a constant work in progress.

Stubborn

No one likes the bull-headed, narrow-minded coworker who is too set in their ways to make adjustments on the fly. Hiring managers want to know that you’re a flexible candidate who won’t get frustrated when things go even slightly awry.

I’m a bit stubborn and set in my ways, which I’m constantly working on. The good side of that is that I can be focused on my tasks, and I work hard to accomplish them at any cost. That also means I’ve gotten better at asking others for help and getting as much input as possible.

This is one of those situations where you can turn a weakness into a strength. In this case, you’re turning your personal stubbornness into a sense of dedication to your work and your team.

Trouble Saying ‘No’

It can be tempting to say “yes” to everything that gets thrown your way, even when it doesn’t actually pertain to your responsibilities. The problem comes when you put way too much on your shoulders, leading to work-life imbalances. With too many burdens, you may end up making mistakes with the work itself.

I have trouble saying “no” to tasks, so I end up with too much on my plate. I’ve been trying to improve by using a planner and a project management app that helps me plan my work and determine if I even have space for new tasks. I’ve also become more confident at pushing back if I need to, asking for help, and delegating tasks.

This answer acknowledges the weakness and suggests that you’re taking the initiative to address the problem in a constructive way. It also presents your managerial abilities and an emphasis on organization.

Too Detail-Oriented

Nearly all forms of work require an attention to detail, but being too detail-oriented can pose problems. It can cause you to miss the forest for the trees, overlooking the overall effects of your work. That can eventually lead to missing deadlines or otherwise spending too much time on something that doesn’t need it.

I tend to get too caught up in the details, to the point where I forget the big picture. I’ve been trying to be more conscious of that by giving myself time to pull out and refocus. I’ve also gotten better about trusting my supervisors and my own ability to create quality work.

Being too detail-oriented is another weakness that you can turn into a strength because it’s not necessarily bad to focus on details. The example answer acknowledges the potential problems of being detail-oriented, shows that you’re a team player, and allows you to brag a little about your skills.

Tips for Approaching Your Job Interview Weaknesses

Coming up with an answer to the standard interview question, “What is your greatest weakness?” is challenging. Thankfully, it’s fairly common in jobs across all industries, so you can always stay prepared for it.

Some general tips for creating your own answer:

  • Be honest
  • Give real life context
  • Discuss how you’ve turned your weaknesses into strengths
  • Give concrete examples of how you’re growing or improving
  • Acknowledge potential future steps to improve yourself