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What Is Your Greatest Weakness? (Sample Answers + Tips)

In an interview, it can be quite difficult to talk about “your greatest weakness” or flaw, especially if you’re not prepared. We’re here to make it easier.
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What Is Your Greatest Weakness? (Sample Answers + Tips)

Speaking about your weaknesses is hard. But it’s even harder in a job interview.

There are so many land mines: trying to disguise a strength as your answer to the “What is your greatest weakness” question, not knowing which weaknesses to mention, mentioning the wrong weaknesses that will cost you an offer, or not highlighting improvements you made to soften the weakness.

But no need to worry! We’ll teach you how to best speak about job interview weaknesses.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Sample answers that cover different job interview weaknesses
  • Why do interviewers ask “What is your greatest weakness”?
  • How to pick the right weakness to mention during a job interview
  • Common mistakes to avoid

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Sample Responses to the “Greatest Weakness” Job Interview Question

First off, here’s a lesson on how to answer “What is your greatest weakness” from our top career coach, Pam. This will give you a few extra pointers on how to nail the answer.

Below, you’ll find good and bad sample answers for the most common “job interview” weaknesses you can mention.

Time management

Good response

I have a hard time organizing my time properly. I often miss deadlines because I can’t successfully gauge how much time I’ll need for a certain task. To help with this, I installed a time tracker that helps me estimate how much time I’ll need for every type of task that I do, and based on those estimates I create weekly plans. After each week, I go back to check if my predictions were correct and I adjust my planning accordingly. So far, it’s been helpful and I noticed a huge improvement in my efficiency.

Bad response

I often miss my deadlines because of my attention to detail and the desire for everything to be perfect. I’m trying to work on it but I do feel that the quality of my work shouldn’t suffer because of the deadlines.

Public speaking

Good response

I would say public speaking is an area that I could work on. I tend to get nervous when asked to present to a large group of people. I spoke to my manager about this and we set it as one of my development goals for this year. I took an internal presentation skills class and attended some meetings of Toastmasters, a networking group for people who want to practice public speaking. With some practice, I started to feel more comfortable. Last month, I volunteered to represent our team at a division-wide town hall. I only had to present for 10 minutes, but I did it and got great feedback! It was actually kind of fun, so I plan on continuing to seek out opportunities to improve in this area.

Bad response

I’m really bad at speaking in front of big groups. Even though I prepare my presentations, I still end up nervous and start speaking in a confusing, disorganized manner. I tried giving a few presentations, but I never improved. I guess we can’t excel at everything, so I accepted that some things are simply not for me.

Delegating tasks

Good response

I need to improve my delegation skills. I tend to do everything myself because I’m always concerned about the quality of the work done. I realized that this controlling behavior is not helpful and can actually slow things down in my team. But I was recently given the chance to manage a small team of summer interns, and this experience definitely helped me improve. It taught me how to delegate and my manager noticed the difference in my management style. I know that I can improve further, so I signed up for a management skills training course.

Bad response

I have trouble delegating tasks. I want everything to be done perfectly and on time, and sometimes I can’t rely on my teammates to meet deadlines or maintain the quality of work. I think training them on how to manage their time and do their work properly would help, and then I’d be able to delegate tasks to them with peace of mind.

If you want to learn more tips and tricks on answering the most common interview questions, sign up for our free course here!

Adapting to new technologies

Good response

I have a hard time keeping up with new technologies. With all the daily work and chronic lack of time, I simply don’t have the bandwidth to stay on top of things. However, I noticed this is taking a toll on the quality of my work. If I was in the loop with the newest technologies, I could probably improve the quality of my work and efficiency. So I started applying for 1 webinar per month, and I subscribed to several major newsletters. In addition, I spruced up my LinkedIn account and became a member of several LinkedIn groups. I’m slowly catching up and I can already say this is one of the best decisions I made recently.

Bad response

I have a hard time keeping up with the new technologies. I’m drowning in work and I don’t have enough time to dedicate to my family or hobbies, so, naturally, I don’t have time for browsing the internet and reading about technology advancements. But honestly, we live in a world of rapid improvements, and trying to keep up with everything is simply not possible. So I decided to focus on my work. If the circumstances allow it, I might dedicate some time to reading about tech stuff in the future.

Assertiveness

Good response

I could work on my assertiveness. I often have a hard time speaking up for myself or others, and I can’t really say no. This has cost me a lot of patience at work. But I’m speaking to my therapist about this and trying to find the roots of this problem. And I slowly started communicating my thoughts. I recently voiced my concerns about a certain project at work. Nobody took it personally, we had a constructive conversation around it and found a middle ground. So that felt good and I’ll definitely be more open in the future.

Bad response

I’m not assertive and can’t comfortably share my thoughts with others. So many times I said yes when I meant no, and changed all of my priorities to meet the needs of others. Because of this, I’m often unhappy at work. But on the other hand, I know how many people are jobless, and how many have much bigger problems at work, and that has taught me to be grateful. Whenever I feel down, I just remind myself it could be much worse. After all, it’s better to keep quiet and stand out of the way.

Networking

Good response

Naturally, I’m a really shy person so networking has always been tough for me. But I noticed that this has robbed me of great opportunities at work. The quality of my work would be incomparably better if I took the time to talk to the people from my niche and make meaningful connections. So I want to start scheduling at least 2 networking calls per month. Nothing formal, just a casual conversation with people from my network that I’d love to speak to. I think this will give me the boost to be more vocal in the community and connect with more people in the future.

Bad response

I’m introverted and speaking to people has never really been my thing. Although there might be some benefits from my expanding my network, I feel it would be draining for me. And I don’t really have time for networking right now. I might work on it someday, but for now, I’m happy with the way things are going.

Impatience

Good response

I can be impatient in stressful or high-pressure situations. This usually happens when we’re working on an important project with a short deadline. I’ve snapped at my coworkers or checked in with them a thousand times during the day to check their progress. But I realized that this behavior has negative consequences on the team, so I’m taking steps to get better. First off, I do breathing exercises that help me stay grounded. I’m also learning to trust them. And I started focusing on concrete steps we can take as a team to make us more efficient. We’re currently reworking several operational processes and I believe this will help immensely.

Bad response

I tend to be impatient when working on a particularly important project. I want everyone to be focused solely on the tasks at hand and I frequently check in with the team members to see their progress. But we’re working at a fast-paced digital agency, and this is part of the deal. We simply need to be quick and efficient. I do realize it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so the ones who cannot stand it probably shouldn’t work in agencies. Managers need to manage, after all.

Conflict resolution

Good response

I usually don’t get into conflicts with coworkers. But when I do, I often get frustrated and don’t know how to solve them. What I would do is speak to my manager or HR directly. But I realized this only creates unnecessary hassle, so I’m actively working on my conflict resolution skills. If anything happens, I take some time to cool down and I usually speak directly to the person involved. I also practice assertiveness and active listening, which helps me better understand the other side of the story. It’s definitely made things easier for me, and it actually helps me bond with people.

Bad response

I’m not that great at conflict resolution. But then again, I don’t get into conflicts often. I did have an unusual situation last quarter with one of the people from Accounting, but I didn’t want to handle it so I filed a complaint to HR. After all, it’s their job to deal with these things. I want to be focused solely on my work.

Decision-making

Good response

At times, it’s hard for me to make important decisions. I fear messing something up, especially if I don’t receive clear instructions. I usually relied on the higher-ups to make important choices because I’ve always felt like I didn’t have the proper authority to do so. However, I’ve recently attended some leadership seminars where I’ve had to make decisions on the spot as an exercise. Now, I’m more confident that I can make my own choices and I can be proactive when it comes to decision-making. I’m optimistic that I’ll improve in the future.

Bad response

I have a hard time making important decisions on my own. I fear messing something up and I definitely think important decisions should be made between several people, preferably top management. For this reason, I keep involving them and I don’t make decisions without their permission. It might take more time, but it makes me peaceful. Better safe than sorry.

Handling stress

Good response

I think I’m not handling stress appropriately. I tend to get overworked and burnt out as a consequence. I used to keep quiet about this until a bad period is over, but I noticed the same pattern over and over again. So I decided to change it. Now, I tend to be more open about my work and feelings, and I take breaks regularly. If I feel like I’m too stressed out, I communicate this to my manager and I ask for a few days off. It helps me rebalance and decompress, and it prevents burnout. I’ve been doing this for a few months now and I feel much better.

Bad response

I don’t respond well to stress. And there are always new projects and deadlines and complicated interpersonal relationships at work. So when I reach the point of burning out, I temporarily go into incognito mode. I still do my work but I prefer not communicating with my coworkers. I lay low until the storm is over and I usually get better after a few weeks.

Why Do Interviewers Ask “What Is Your Greatest Weakness”?

Interviewers ask “What is your greatest weakness,” as well as its variations “What are your weaknesses,” and “What do you consider your greatest weakness” for several reasons.

To assess your level of self-awareness

Interviewers will ask about your weaknesses to gauge your level of self-awareness — if you’re capable of identifying your weaknesses in the first place, and how you deal with them.

To identify where you might need to improve

From an operational standpoint, this question will help recruiters identify areas in which you can improve. Based on this, they’ll be able to assess if you’re the right fit for the position, if you’ll need on-the-job training, and similar.

To gauge your honesty

Depending on your answer and the weakness you choose to talk about, recruiters will be able to see if you’re being honest (for this reason, you should avoid mentioning “weaknesses” such as perfectionism — more on that later).

How to Answer the “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?” Interview Question?

Here are a few strategies for answering the question.

Reflect on your actual weaknesses

We all have flaws and weaknesses and that’s ok. That’s why you shouldn’t lie and diminish your weakness in an interview — or choose the one you don’t actually have in the first place.

Before the interview, carefully reflect on your actual weaknesses. If you’re being insincere in any way, believe us, it will show.

To make a list of your weaknesses, think about:

  • Past performance reviews — they are usually good indicators of areas of improvement
  • Situations in which you made a mistake
  • Situations when you didn’t know what to do
  • Examples when you miscommunicated something
  • Situations when you felt like what you’re doing is wrong/not good enough
  • Any fears and doubts you have
  • Any weaknesses or areas of improvement your manager has talked to you about

List them all, one below another, for clarity. It’ll help you pick the right weaknesses.

Choose a weakness that is not a deal-breaker

You have to be extra careful when choosing a weakness you’ll bring up in your answer.

Look at the list of weaknesses you created. Go through each to determine which one would be the best to mention.

Avoid weaknesses that are:

  • Directly related to the key skills for the job and would destroy your chances of landing it
  • Not relevant (if you’re applying for a Developer position, then, for example, marketing skills are not really relevant)
  • “Strengths” disguised as weaknesses (perfectionism, working too much, being too focused, etc.)

Ideally, you should pick weaknesses that:

  • Can be mitigated or improved upon
  • You’re already working on improving (how you plan to improve them should always be a part of your answer — more on that later)
  • Are aligned with the job description and company values

In other words, don’t mention a weakness that’s in direct opposition to the job description or company values.

For example, if you’re applying for a Sales Associate position, you probably shouldn’t mention that you’re reserved and lack persistence. But you can mention that you can get, for example, overly critical of your work, or a bit competitive.

If you’re applying for a Content Writer position, you shouldn’t mention having a lot of typos or struggling to meet deadlines. But you can say you sometimes obsess over research so it makes you a bit slower, or that you lack in-depth SEO knowledge, but you’re already taking an Ahrefs course, or something similar.

Be honest, but don’t overshare

First, avoid fake modesty or self-deprecation.

Understand the balance between honesty and self-preservation.

Be honest, but not at the expense of you getting that job. Being too honest about a minor weakness that’s not essential to the position might ruin the recruiter’s impression of you and cost you an offer.

And in reality, that weakness might not have any effect on your performance, or it could be easily corrected and improved upon through training or a course.

Describe steps taken to address the weakness

As mentioned above, you should always emphasize that you’re striving to improve your weaknesses. Showing actionable steps you’re taking to get better at things will demonstrate your commitment, desire for improvement, and reliability.

For example:

✔️ If your weakness is being insecure, talk about the ways you’re working on accepting your good and bad qualities, as nobody’s perfect. Talking to a therapist or reading books helps.

✔️ If you lack presentation skills, talk about how you’re volunteering to present new projects in front of smaller audiences and how you’ll gradually work your way up.

✔️ If you’re lacking data analysis skills, be sure to list courses you’re taking to improve that, or mentors you’re working with to help you with this.

You get the drill. And if you can, provide evidence of improvement (certifications, recommendations, public praises, etc.).

Put your “greatest weakness” answer into context

Put your answer into a broader context and explain how a weakness you mentioned won’t paralyze your performance.

You can do this by highlighting a strength that outweighs that weakness. Or, give an example of how you, with your skillset, fit into your team and do your part despite shortcomings in certain areas.

For example, if verbal communication is your forte and written communication is your weakness, you can describe a situation when you held presentations and QA sessions as part of the onboarding for new team members, while another coworker of yours created written documentation, as writing is their strength.

Showing how your strengths and weaknesses complement those of your team members will give recruiters a broader perspective and leave a more positive impression.

Be prepared for follow-up questions or pushback

Anticipate potential follow-up questions that might be uncomfortable. These might include:

  • How exactly this weakness hampered you.
  • Details about how you tackled the weakness.
  • Questions about if your colleagues or supervisors ever pointed that weakness out to you, and similar.

Not having an answer will get you confused and nervous, you’ll stutter, and the interview might go off the course.

That’s why we highly recommend coming up with answers in advance and practicing your response.

To show up fully prepared for this question (and potential follow-ups), use the Answer Builder to jot down the main points you want to cover. Don’t worry if you haven’t figured them out yet, as it’ll give you bite-sized tips on how to craft your answer.

How to answer ''What is your biggest weakness?'' - Big Interview Answer Builder
Step 2, which makes 90% of the difference, is to use the Mock Interview Tool. It’ll help you practice your response once you know the weaknesses you want to mention! You can record yourself as many times as you want until you get your answer right. Then, you’ll get detailed feedback on all elements of your answer: the power words you used, your pace of speech, filler words, vocabulary, and so much more.

Check out how this practice tool helped Abby land an offer at Goldman Sachs:

Stay calm and confident

Keeping your cool during the interview is crucial. But “What is your greatest weakness” is a tricky interview question, so a lot of candidates get especially nervous.

Remind yourself you’re not being interrogated: this is one of the most frequent, standard interview questions.

And remember that everything can be learned. What matters more is the way you talk about it, what you do about it, and if you’re able to even spot it.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Talking About Your Weaknesses

Here’s what to avoid next time a recruiter asks you about your weaknesses.

Providing cliché or disingenuous answers

  • I am too much of a perfectionist.
  • I work too hard sometimes.
  • I care too much about my work.

All bad answers. It’s called humble bragging, it’s dishonest, and it’s an old trick that interviewers can see through.

Disguising your strengths as weaknesses will definitely make you look bad — either like you’re hiding something or just being pretentious.

Being too negative

You don’t want to focus on the negative too much. Avoid detailing how a given weakness has been hampering your career so far.

Briefly mention your weakness, say how you’re working on improving it, end on a positive note, and move on.

Failing to mention steps taken to improve

You need to address the actions you’re taking to improve your weaknesses and become better in those areas.

Failing to mention this will make you look careless and not serious about your career, as recruiters will automatically assume you’re not doing anything to improve your skills.

Why Is a Truthful Answer to the “Weakness” Interview Question So Important?

When it comes to this question, it’s easy to see if you’re lying. So being honest and carefully mapping out your answer is key for several reasons.

Showing a willingness to grow and learn

Recognizing, accepting, and honestly speaking about your weak spots shows that you’re a mature person. It also implies you’re open to accepting help or feedback and you’ll enthusiastically work on improving. Such people are always desirable in any team.

Understanding your limitations

Sometimes we lack the capacity to understand ourselves and objectively observe our behavior. And that’s ok, as long as we’re making conscious efforts to get to know ourselves and understand our limitations.

So your answer to this question will show if you’re able to look at yourself objectively and accept and work on your limitations.

Ensuring success

Being honest about a weakness will also help you understand if the position is a good fit for you.

And even if you successfully conceal your true weakness (which is highly unlikely), you will regret it at some point, as the weakness will come back to haunt you and demonstrate you’re not a good fit for the job.

For example, let’s say you’re a great copywriter but you’re lousy at numbers and spreadsheets.

But the copywriting job you’re interviewing for requires you to also track and analyze results, create reports, and run data-based A/B tests. If you fail to mention this as your weakness (and the recruiter doesn’t figure it out), you might get the job. But you’ll end up underperforming. You’ll be stressed out and then you’ll burn out.

If you do mention the weakness, you might not get the job, which is fair enough. On the bright side, if they deem your copywriting skills strong enough, they might still hire you and have another person to manage the operational side of those campaigns. Or, better yet, they’ll help you get better and train you to be more analytical.

Summary of the Main Points

  • “What is your greatest weakness” is a question recruiters ask to gauge your level of self-awareness, to identify areas in which you need improvement, and to check if you’re honest.
  • To give the right answer, be truthful and reflect on your actual weaknesses.
  • Don’t try to present strengths as weaknesses (I work too much or I’m a perfectionist) — you’ll come across as suspicious and pretentious.
  • Always describe the steps you’re taking to improve your job interview weaknesses.
  • Prepare for this question in advance! 9 out of 10 other candidates won’t do this, so showing up prepared (and ready for follow-ups) will make you stand out.

_____________________

Need help to prepare for an interview? There are 3 ways we can help you:

  1. Learn the best tips on how to prepare for an interview here.
  2. Check out the most common interview questions.
  3. Tired of interviewing and not landing the job? Discover actionable lessons and interview practice here (Rated with 4.9/5 by 1,000,000 users).

FAQs

What are some good weaknesses to mention in an interview?

It’s good to mention weaknesses that are not directly related to key requirements for a position and that are easily fixable: handling stress, conflict resolution, time management, assertiveness, public speaking, or delegating tasks.

Can I lie about my weaknesses in a job interview?

No, this is a standard interview question that recruiters are trained for; they will spot a fake answer from a mile away. Be honest, choose your real weaknesses, and don’t try to disguise strengths as weaknesses.

Should I be concerned about additional questions regarding my weaknesses?

Additional questions about your weaknesses, such as how great of an impact they had on your performance, or if your managers already spoke to you about them, are completely normal. Recruiters just want to get to know you better and see the bigger picture. The key is to practice your answer so you’re prepared for these questions.

What weaknesses should I avoid mentioning in an interview?

Avoid speaking about weaknesses that could directly affect your performance in a particular position. Instead, focus on fixable weaknesses that will not be a threat to your performance. List actions you’re taking to improve them, too.

How do I answer 5 weaknesses in an interview?

Carefully think about which weaknesses to include (recalling past performance reviews might be useful) and make sure you’re honest. List fixable weaknesses that will not have a negative impact on your performance. Always say what you’re doing to improve your weaknesses.

Maja Stojanovic
A writer specialized in interview preparation and resume building. Spent 5+ years tirelessly seeking a meaningful, rewarding job. Which is exactly what I’ll help you find.

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