It’s one of the most challenging interview questions to answer.
“Can you tell me about your greatest weakness?”
Why would an interviewer ask this question?
Companies often ask this question because they want to hear how you answer it. When a job seeker displays traits like self-awareness and learning from mistakes, it’s a sign that they could be a good addition to the team.
When you need to answer this question, remember that it’s all about framing your weaknesses as strengths, without coming across as insincere. These templates can help.
10 Templates You Can Use to Answer the Prompt, “Tell me about your biggest weakness.”
1. “I tend to procrastinate.”
“I’m sometimes prone to putting things off until the last minute. Procrastination has created issues for me several times in the past. A while ago, I decided to get serious about overcoming this tendency before it became a default behavior. I read up on some ideas and learned about a few time management apps like Trello. It turns out that being able to easily move my tasks around in this visual space allows me to prioritize much more effectively. Now I create space in my schedule for free time and space my work out more evenly, which means I’m not waiting until the last minute anymore.”
Why it works: Procrastination is a common weakness, and your interviewer may empathize with your struggle. Still, this weakness could affect job performance, so it’s crucial to explain how you’ve worked to overcome the issue.
2. “I have difficulty giving constructive feedback.”
“I find it a challenge to criticize a coworker or someone who reports to me even when asked. I become concerned about hurting the person’s feelings. A few months ago, though, I decided to work on how I respond in these situations. When I needed to edit a document written by someone I was training, I took the opportunity to respond thoughtfully, pointing out specific issues and making a few suggestions for improvement. They were very grateful to get this kind of feedback. Once I realized that constructive feedback is valuable to people trying to learn and grow in their jobs, it became much easier to handle.”
Why it works: Framing your answer within a real-life example is an effective way to show how you’ve grown. Employers seek out confident employees who invest in helping their coworkers develop alongside them.
3. “I can seem overly harsh.”
“I have learned that there’s a fine line between coming across as straightforward and coming across as too harsh. It is helpful sometimes to have a ‘take-charge’ nature, at times when strong leadership is a must to get a situation under control. However, I realized I was taking on that role at times when it wasn’t necessary or helpful. I asked my career mentor for some advice, and she helped me to hone my leadership skills. Now, when confronting a challenging situation, I am able to lead with confidence without slipping into drill sergeant mode. I’ve improved my empathy and have better relationships now with my coworkers.”
Why it works: This is a brave, authentic answer. Admitting to a personality flaw, especially one that could affect the way you handle teamwork, can be risky. When you explain that you took some time to reflect on the issue and then worked to be better, however, you’re showing the interviewer that you are self-aware and capable of overcoming obstacles with grace.
4. “I’m not the best public speaker.”
“I tend to get very nervous if I have to get up in front of people and speak. I don’t like having all those eyes on me at all. It’s probably one of the reasons I gravitated toward the tech field. Much of this work is done at a desk and doesn’t often require public speaking. Still, I think it’s important to improve when you have an issue like this. Not only do you gain confidence around that skill specifically, but you can apply the experience to other areas where you might need to improve. What worked for me was taking a Tastemakers class at my local community center. Each week, I’d have to deliver a short speech and get tips about how I could improve. By the end of the course, I was much, much more confident in front of the mic. That felt great.”
Why it works: Not only does this answer show personal growth, which is a highly valued skill among interviewers, but it also focuses on a skill that isn’t vital for the job in question. It’s not going to detract from your duties if you have a problem with public speaking, but it could be an asset should the need arise.
5. “I’m almost too detail-oriented.”
“I can get too caught up on the small details sometimes. This means I rarely miss anything important, but being overly focused can be an issue. It can affect my overall efficiency, for example, or create a bottleneck in the team’s workflow. I’ve gotten better at recognizing when I’m slipping into that mode, though. I’ve found that when I take a short break, it gives me a chance to look at things from a big-picture perspective when I get back to work. I can move past small details and consider projects in a more helpful way. And when I do need to tackle something that needs a detailed list, it’s easy for me to switch back into that mode.”
Why it works: Detail-oriented people are often drawn to the tech industry because the jobs in this field tend to feature a rigid, predictable structure. Being detail-oriented is a must for many tech positions. However, as this answer demonstrates, too much of a good thing is still too much. This answer addresses the issue head-on and then details how this person was able to shape this weakness into a useful tool.
6. “I have trouble saying no.”
“I love to help other people so much that it can become a problem if my workload grows too big. I can wind up feeling burnt out and overwhelmed, which affects my efficiency. In the end, I can wind up feeling like I’ve let someone down because I couldn’t fit all the work in on time. I decided to work on this tendency over the past year or so. What has helped the most is maintaining a visual organizer. It’s easier to say no when I can envision my workload in this way.”
Why it works: Being unable to say no is a common problem, and this answer strikes at the heart of why it’s particularly problematic at work. The solution is simple but effective and shows self-reflection and initiative.
7. “I have a hard time letting go of a project.”
“I can have a difficult time closing a project. I want to make sure I’ve reviewed every small detail, and I tend to be too critical of my own work. Going over the same project again and again is clearly not the best use of my time, so I decided to work on some strategies for moving on from projects more smoothly. One thing that has helped is to set a deadline for revisions when I’m scheduling tasks related to the project. If there’s a genuine issue that needs addressing, I can adjust this, but most of the time, this helps keep my work flowing.
Why it works: This answer is a twist on the classic humble-brag response, “I’m a perfectionist,” which every interviewer has heard more than once. It’s essential to show the interviewer how you’ve learned to manage issues that can affect your work, which is precisely what this answer does. The solution to allow only a set amount of time for review is both compelling and unique.
8. “I can have trouble asking for help.”
“I’ve learned that while it’s important to be able to work independently, there are times when everyone needs some help. The trouble is that sometimes, I hate asking for it. I don’t want to appear unknowledgeable or incapable of getting my work finished. I decided to reach out to a manager I admire and ask her if she’s had this issue before. Lucky for me, she had, and she had overcome this tendency. She shared some strategies for recognizing when it’s time to ask for him, and she pointed out that I have coworkers for a reason. Many of them have knowledge or skills that could improve the project I’m working on, but I am missing out on those benefits if I never ask them to help.”
Why it works: This answer works because the interviewer gets a sense that this person is an independent, reliable asset. It’s good that this person recognizes that not being able to ask for help can impact the outcome of a project and has worked to overcome it. Turning to a mentor is a smart move, too.
9. “I dislike confrontation.”
“I try to avoid confrontation sometimes by compromising on what I want or need, in the interest of being nice. This can get in the way when I need to lead a team through a challenge, especially if the team is made up of people with differing opinions. There are times when you have to tell people things they don’t want to hear. I’ve worked to develop a leadership style that is direct and helpful. When I stop and listen carefully, and then work together with someone to find a good solution, there usually isn’t even a true confrontation. It’s just two people tackling a problem together. That shift in mindset has made a big difference.”
Why it works: Confrontation in the workplace is something every manager wants to avoid, but there are times when a leader needs to take charge. This answer shows how the person was able to change their behavior by shifting their mindset.
10. “I’m a terrible speller.”
“I know I’m a smart person, but for some reason, I’ve always had issues with spelling. It’s usually not an especially big deal, but I find it a little embarrassing at times, and I am sometimes worried I’ll miss something that makes it through to a client. Built-in spell checkers help a lot, but what has really made a difference is installing Grammarly on my computer. Because it is able to check spelling in the context of a sentence, it finds more potential mistakes. Now I feel more confident when I need to send a document on to a client. It was an easy fix that’s made a big difference for me.”
Why it works: This answer shows that the person took the initiative to find a better solution when they realized their first fix wasn’t enough. Spelling errors matter more in some jobs than others, but it’s valid to worry about avoiding them when communicating with clients.
Turn Your Weaknesses into Strengths
When you encounter this question, be honest, and demonstrate self-awareness. Remember, answering these questions gives you the chance to show the interviewer that you can recognize and overcome personal challenges.
Ready to launch a better job search? Find out how Betterleap is automating the job search process and connecting job seekers with their dream jobs.