One of the most common questions candidates are asked during job interviews is: “What is your greatest weakness?”

Although it might seem challenging to answer, interviewers ask this question for a reason. In this article, we will examine what that reason is and provide you with clever ways to answer this question.

If you demonstrate an understanding of the question and provide a well-thought-out response, you’ll better your chances of getting hired.

So, let’s dive right in!

Key Takeaways

  • Candidates’ self-awareness, honesty, and capacity for reflective growth are all evaluated through the “What is your greatest weakness?” interview question.
  • When answering the question, focus on the weakness that is not detrimental to the job, provide an example of how it affected your performance at work, and describe the kind of steps you have taken to improve on the shortcoming.
  • The best way to discover your weakness is to make time for introspection, ask for feedback, and evaluate your past work performance.

Why do Interviewers Ask “What is Your Greatest Weakness” Question?

Recruiters often ask the greatest weakness interview question to identify whether candidates possess a set of attributes desired by the recruiters. Some of these attributes include:

  • Candor. Recruiters need to know if you are capable of being truthful about the aspects of your performance in which you may fall short. When you finally land a job, everyone will be able to see your biggest flaw, so it is in your best interest to be open and honest about it.
  • Introspection. Candidates who are self-aware are able to clearly identify some of their strengths and weaknesses and think about ways to work around their shortcomings.
  • Growth mindset. Even if you have certain areas that need improvement, it is critical to demonstrate that you are committed to working on and enhancing these areas so that they can contribute more favorably to your professional development.

How to Answer “What is Your Greatest Weakness” Interview Question

Now that you understand why interviewers ask this question, let’s talk about a greatest weakness answer that won’t hinder your chances of getting the job. Here’s what you should do:

Pick Your Weakness Wisely

It is critical that you are honest about your shortcomings, but you must also exercise caution when choosing which of those shortcomings to highlight.

Do not choose a shortcoming that is directly relevant to the job that you are trying to get. For example, f you are looking for a job in graphic design, don’t state that you have poor graphic design skills. Instead, bring up the challenges you have had in the past with planning.

Example: In the past, I found it difficult to carefully plan out all the steps I had to take to complete a project. But soon enough, I started taking steps towards improving that as I realized the importance of proper planning in achieving successful outcomes.

Provide an Example

To make your answer more persuasive and tangible, include an example of how your greatest weakness has affected your job in the past.

This demonstrates your self-awareness and professionalism and reveals that you understand the consequences of dismissing your shortcomings.

Example: I started working on my project right away, figuring things out as I went along in an effort to save as much time as possible. But, this approach brought me to a point where my work did not satisfy the standards.

I ended up wasting my time and not generating satisfactory outcomes. Because of this one incident, I saw the importance of making a plan and sticking to it if I wanted my efforts to be less time-consuming and provide better outcomes.

Demonstrate How You Are Improving it

After outlining your weakness and the effects it has had, it is imperative to illustrate the steps you have taken or are taking to solve the problem. Your forward-thinking approach to personal growth is demonstrated by how you illustrate this.

Example: I immediately began looking for methods that would help me become a better planner. I started by taking a class on how to organize and manage projects. What I discovered there I have recently begun using in my own creative endeavors.

I started documenting my project ideas and creating plans to make sure I was always heading in the right direction. To maximize productivity, I routinely assess my current planning processes.

9 “What is Your Greatest Weakness” Sample Answers

greatest weakness

We’ve compiled a list of nine greatest weakness interview questions and answers for every working professional to review before going on a job interview.

No matter if you’re looking for the answers about your greatest weakness as a student or a professional, these examples will help you.

#1. Lack of Technical Skills

A candidate who does not demonstrate an adequate level of knowledge or ability in a technical field is considered to lack technical skills. Examples of such technological fields include programming languages, software proficiency, graphics design, and website development, to name a few.

The best way to answer this question is to mention how your lack of technical skills has impacted your work in the past and the kind of effort you have put into improving those skills.

Sample Answer: In the past, I struggled to make effective use of high-end graphics design software. This caused my output to fall short of expectations. However, I decided to take advantage of a training program in graphic design software, and it has helped me tremendously.

Throughout the training, I learned useful techniques for manipulating visuals and making new kinds of designs. This training program has provided me with invaluable knowledge and skills that I have already put to good use in my professional life.

#2. Lack of Confidence

In case you lack confidence, avoid responses like, “I am just not a self-assured individual,” when asked about your greatest weakness. Instead, in your greatest weakness answer, you can focus on how your lack of confidence impacted your performance and how you have improved on it since then.

Sample Answer: I used to be afraid of sharing my thoughts in a group setting. There was once a crucial meeting where I had a great idea for a design for the project we were working on, but I lacked the confidence to bring it up. I have made it a point since then to improve my sense of confidence.

I thought it would be beneficial to take a class where I could practice public speaking and receive constructive criticism from my classmates. This has helped boost my confidence, allowing me to confidently present my ideas and make a greater impact on the success of the organization.

#3. Poor Time Management

The failure to set priorities and arrange tasks effectively is a sign of poor time management. Saying things like “I am terrible at managing my time” is something you should try to avoid. Instead, formulate your answer around your ability to see your time management shortcomings and improve on them.

Sample Answer: My poor time management in the past has caused me to produce poor work. There were moments when I didn’t give myself enough time to complete a vital design, which caused a disagreement with the head of the graphic design department.

Since then, I have developed a system for keeping my schedule on track by breaking down big tasks into smaller ones with clear deliverable deadlines. These strategies have helped me become more consistent in my time management and more efficient across the board.

#4. Difficulty Working in a Team

This weakness stems from difficulties with collaboration and communication with coworkers. The statement “I prefer to work on my own” is not an acceptable response to the greatest weakness question.

Instead, state that you may have had challenges with teamwork in the past, but you have taken steps to overcome those issues.

Sample Answer: Teamwork can be challenging, especially when members have contrasting viewpoints. Once, I had a hard time coordinating during a project meeting because of divergent viewpoints.

To improve my teamwork skills, I solicited feedback from my coworkers, focused on improving my active listening and empathy, and reviewed relevant literature. The outcomes of my efforts have improved my collaborative abilities and broadened my understanding of how to leverage diversity to achieve common goals.

#5. Poor Work-Life Balance

This shortcoming involves difficulties balancing work and personal commitments. Avoid saying: ‘’Work is everything to me, so I have no trouble striking a good work-life balance.”

Sample Answer: I used to struggle with maintaining a healthy work-life balance, prioritizing my career above my personal life much too often. There were extended stretches when I worked through the night, placing stress on my body and strain on my relationships. I coped with this by establishing firmer limits, rearranging my priorities, and giving myself more time for self-care.

#6. Lack of Organization

This weakness points to a lack of capacity to maintain order and structure in one’s work activities. So, in your response to this question, avoid fixating on your poor organizational skills.

Instead, mention how your performance in the past suffered from a lack of this skill and the kind of steps you have taken since then to improve.

Sample Answer: My inability to stay organized has severely hindered my productivity and efficiency. I wasted a lot of time looking in the wrong places for things I needed, such as a design sample.

To make up for this shortcoming, I have implemented some beneficial organizing strategies, including keeping everything in a folder on my cloud storage for easy access. Implementing this and other methods has helped me increase my productivity by making it easier to find what I need when I need it.

#7. Difficulty Saying “No”

Some candidates may struggle with saying “no” to extra assignments. If that’s the case, never use a phrase like “I can’t say no.” Instead, remember the situations in which you had a hard time saying no and focus on the things that have helped you hone the skill.

Sample Asnwer: I have been in situations where I didn’t say no despite being swamped with my own duties. This has caused me stress and decreased my output. But I have been making concentrated efforts to set boundaries and prioritize my commitments.

I now consider the potential repercussions of taking on more before saying yes. This strategy has helped me maintain a more consistent workload and increase the quality of my output.

#8. Having Trouble Seeking Assistance

During a job interview, a candidate’s inability to ask for help when they need it might be seen as a weakness. “I would rather figure things out on my own than have to rely on others” is not an acceptable response.

What you can respond with instead is how much you value seeking assistance when needed.

Sample Answer: I could barely ask for assistance when I was faced with challenging situations. This occasionally slowed progress or yielded subpar outputs. But now, I see the value in working with others and the benefits of relying on their expertise.

I am not shy about seeking advice from my superiors and peers when I need a different perspective. As a result of the shift, I am able to operate more efficiently.

#9. Lack of Patience

The lack of patience to deal with setbacks is the final weakness we are going to mention in this list, but an important one nonetheless. If this is your greatest weakness, don’t say: ” I have no patience.”

A more appropriate reply would include your ability to identify this shortcoming and the actions that you have taken to become more patient.

Sample Answer: I noticed that I would get upset any time progress was slower than I had hoped. So, I made it a goal of mine to become more patient. Mindfulness and cognitive reappraisal have been really helpful in the process.

I try to remind myself that the journey is what matters most, not the final destination. Despite the challenges I have faced along the way, I have found that cultivating patience has helped me persevere.

How to Discover Your Weakness

two women talking

It is critical to your growth as an individual that you take time to reflect on your shortcomings. If you are honest with yourself about your weaknesses, you will have a better idea of where you should direct your attention to ensure that you make better progress.

Therefore, here’s what you can do to discover your weakness:

  • Make time for introspection. Reflecting can provide a wealth of information regarding the type of person you are and assist you in determining your strengths and areas that you could develop more.
  • Ask for feedback. Listening to what other people have to say about your abilities might be helpful in determining what aspects of your performance need to be strengthened. Therefore, make it a point to approach people working in the same field as you and get their feedback and ideas on how you may advance your career.
  • Consider your past performance. Review any previous performance evaluations you may have in order to identify any potential problem areas and determine whether or not there are any. If you do not have any assessments to go over, you should simply think about all of your previous work experiences and encounters and see if anything noteworthy stands out to you.

When you have a good notion of all of the areas in which you can improve, the first thing you should do is acknowledge that you have shortcomings and focus on ways to make those areas stronger.

Creating a plan that details specific actions you may take, such as enrolling in classes, finding a mentor, and other similar measures, is one way to accomplish this goal. In addition to this, it is essential to be determined because working hard can help you improve your skills more quickly.

6 Tips on How to Answer “What is Your Greatest Weakness” Interview Questions

Here are some additional pointers to help you answer the question about your greatest weakness:

  • Be concise. Maintain brevity in your response. If it’s not absolutely necessary, you shouldn’t provide any additional details.
  • Never minimize your flaws. Avoid downplaying your flaws or pretending you don’t have any. This will only serve to demonstrate that you are arrogant and lack self-awareness, neither of which are desirable attributes in a candidate.
  • Don’t feel sorry for yourself. When discussing your shortcomings, avoid treating yourself with pity or being unduly critical of yourself. It will not be productive in any way.
  • Demonstrate a growing mentality. It is critical to demonstrate that you are capable of finding solutions to problems and that you are motivated to develop your skills in order to become a better professional.
  • Practice in advance. Just as you would go over some unique interview topics, it is also important to practice your answer to this common interview question so you can come off confident and calm during an interview.

Final Thoughts

After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of how to respond to the “What is your greatest weakness?” question during a job interview.

Depending on how you respond to this question, recruiters will be able to determine whether or not you possess highly desirable characteristics, such as self-awareness, honesty, and a drive for progress.

Make sure to spend some time on introspection, ask for feedback, and review past work performance to identify your weaknesses. After that, you should have no issue providing an example of how your weakness affected your work and demonstrate how you have already improved on it.