It’s one of those tricky questions that people love to ask candidates in a job interview: “What’s your biggest weakness?”

You might be tempted to say, “I have no weaknesses.”

That’s never a good idea.

It’s important to understand the purpose of this question. The interviewer isn’t trying to trip you up.

The fact is self-awareness and willingness to accept your faults are important characteristics in any job seeker. Employers look for employees who know that perfection is a misguided concept. This is why they ask candidates to share their weaknesses.

The best way to answer the question “What are your weaknesses?” is with honesty.

And give some examples of weaknesses to help the hiring manager understand where you’re coming from.

But make sure you also show how you have tried to overcome your weaknesses. Remember, if you frame a weakness in a positive way it will not reflect badly on you.

What Are Professional Weaknesses?

Professional weaknesses are concerned with traits that are related to your work ethic and behavior. Professional weaknesses can be gauged from your work history and your experiences in the workplace.

Self-awareness will enable you to cite weaknesses examples that will work to your advantage. You can ace your interview if you’re confident about both your strengths and weaknesses.

Here is a list you can use to structure your professional weaknesses:

First, you need to identify your weaknesses. Reflect on the following points and see if you can spot any weaknesses you have:

  • How well you deal with deadlines

  • How well you receive feedback

  • If you’re able to work in a team

  • If you have trouble communicating with clients

  • If you’re willing to learn new skills for different roles

Here are 10 examples of weaknesses that you can talk about in your job interview:

  1. If you want to say that you tend to be reluctant to ask for help, add a positive instance where you overcame your weakness. For example, you could mention that your previous supervisor guided you with one-on-one check-in meetings until you felt comfortable asking her for help on your own.

  1. Many people are afraid of speaking in public. The important thing is working to build confidence in it. Don’t just tell the interviewer that you get nervous when you have to speak in public. Add an instance where you overcame your fear with preparation and practice and made a presentation or pitch successfully.

  1. You may want to talk about how you find it difficult to say no to additional requests from your colleagues and seniors. When talking about a weakness like this one, also describe how it has helped you grow and polish other skills. Perhaps you have learned the importance of organizing your calendar, delegating where possible and staying on top of your tasks to manage your work better.

  1. Some people tend to avoid taking risks. But this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t step out of their comfort zone from time to time. If you want to share that you are risk-averse, also describe a time when you stepped out of your comfort zone to complete a task. Share how the experience made you  realize the importance of being open to opportunities

  1. It’s fine to dislike confrontations. Feel free to say so to the interviewer, provided you make it clear that it doesn’t negatively impact your work. You could say that you’re slowly overcoming your apprehensions about conflict by scheduling regular catchup meetings with your subordinates and superiors to give them feedback.

  1. It’s human nature to be critical of others. You can positively frame this tendency by talking about how you value feedback and open dialogue. Give an example of a time when you gave or received feedback that helped you improve your performance.

  2. Don’t worry if you have a habit of procrastinating! Reframe this positively by sharing how your tendency to procrastinate has made you more efficient in your work. Perhaps you schedule every task in a list to ensure you never miss a deadline. Or you use time management techniques to complete your work on time.

  1. If you struggle to keep a healthy work-life balance, feel free to mention it to the interviewer. Make sure you also talk about the steps you take to improve your work-life balance. The interviewer will appreciate your honesty.

  1. If you tend to take criticism to heart, you are not the only one. As you talk about this weakness to the interviewer, also mention how it has helped you.  Does your sensitivity to criticism inspire you to work harder? Talk about steps you have taken to get accustomed to feedback so you can accept it more easily.

  1. You can also mention which technical skills you feel you lack. For this answer, don’t choose skills that are central to the job you are applying for. Be sure to mention how you are learning these skills. Talk about classes you’re taking, books you’re reading and so on to brush up on it.

Can I write about weaknesses in my resume?

It is not recommended that you mention a weakness in your resume. Talking about your weakness in an interview is acceptable because you can explain it carefully. There is no scope for ambiguity when discussing it face-to-face. An interview also gives you a chance to show how you learned and grew from your weakness.

Writing a weakness in a resume may prove detrimental. If you’re not called for an interview, you won’t get a chance to justify your professional weaknesses or even mention the steps you’re taking to overcome them. The weaknesses you listed will leave a bad impression.

So it’s best to leave this question for your interview where you can give weaknesses examples for well-rounded answers.

Performing well in an interview is not just about preparing what you will say. Your attitude and body language convey a lot more than you may think. A positive approach when elaborating on your weaknesses will help you achieve career success.

Ace your job interview and learn how to speak effectively with Harappa Education. Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course will help you learn tools that you can use to tackle the question of your weakness in an interview confidently. Learn from our faculty’s personal experiences and get the job you want.

Explore the skills & topics such as Skills for ResumeDifference Between CV and Resume & How to Answer Strengths in an Interview question from our Harappa Diaries blog section and ace an interview.