It can be difficult to answer the interview question “What is your greatest weakness?”—especially when you were expecting to discuss the skill set, talents and capabilities that make you the strongest candidate for the job.

Framing your greatest weaknesses in a job interview positively can prove challenging but when you combine self-awareness with an action plan, you can take the opportunity to stand apart from other job applicants with your answers. The key to answering this common question in your job interview is to prepare by identifying weaknesses that still communicate strengths. This will show the interviewer you’re introspective enough to know your areas of self-improvement.

In this article, we take a look at 10 weaknesses and how to answer the job interview question “What are your weaknesses” in a way that reflects on you positively and one the hiring manager will remember.

What are your weaknesses?
When asked in a job interview about your weaknesses, you can pivot your answer to also discuss the steps you’re taking to improve on your weakness and turn it into a strength. Examples of weaknesses you might want to cite during your interview include:

Getting caught up in details
Unable to let go of projects
Trouble saying “no” to others
Managing missed deadlines
Little experience in certain areas
Lacking confidence at times
Difficulty asking for help
Working with certain personalities
Maintaining a work-life balance
Requiring specificity

Example weaknesses for interviewing
Here are 10 examples of the best weaknesses to mention in a job interview:

  1. I focus too much on the details
    Being detail-oriented is typically a good thing, but if you’re someone who tends to spend too much time on the specifics of a project, it could also be considered a weakness. In your interview answer, be sure to explain how you’re making improvements in this area by looking at the bigger picture:

Example: “My greatest weakness is that I sometimes focus too much on the details of a project and spend too much time analyzing the finer points. I’ve been striving to improve in this area by checking in with myself at regular intervals and giving myself a chance to refocus on the bigger picture. That way I can still ensure quality without getting so caught up in the details that it affects my productivity or the team’s ability to meet the deadline.”

  1. I have a hard time letting go of projects
    When you’ve devoted your time and effort on something, it’s easy to feel apprehensive about marking it complete or passing it on to another team for next steps. There’s always room for improvement and some people tend to over-criticize their work or attempt last-minute changes, which can threaten the timeline. If this is your weakness, you can share how you’re striving to improve by giving yourself a deadline for all revisions and being proactive about changes, so you’re not waiting until the last minute:

Example: “My greatest weakness is that I sometimes have a hard time letting go of a project. I’m the biggest critic of my work. I can always find something that needs to be improved or changed. To help myself improve in this area, I give myself deadlines for revisions. This helps ensure that I’m not making changes at the last minute.”

  1. I have trouble saying “no”
    Helping colleagues on projects and properly managing your workload is an artful balance. From your employer’s perspective, someone who accepts all requests seems dedicated and eager—but can also be someone who does not know their limits and ends up needing help or deadline extensions to finish their work.

If you’re so eager to take on new projects, you can’t bring yourself to say “no” to them, share how you’re working to better self-manage by organizing your tasks and setting more realistic expectations with yourself as well as those around you.

Example: “My greatest weakness is that I sometimes have trouble saying ‘no’ to requests and end up taking on more than I can handle. In the past, this has led me to feel stressed or burnt out. To help myself improve in this area, I use a project management app so I can visualize how much work I have at any given moment and know whether or not I have the bandwidth to take on more.”

  1. I get impatient with missed deadlines
    While expressing outward stress or frustration over missing a deadline can be considered a weakness, employers value workers that place importance on deadlines and strive to keep projects within the planned timeline.

If you’re using this as your job interview weakness, frame your answer to focus on how you appreciate it when work gets completed on time and ways you’re improving on your own, as well as helping to improve processes to get work done more efficiently.

Example: “My greatest weakness is that I get impatient when projects run past the deadline. I’m a stickler for due dates and get uncomfortable when work is not completed on time. To avoid this, I’ve started being more proactive and paying attention to how I’m reacting to make sure I’m being motivational and helping foster efficiency.”

  1. I could use more experience in …
    Whatever the case is for you,, sharing something you would like to improve upon shows interviewers you’re self-aware and like to challenge yourself. A few common areas people need experience in include:

Verbal communication
Written communication
Team leadership
Interpreting analytics
Delegating tasks
Providing constructive criticism
Specific programs (i.e., “I would like to improve my PowerPoint presentation skills.”)

Tip: If gaining experience in a particular area is your example weakness, be sure that you don’t answer with a weakness that’s essential to the role you’re interviewing for.

  1. I sometimes lack confidence
    Lack of confidence is a common weakness, especially among entry-level contributors. However, it can sometimes cause inefficiencies in one’s work. For example, you might feel unqualified to speak up during an important meeting when your idea could actually help the team to achieve a goal.

If this is the weakness you choose to present in your interview, emphasize why you value confidence, your understanding of the value you offer and the ways you’ve practiced displaying confidence in the workplace.

Example: “In the past, I have sometimes struggled with confidence. It has been helpful for me to keep a running document of the impact I have made on my team and at my organization to better understand why I should be confident about the skills and unique talents I bring to the table.

I have also made it a point to voice my ideas and opinions during meetings when I feel they are appropriate and will add value to the conversation. Because of this, our team ended up adopting my idea for a new financing process, which resulted in a 10% decrease in time taken to plan our annual budget.”

  1. I can have trouble asking for help
    Asking for help is a necessary skill both when you’re lacking expertise in some area and when you’re feeling burned out or can’t handle a workload. Knowing when and how to ask for help shows strong self-awareness and helps the organization by getting ahead of a possible inefficiency.

Example: “Because I am independent and enjoy working quickly, it has been difficult for me to ask for help when I need it. I have learned that it is much more beneficial both for me and the business to reach out when I do not understand something or feel burned out with my workload.

I also understand that many experts around me have specific knowledge and skills that can make my work better. While I am still working on it, I have been able to produce more high-quality work as a result of getting help from those around me.”

  1. I sometimes have difficulty working together with certain personalities
    Even the most flexible of people can have trouble working with others that display certain characteristics or personality traits. Having good teamwork skills also means having a strong awareness of how you work with others and ways you can adjust your approach to better serve the organization.

If this has been a weakness of yours in the past, explain the personality types you’ve had trouble working with and quickly identify the reasons why. Then discuss ways you’ve adjusted your communication or work style to better work toward a common goal together.

Example: “In the past, I have found it difficult to work with aggressive personality types. While I understand diversity in personalities makes a business strong, I tend to quiet my own ideas and opinions around louder colleagues.

To combat this, I have made it a point to spend more time with colleagues I feel uncomfortable working with. By learning more about them, their communication style and motivations, I am better able to collaborate with these personality types so that we both equally contribute our strengths and skills.”

  1. It can be challenging for me to maintain a work-life balance
    Finding work/life balance is important to maintain motivation in your job. While it’s certainly honorable and shows a strong work ethic to spend your time and energy on work, it’s also necessary to prioritize resting, going on vacation, spending time with your family and enjoying hobbies.

Example: “Because I truly love my work and have ambitious career goals, it can be difficult for me to find a balance between my professional life and personal life. I have seen a negative impact on my motivation and focus when I ignore my personal needs.

As a result, I have made it a point to focus on creating space in my schedule to focus on volunteering and spending time with my family. Taking small actions like putting my phone on silent during dinnertime is helpful. When I maintain a good work/life balance, I have found my output is more qualitative, I can get more work done and I feel excited about coming to work in the morning.”

  1. I’ve been uncomfortable with ambiguity
    Many jobs will require candidates who are comfortable defining tasks on their own and working toward goals individually. This means they should be experienced, thoughtful and responsible with ambiguity in the workplace.

While it’s a beneficial skill to closely follow detailed instructions, it’s also necessary to be able to determine what it will take to achieve the desired outcome.

If this is the weakness you’re presenting in a job interview, explain the success you’ve found following instructions but also your career potential when finding comfort with ambiguity. Also explain steps you’re taking to define your workday when given ambiguous tasks or goals.

Example: “In my last position as a marketing intern, I found that my supervisor gave very specific instructions regarding my responsibilities. Because I became familiar with having a strong direction, I tend to be unsure when approaching an ambiguous assignment or goal.

It’s a goal of mine to become not only comfortable but successful working with ambiguity. To do so, I have created a personal framework for times when I feel overwhelmed or confused by an ambiguous task including conducting structured research and asking subject matter experts for advice. Doing so has helped me thrive when working on ambiguous tasks or when working towards less specific or defined goals.”

Tips for discussing your weakness(es)
The first step to answering a question like “What are your weaknesses?” is identifying your own areas of improvement. You can use example lists, such as above, to start this introspective exercise. When you share your answer during your job interview, keep a few things in mind:

Name an actual weakness and be truthful when discussing it
Remember to share in your answer all the insight you’ve gained
Avoid choosing a weakness that’s irrelevant to the job
By presenting the problem (the weakness) and the solution (steps toward improvement), you can transform your weakness into a strength.