Do you remember the last time you had to talk about the difficulties you faced in your life? … When you fell short of your expectations? … When you did not get the desired results? … or When you were not up to the mark? It is a difficult situation not just to think about, but more so if you need to talk about it. So, you can easily understand why responding to questions on weakness in interview can be tough and tricky!
Your mind is swimming in the sea of questions that bother you like, “Am I looking presentable? Am I doing well so far? Why is the interviewer asking this question now? What should I talk about in my response to keep my chances of getting the job alive? If I talk about a certain weakness, what will the interviewer think about me?”
You are worried about the kind of impression you will create about yourself if you expose your weaknesses in interview. While facing interviews, just the environment and your expectations can build subtle but powerful stress and pressure. So, talking about your shortcomings can be even more daunting.
However, here is something you need to know. Interview questions on strengths and weaknesses are common. Freshers or those in the early days of their career don’t usually have a lot to showcase about their work experience specific to a particular field.
This is why behavioral interview questions take center stage in their interviews. The good news is, that most interview candidates never prepare well for these questions.
Smartly answering interview questions on weaknesses give you the chance to stand out!
This is your opportunity to show the interviewer that – you have growth mindset, you embrace objectivity and you are consitently seeking to grow!
To prepare you for this tough interview question, we will dive into the following topics:
Let’s dive in!
8 Reasons Why interviewers ask Questions about Weakness In Interview?
Any interviewer’s main job is to find the best candidate for the given position. So they will try to understand you from various angles which are related to your nature, capabilities, skills, and professional experience.
Interview questions on strengths and weaknesses help them to dig deeper to find out the nuances of you that may not easily show up on your resume.
Your strengths give them insights into your possibilities, growth prospects, and the impact that you can bring.
At the same time, they want to know the following things about you, which can only be learned from the weaknesses you talk about:
1. Weaknesses that can hamper your performance
Every job needs its applicants to be strong in certain specific areas, depending on the key responsibilities of the role. If you are applying for a job and you are weak in the skills that are central to that position, the interviewer is most likely to reject you.
For example, in sales, the ability to generate and drive conversations is critical. So, if you display a serious shortcoming in your ability to communicate, it is a red flag for the interviewer.
Essentially, the interviewer is trying to find red flags.
2. Are you coachable
Especially when you are fresher or someone in the initial years of your career, the organizations need to spend an enormous amount of time and money in building the necessary capabilities in you. Just the hiring process itself tends to be fairly costly.
So, a candidate who is not willing to take feedback or shows a wrong attitude towards constructive criticism is a total no-no for any company.
This is why how much coachable you are is extremely important, more so if you have zero or next to no experience.
3. Level of your self-awareness
The first step to any growth or transformation is knowing yourself well. Most candidates are good at quickly pointing out their strengths.
However, only those who can clearly recognize their shortcomings or weaknesses tend to have an upper hand when it comes to long-term sustained career growth.
A candidate can be trained or his / her performance can be improved only when he knows where he or she needs to improve.
4. Your Honesty
Honesty is the bedrock of long-term relationships and healthy organizational culture. It is central to long-term sustained growth in any company.
To date, it is well known that almost 70% of job applicants lie during their hiring process. This kind of candidate can harm organizations and their customers in multitudes of ways.
Since talking about weaknesses in an interview is a hard thing to do, it gives the candidate a chance to build his credibility and weeds out those who are insincere.
5. Your emotional intelligence
Smart candidates have a healthy approach towards their weaknesses and shortcomings. They tend to look at these areas as opportunities for growth.
How a candidate talks and deals with his or her weaknesses talks a lot about their emotional maturity and character.
Interviewers are keen to understand this aspect of any candidate’s mindset because every job comes with its unique challenges which can trip candidates with a fixed mindset.
6. Your focus on growth
It is not enough to just know where you lack. It is far more important what you do with this knowledge.
What you do once you know your weaknesses tells a lot about your growth appetite. For interviewers, this shows your focus on self-improvement.
7. Your areas of improvement
Your answer to the question, “What are your weaknesses”, gives the interviewer a headstart to learn more about your areas of improvement.
They want to know if they will be in a good position to help you out with your shortcomings.
8. Your Inclination
All of us want to overcome those weaknesses which tend to hamper our growth in the area of our interest or ambition.
When you talk about specific areas of improvement, you are also indirectly talking about your inclinations and skills where you want to grow as an individual or professional.
11 Similar Questions and 4 Follow-up Questions on Weakness in interview
If the interviewer wants to understand your weaknesses and areas of improvement they can probe it in different ways.
Let us see what questions can they ask you to understand your weaknesses.
1. What feedback did you receive in your last assignment?
2. Where would you like to develop yourself more in the next 2-3 years?
3. What do you think is stopping you from achieving your highest potential?
4. What has hampered you in the past in your progress?
5. What is that one thing, if improved, can make you significantly better?
6. Where do you need to improve according to your self-assessment?
7. What do you think will make you a better fit for this position?
8. What is your biggest weakness?
9. Can we talk about the challenges you faced?
10. If I talk to your colleagues or your manager, what would they want to see you improve?
11. What is your biggest area of improvement?
Generally, once you start talking about your shortcomings, the interviewer may want to probe further depending on how he perceives your approach.
The follow-up questions can be ..
- Can you explain that more? or Tell me more about it.
- I can imagine how it must be for you. So what did you do about it?
- Really? How did that happen?
- So, what is your action plan for it?
Such follow-up questions are mainly to understand your sincerity and truthfulness. They want to understand how genuine you are and what have you done about it. Also, such questions make them understand your weaknesses in depth.
[ If you want to refer to a comprehensive collection check – 200+ Examples of Strengths and Weaknesses for Interviews ]
13 “Safe to Mention” Weakness in Interview Examples with 13 Sample Answers
Here is a secret that most of the freshers or those early in careers don’t know –
“All weaknesses that you can talk about are not safe. Some of them can hamper your chances of getting hired for your desired position.”
So, let us focus on those who can put you in danger first.
5 Weaknesses that you “never mention” in the Interview
1. Never say … Weakness is I am not good at collaborating with people
Working in teams is an essential part of success in any company or work environment. Talking about this weakness can deeply hurt your chances of getting hired in any interview.
2. Never say … I am not good at following the discipline
Even if most of us are not good at the art and craft of discipline, all of us desire to see it in others. Interviewers will always place an emphasis on seriousness towards work.
So, it’s much better to build that basic discipline in yourself rather than talking about it in interviews.
3. Never say … I am not good at handling multiple tasks or projects at a time
The modern workplace is constantly evolving with things changing at a rapid rate.
This means that employees these days will need to handle multiple tasks at once. It has become an essential part of anyone’s job responsibilities.
So, it is dangerous to show your inability to hustle at the workplace.
4. Never say … I find it difficult to adapt to new people or a new environment
It shows your lack of flexibility or in other words rigidity. Especially for freshers or those who are early in careers, this can be a red flag for the interviewers.
5. Never say … you lack the ability to think critically or solve problems
This is a huge no-no for anyone in the modern workplace. No company wants to hire such individuals.
But if you think this is your problem, the good news is that it may be just your perception of yourself. You simply need someone around you who can boost your confidence. All of us have the ability to think critically or solve problems in some field.
So, if you are thinking, “What are good weaknesses for an interview?”, let us look at the following list of “safe to talk about” weaknesses in interview.
List of 13 “Safe to talk about” Weaknesses in Interview and their Sample Answers
1st Weakness – “I get into too much details”
This happens when you tend to be a bit fussy about the tiniest details in anything you take up. This can come out of a perfectionist mindset.
Things like the “game of steps” and the focus on “completing 80% of your desired result” to find satisfaction can be cures.
Sample Answer 1
“I tend to get into as many details of any project or work at hand as possible. This has been my nature. I always want to ensure that I am 100% prepared. However, whenever there have been times of hustle or situations of uncertainty while facing tight deadlines, I have found that this hampers my performance. So, these days I first try to become clear about the end goals of any task at hand first. This helps me understand how to calibrate my efforts.”
2nd Weakness – Tendency to Overthink a bit
This is a related weakness to the first one but a bit different. Even with lesser details to focus on, overthinking can lead a person to think about the number of possibilities or outcomes that may not be most likely, just like the worries or concerns some of us have with things that may never happen!
Sample Answer 2
“I had a natural inclination to think deeply about things I work on or I am learning. Sometimes, I have taken hours to ensure that I get the results or understanding that I wished. This however can be a bit of an obstacle in delivering on time at the workplace. So, I am learning to carefully understand the results or deliverables expected in my role and their deadlines, upfront these days. This helps me avoid overthinking while keeping my focus on the task at hand.
I have also adopted a meditation practice to bring more stability and calmness to my thinking.”
3rd Weakness – I find it difficult to ask for help from other people
This can be a genuine difficulty or weakness for a few people. They are taught to be self-dependent for a good reason, but some of them tend to become too proud to ask for help or may feel pressure while asking for help that can create a certain level of pressure of reciprocation.
So, the same quality of independence that is a big strength can act as a weakness depending on the situation.
Sample Answer 3
“I have always been one of those, who want to handle challenges or tough situations on my own, as long and as far as I can. Even in day-to-day projects or work at hand, I try to complete them without any external help. This may be a bit of an ego or interest in understanding things on my own while solving problems. This however can be time-consuming and may not always be the right way in the corporate environment.
I slowly, I am opening up to seek advice or help from those who have been there and done it. It has made me more humble because I can see how fast and how much more creatively can we tackle work-related challenges or projects this way.”
4th Weakness – I find it difficult to let the tasks under my deliverables go to others
Some of us have a tendency to get so much involved and attacked to things that we do, that it becomes difficult to let them go. This can be troublesome in the corporate environment where things move fast and if you are good at what you do, you may be needed on different projects.
Sample Answer 4
“I have a tendency to get deeply involved in the projects I am working on. Even after the desired goal is reached, I want to keep working on them because I can see the next levels that can be achieved. So, if suddenly such work is assigned to some other person, I can get disappointed or unnerved.
I have realized that this is going to happen in the modern workplace, where things keep evolving fast. My manager may find me more useful on some other tasks once I finish what I have at hand. So, I have become more accepting of this”
5th Weakness – Not comfortable and adept at providing feedback to others
This is a genuine difficulty for some of us who are a bit soft in nature. We tend to care too much for others’ feelings and this can make it difficult for us to talk about difficult things, like constructive criticism.
The corporate environment and career growth however thrive on this kind of dialogue where people or organizations are given consistent feedback on their shortcomings or areas of improvement.
Sample Answer 5
“If someone asks me about my feedback for him or her, I used to avoid doing it. I was always worried about how they may feel f I mam honest with them. However, I have realized that this can hamper their progress. By avoiding responding to them, I am denying them the opportunity to improve.
So, I am learning to handle my emotions in such a way that I see giving feedback as an opportunity to seek growth in my colleagues and a bit of a practice of selflessness considering the worry of hurting them. This helps me open myself up with them and I feel like I am acting in good faith with them these days.”
6th Weakness – It was too difficult for me to say “NO” to others
This is quite a common weakness amongst most of the people we see around. Saying no can be difficult for us, because we feel worried about hurting others’ feelings.
In fact, the best performers are good at saying no to others as well as themselves. This helps them on the most important things through prioritization.
In workplace situations, this becomes a more difficult thing to do as well as an important skill.
This is because, on one end you want to keep cordial relations with your colleagues or managers but the inability to say no, you may get too burdened with unwanted work that can hamper your performance and deliverables.
Sample Answer 6
“In the past, people used to come to me and ask for help in their work. This would happen frequently with me because I found it hard to say no to anyone. By the time I would map the things I needed to complete and their deadlines, I would feel overwhelmed.
It has affected my performance as well as the tasks at my hand at times. So, I decided to learn how to politely and smartly say no to the tasks I did not want to take up.
These days, I take my time by saying, “Let me come back to you on this. Let me understand how things are stacked up for me on the work front. I will commit only if I can clearly see that I have the bandwidth to deliver on this.
This gives me more time with a calm mind to access things and then decide whether to commit to a new task or project or not.”
7th Weakness – Don’t have experience in …
Freshers can genuinely talk about their lack of experience with behavioral skills as well as field-related or technical skills, which can be important in corporates.
Think about things like leadership, behavioral skills like the ability to negotiate, real-life experience of Facebook advertising, or programming skills in specific software. Most of such things are hard to learn during college days or the initial years of a job. So, they are perfectly acceptable.
Sample Answer 7
“I currently lack experience in content writing and planning. I have always been deeply interested in marketing and have learned important things like programmatic advertising and email marketing.
However, I have realized that good content is at the heart of any good marketing.
So, I am focused on improving myself in this area. I have started taking up small projects in my spare time where I can hone these skills.”
8th Weakness – Sometimes I am too sensitive …
Some of us are naturally more sensitive by nature. We may have emotions that can be easily pricked or ego that may be easily hurt.
We may have experienced a more protected life where we didn’t face the world in its most usual or rough form. So, some of us need to proactively build the temperament and mindset to receive feedback with a good attitude or handle criticism with a stable mind.
It is good if you are upfront about such weaknesses because it shows your hunger to grow by being coachable.
Sample Answer 8
“I have realized that I tend to get emotional and sensitive over things. I have even had the tendency to take things more personally, even when not needed. However, I understand that I need to take the comments and inputs from other people as constructive and productive feedback, rather than pure-play criticism. So, I am mindful these days of understanding the intent behind someone’s remark and understanding when people are trying to improve me.
With this process, I have been able to improve my empathy a lot in the last 3 years. This helped me handle responsibilities of being a departmental coordinator for our department of 240 students.”
9th Weakness – I have been judgemental of others at times
Here is a secret for you. Almost all of us are judgemental of others. After all, it is our ability to judge things and people that help us survive in life. It tells us what is good or bad .. what is safe or harmful … what will be fun or stressful.
It is just that, some of us are more patient while judging and tend to collect more data points while thinking from multiple angles about a person or situation before creating opinions.
If you are not one of them, it will be a lifeskill to master for you. It will help you in your professional as well as personal life immensely. Fortunately, this is a highly learnable skill.
Talking about it may even impress the interviewer, especially if you are able to talk about how you are working on it.
Sample Answer 9
“In my projects, I would hastily judge others if they were late in delivering on their tasks or if their standard of work was not up to the mark. However, I have seen the harm that it can do to teamwork and team morale. So, I have been working on my impatience and have been practicing empathy to understand the root causes of such problems when they occur, instead of blaming people in my mind. My first step nowadays is to seek where I can help them when they are falling short. This creates warm and deep relationships in the workplace. I have seen the results improve dramatically this way.”
10th Weakness – I lack in my leadership experience
Natural interest in leadership as a strength or skill is rare. More importantly, it is perfectly natural not to be inclined towards leadership, as everyone need not be a leader in life.
That said, some of us realize that in their choice of a career eventually, they will need to learn leadership. So, in case you have become aware of the need, but are a bit inexperienced in it, say it out loud.
Ensure that you also talk about the measures you are taking to bring that experience into your life.
Sample Answer 10
“So far, I have not been able to get opportunities to lead people. But this is something that I really work on. If you asked me now to take the lead on something I would not feel confident in doing so. However, to improve in this area I want to carefully observe managers and other leaders in the organization when they drive various projects and initiatives. This will help me build the skill of leadership over a period of time.
I will also actively seek mentors for my growth in this direction. As a small step, I have started taking small initiatives myself like planning get-togethers, working in the placement cell of our department, and taking lead in some of the tasks at home.”
11th Weakness – I get anxious and stressed if the project is not completed by the deadline
In the faced and rapidly changing modern world, “overwhelm and anxiety” or “stress and pressure” are common problems. There is simply too much on our plates, especially if we are susceptible to peer pressure.
If you are ambitious about your outcomes, it is possible that you may have developed a tendency to get stressed if you are unable to complete the task or project at hand on time.
Talking about this weakness is fine as far as you can demonstrate it with a clear example of your experience that shows that you indeed worked hard to meet the deadlines. Express exactly where and when you felt stressed. Finally will be good if you talk about how you have tried to improve your productivity and time management skills.
Sample Answer 11
“I have seen myself getting stressed and anxious whenever I see that we were running over the deadlines. I genuinely feel proud of myself whenever I get things done on time. It builds a lot of credibility for me. That said, this has not always been a pleasant experience for me as well as those working with me.
However, I am learning to remain calm in difficult situations. My practice of sports and meditation has helped me improve in that direction of handling uncertainty and overwhelm.
Now my focus is on the question, “What I can do?” to carefully craft my next steps and explore newer possibilities against the odds stacked up in a tough situation. It keeps me positive and moving forward.”
12th Weakness – Not good at presenting to a large audience
Most of us never get a chance to talk in front of a large audience. So, this shortcoming is perfectly fine to express in an interview.
As a fresher or someone in the first few years of your career, you are not expected to have this skill.
However, if you speak about it, then you are showing a natural interest in areas like leadership or marketing. Think through why you really want to overcome this weakness. It can give you and the interviewer subtle powerful insights into your drive and ambitions.
Sample Answer 12
“I have a bit of fear of public speaking. I would love to have the confidence to stand up to a group of people and give a talk. However, I am trying to improve in this area.
I have joined a couple of online courses and offline groups where we practice public speaking.”
13th Weakness – I tend to get a bit controlling …
We are living in a highly engineered world. This means we as humans have done a lot of work to make the world happen in the way we want it.
We are born and brought up in this kind of structured world and may develop a tendency to consistently expect things to happen the way we want. For some time, they may also happen the way you want, but it is not guaranteed.
The biggest element in this uncertainty is the people involved in and around your life. They will behave the way they want, not necessarily in line with your expectations.
This is where some of us tend to become more controlling because we haven’t faced or accepted the fact that people will take their time and will act in ways that are comfortable or logical for them. Especially, highly successful individuals who have mostly got things the way they want in their life need to learn this more. It can be a roadblock to their progress on the career front.
However, all of us can learn to become more patient and accepting.
Sample Answer 13
“I have seen a tendency to be a bit exacting at times in my nature. I tend to want things done in a specific way. However, I have realized that it can deeply hurt the motivation of people working with you. Plus there is never one right way of doing things.
So, I have started trying to understand the point of view of others more. I am more comfortable to let the control go to others these days. I place more faith in teamwork delivering the results while overcoming the odds. I have seen that this approach makes others take more ownership as well.”
Overall, this list of weaknesses in the interview and powerful sample answers should help you in your next interview.
Let us look at a few things that will help you prepare and deliver a smart answer in your next interview.
How to Smartly Talk about your Weakness in Interview?
Here are 7 tips to prepare your best answer for weakness in interview questions.
1. Explore your weaknesses first
It is time for a bit of self-assessment. This can be a bit uncomfortable, but just performing this self-audit of your shortcomings, challenges, and weaknesses will easily put you in the top 1% of the self-aware people.
10 Questions that Help you find out your Weaknesses
- Where have I struggled in my life?
- What have I generally hated doing in my life?
- What do I find difficult in my life? What is difficult to do or understand for me?
- What can I do much better if I had some help available?
- What feedback have I received to improve in anything I have done?
- What are my failures in life?
- Where have I fallen short of my own expectations?
- Where have I been not up to the mark?
- What do my friends or people I know do much better than me?
- What would I want to hire a coach for, given a chance?
Sincerely answering these questions for your own self, will open doors to your clarity in understanding your weaknesses or areas of improvement.
2. Understand the key requirements and responsibilities of the job opportunity
Most candidates will avoid getting into the details of expectations and responsibilities that a job opportunity, they have applied for, comes with.
This is dangerous because this is critical to understand which strengths and weaknesses to talk about.
3. Be honest and specific
Don’t try to hide your weaknesses or try presenting them in a positive light – employers are likely to see through this, and it will reflect poorly on you.
Instead, be honest about your shortcomings and focus on talking about how you are actively working to improve them.
4. Avoid Talking about weaknesses that hamper your possibility to succeed in the role
This is important because this can easily cost you a job. Interviewers will always avoid hiring anyone who has innate lack of the skills or strengths which are core to the job.
So, if you talk about your innate need for perfectionism in an interview for a job that is done in a high-speed environment, it can raise serious doubts because perfectionism creates either lack of action or a lack of good decision-making. Both of these hamper speed.
Choose the weakness, that does not affect your primary responsibilities for the position offered and which can be improved in due course of time without causing any disruptions at your work.
5. Keep an Assertive tone and positive body language
How you emotionally handle your own shortcomings is a sign of your emotional intelligence. Your body and tone talk a lot more about your comfort and acceptance of your own weaknesses.
In many ways, this also shows that the employer can actually help you overcome them because you are emotionally mature and highly coachable.
6. Mention your efforts to improve
Just after mentioning your weaknesses, it is time to talk about your proactive action towards improving yourself in those areas of improvement.
If you avoid talking about it, it can show that either you are lazy or lack the drive to grow.
Also, what and how you talk about your efforts to improve shed light on your logic and ability to find your own solutions.
7. Use it as an opportunity to build a strong impression
Smartly talking about your weaknesses can actually set you apart from the rest of the candidates, because most candidates never do this.
Your answer shows the interviewers that you can effectively deal with criticism. You take feedback positively. You have a strong will and drive to grow. You can take on challenges and failures won’t take you down. You are ready to turn your criticism and feedback into opportunities to find your next levels of performance.
Plus, as soon as you look at answering questions on weakness in the interview, your own pressure and anxiety go down, helping you actually come up with an intelligent response!
3 Mistakes to Avoid while answering Questions on Weakness in interview
1. Avoid trying to act smart
Candidates will generally try to talk about good things or skills creating problems for them. You may want to talk about things like how some act of generosity put you in problematic situations, that you didn’t imagine before.
Interviewers can easily detect this unnecessary attempt to act smart. It can turn them off.
2. Saying that you cannot think of a weakness
This can seem either highly arrogant or a total lack of self-awareness. Both are a complete no-no for interviewers.
3. Avoiding answering the question
Thi can get the interviewers suspicious of you. They may think,
“What if you have some bad history in life or work? What if you have done things that are dangerous or not worth mentioning? What if you simply don’t care about the job or improve upon yourself? Will this candidate is not coachable?”
If this is how they start thinking, then you may have already reduced your chances for the final section by more than 50%!
The Bottom Line
By now, you can see how and why the questions on weakness in the interview, are your key moment during the interview process to stand apart and build a strong impression on the interviewer.
The beauty of preparing for this question is in 2 things. It makes you much more self-aware and it gives you a chance to build a positive and productive mindset toward working on areas of improvement.