Career Planning Finding a Job Interview Strategies List of Weaknesses for Job Interviews By Alison Doyle Alison Doyle Facebook Twitter Website Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts. learn about our editorial policies Updated on September 25, 2022 In This Article View All In This Article Why Interviewer Ask About Weaknesses How To Answer Interview Questions About Weaknesses List of Weaknesses What To Say During an Interview Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Photo: PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson / Getty Images Are you prepared to discuss your weaknesses during a job interview? One of the trickiest interview questions to answer is, “What is your greatest weakness?” This question is challenging because it’s easy to respond in a way that comes off as dishonest (“I have no weaknesses!”) or disqualifying (“I am bad at this one skill that’s an absolute must-have for this job.”) There are ways to respond effectively and strategies you can use to best answer the question, so the weaknesses you mention don't impact your chance of getting the job. Key Takeaways Hiring managers ask about weaknesses in order to get a sense of whether you’re a good fit for the job. Be honest but selective when deciding which weaknesses to discuss in a job interview. Choose a weakness that is not essential for the job and that shows your capacity for self-reflection and growth. Why Interviewer Ask About Weaknesses So why do hiring managers ask this question during job interviews? In short, they can’t get a complete picture of you as a candidate by only talking about your strengths. In addition to learning about what you can do, the interviewer wants to know about what you can't do, or what you have difficulty with on the job. How you respond will also help the interviewer understand how well you know yourself, as well as whether you would be a good fit for the role. It also shows the interviewer that you know that nobody is perfect and that you're willing to work to improve your skills and excel. How To Answer Interview Questions About Weaknesses What should you talk about when you're asked what you can improve? Weaknesses are tricky to talk about, so you need to be careful when sharing examples of yours. You don't want to knock yourself out of contention for the job because the interviewer thinks you're not qualified. You also don't want to come across as too arrogant and perfect, because almost nobody is. You do want your answer to be honest, but as positive as possible. Be careful when you answer questions about weaknesses (and strengths), and you'll be able to show how you're a good fit for the job. Note Focus on steps you are taking to improve on your weaknesses and avoid mentioning weaknesses in skills that are important for the job. If you think carefully about the job ahead of time and prepare an answer, you will be able to remain positive while still being honest. The Balance List of Weaknesses What are the best weaknesses to mention during an interview? There are different categories of weaknesses that you can choose from when answering interview questions about your shortcomings. However, do not choose a weakness at random. Instead, make sure the one you select is not critical to the job, and mention in your interview the ways you plan to improve upon this weakness. Hard Skills You might mention a hard skill as your weakness. Hard skills are job-specific abilities that are easily quantifiable. They are developed through school and other forms of training. Examples of hard skills include computer skills, finance, mathematics, and more. Note If you decide to mention a hard skill, make sure it is not a skill necessary for the job. If it is a skill that is easy to learn, you might also mention that you are currently developing that skill (or that you plan to develop that skill). For example, if you say your weakness is a particular software program, you might say that you are currently taking an online course on how to use the program (of course, only say this if it is true). Some examples of hard skills you might mention when answering an interview question about your weaknesses are: Advanced mathematicsCreative writingFinancial literacyForeign languages (or one particular foreign language)A particular software packageSpelling Soft Skills Soft skills are important for almost every job. Unlike hard skills, these are skills that are hard to quantify. They encompass your personality traits, your communication abilities, and your social skills. While they are important, you could pick out one soft skill to mention as a weakness. Just make sure it is not necessary for the job and emphasize how you are improving that skill. Some soft skills you might mention when answering questions about your weaknesses include: Creativity (many jobs don't require creativity)Delegating tasks (if you're not in a management role, you won't need to delegate)Humor (it's fine if you're not funny)Spontaneity (you work better when prepared)OrganizationPatienceTaking too many risksBeing too honest Interpersonal Skills You might mention a weakness that relates to your ability to interact with others. Of course, you want to make sure you don’t come across as someone who can’t work well with co-workers. Pick one specific issue you struggle with, and then talk about how you have worked to improve on this type of interaction. Examples of interpersonal skills you might mention as weaknesses include: Confrontation Covering for co-workers Expecting too much from colleagues Expressing too much frustration with underperforming staff or colleagues Presenting to large groups Public speaking Being too critical of other people’s work Too easily internalizing the problems of clients Being too sensitive Work Ethic You don’t want to say that your weakness is that you “work too hard.” This will come across as insincere. However, you might explain how you do certain things in excess at work. This will show that you work hard, but it will be a more honest answer. Examples of weaknesses related to your work ethic might include: Leaving projects unfinishedProviding too much detail in reportsShifting from one project to another (multitasking)Taking credit for group projectsTaking on too many projects at onceTaking on too much responsibilityBeing too detail-orientedBeing too much of a perfectionistToo much procrastination (as long as you still meet all your deadlines)Being too helpful to othersWorking too many hours Academics You can also refer to an academic skill or ability as a weakness. This is a particularly good idea if you are at least a few years out of school because then the employer can evaluate you on your work experience rather than your academics. Of course, don’t highlight an academic weakness that is directly relevant to the job. For example, if you are applying for a job as an engineer, don’t say your weakness is a particular engineering course. Some examples of weaknesses related to academics include: Coursework (a particular course you struggled with)Essay writing (be sure to emphasize your strength in other forms of writing)Being overly involved in on-campus activities (if a student or recent graduate)Spending too much time on school assignmentsStandardized tests What To Say During an Interview Focus on qualities not necessary for the job. When you consider which weaknesses to mention in an interview, keep in mind that you should focus on qualities that are not central to the requirements of the job for which you are interviewing. For example, if you are applying for a job in accounting, you don’t want to say your weakness is mathematics. Keep it positive. It's important to try and remain positive. You might also explain how your weakness could be seen as a positive in the job. For example, being very detail-oriented is an asset for many positions. Note While it might seem impossible to do this in a question about weaknesses, all you have to do is simply avoid using negative words like "weak" and "failure." Emphasize your plan of action. You should explain how you are overcoming (or plan to overcome) your weakness. It is particularly useful when your weakness is a hard skill that can be easily learned. You might even phrase your answer as, “One skill I am currently working on is….” Share your strengths. As well as being prepared to mention weaknesses, it's important to discuss the strengths that qualify you for the job during the interview. It's also essential to do your best to sell your qualifications to the interviewer, so you're a strong contender for a job offer. Be honest. Finally, while you want to be positive, you should also be honest. Answers like, “I don’t have any flaws,” will come across as insincere. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) What are the hardest job interview questions to answer? Some of the hardest job interview questions are open-ended requests like, “Tell me about yourself.” To be prepared, make sure you can sum up your skills and job history quickly and connect your qualifications to the job. How can I impress the hiring manager in a job interview? The best way to impress the hiring manager is to be prepared for the job interview. Research the company, practice answering common job interview questions, and arrive early and appropriately dressed. How do you answer, “Why should I hire you?” Don’t be thrown off by this question, which is intended in part to see how you respond under pressure. Match your qualifications to the job, emphasizing the skills and abilities that the employer highlighted in the job description. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. SHRM. "Interviewing Candidates for Employment."