It is very common for hiring managers to ask about your strengths and weaknesses during a job interview. Like any question, your response holds weight. An interview’s purpose is to evaluate your ability to get the job done. Think of this as an opportunity to highlight your positive qualities and demonstrate a growth mindset.
Everybody has both strengths and weaknesses. Answering this question gives you the opportunity to provide a contextual example of how you use your strengths to shine and how you work to improve any weaknesses that are relevant to the role.
This article explains why interviewers ask this question, lists examples of strengths and weaknesses, and offers suggestions to help you answer wisely.
This common question is a helpful tool for interviewers to understand your personality and working style. When hiring managers ask about your strengths and weaknesses, they evaluate a few things:
How you conduct a self-assessment
Whether you are aware of your positive traits and how you use them in the workplace
Whether you can address your weaknesses and how you’ve worked to improve them
How your skills and traits will balance out those of current team members
Learn how to prepare for a job interview the right way! This unique collaboration between Big Interview and Coursera will teach proven techniques to help ...
8,070 already enrolled
Average time: 1 month(s)
Learn at your own pace
Skills you'll build:
job interviews, Communication, Networking, Resume writing, Nonverbal Communication
It may be helpful to first reflect on this question from the hiring manager’s perspective. What qualities or competencies are they looking for in this specific role? Consider how you can leverage your strengths to align with a key competency of the job description.
For your strengths, be confident. Don't be afraid to brag a little. This is your chance to highlight what makes you such a great fit for the job. Mention one or two top strengths, and provide examples of how you’ve used them in the workplace. If you can back this up with measurable results, even better. Reflect on these two questions as you formulate your answer:
Why are you good at X?
How does X help you at work?
Here is a sample structure for a response:
I am [STRENGTH]. I learned this through [HOW YOU DEVELOPED STRENGTH], and this allowed me to [IMPACT of STRENGTH] at my current/previous job/experience.
Read more: Interviewing Skills to Benefit Your Career
When you approach this question, think about the positive qualities you embody and the skills you possess that serve you well in the workplace. Here is a list of strengths to consider:
Able to lead
Expert in a particular skill or software
Develop key power skills to boost your work life. Master powerful people and soft skills for achieving professional success.
3,355 already enrolled
Average time: 2 month(s)
Learn at your own pace
Skills you'll build:
Presentation Skills, Communication Skills, Professional Development, People Skills, Soft skills, teamwork, Listening Skills, Communication, Critical Thinking, Creative Skills, Powerpoint Skills, Agility, Quality, Time management, Problem Solving, Creative Thinking, People Management, Organizational Conflict, Social Skills, Effective Communication
These examples can give you an idea of the type of structured response. They demonstrate that you are confident of this strength and that you will use it to succeed in this specific role.
I am very collaborative. I’ve always enjoyed working on teams and it is one of my strongest attributes. In my previous job as a marketing research analyst, I led a project that involved diverse stakeholders, focus groups, and extensive field research, which taught me about my ability to inspire others in stressful situations. The client used our insights to create a sustainable (both environmentally and financially) product.
2. Technical know-how
I love staying up-to-date with trends in the tech industry. From my current role, I know the ins and outs of SAP very well, so I can anticipate problems before they arise. I get excited tinkering around with gadgets in my personal life, and this trait has come in handy in the workplace when I get to know a piece of software or program intimately.
As a content creator, I love brainstorming new approaches to reach our consumers. But I am most known for my attention to detail. I care a lot about word choice because I believe that precise language can transform a piece from good to great (and I never miss a deadline). My blogs and articles consistently perform well and reach the top of Google searches.
4. Positive attitude
My positive attitude is definitely one of my strengths. I have been a restaurant server, a tutor, and a health aide in the past decade, all jobs that require plenty of energy and endurance. I can view a situation from multiple perspectives and empathize with my customers, students, and patients to understand their needs at any given time.
5. Solving problems
I am a solutions-oriented person and a quick learner. In my role as an electrical engineer, I learned to perform well under pressure when designing equipment because our team would not be able to win a contract unless we produced the blueprints quickly, with as few resources as possible. In these circumstances, I am not afraid to ask questions to figure out the challenge. I do extensive research for every client, so I can be extra prepared.
We all have weaknesses—that's just a part of being human. But your capacity to recognize a weakness and work toward improvement can actually be a strength. The key to talking about your weaknesses is to pair self-awareness with an action and a result:
What's the weakness?
What have you been doing to improve?
How has that improvement had a positive impact on your work?
Your interviewer may approach this question in different ways, so you’ll want to be prepared for the possibilities. Variations might include:
•What would your current manager/colleagues say is your biggest weakness?
•If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
•How do you bounce back from mistakes?
•What areas in your career do you feel you could improve?
Explaining that you are aware of a particular weakness and have taken steps to improve is a sign of maturity and drive that is attractive to employers. Here is a sample structure for a response:
I used to have trouble with [WEAKNESS]. I've been working to address this by [ACTION] and I realized I was improving because [IMPACT].
When preparing to discuss your weaknesses, choose one that gives you the chance to demonstrate growth and enthusiasm for learning. Here are some weaknesses that you might select from for your response:
Prone to procrastination
Uncomfortable with public speaking
Uncomfortable with delegating tasks
Extreme introversion or extroversion
Limited experience in a particular skill or software
What would you say if you knew you could say it well?
6,712 already enrolled
Average time: 4 month(s)
Learn at your own pace
Skills you'll build:
Persuasion, Creativity, Communication, Tact, Confidence, Poise, Advocacy, Rhythm, Problem Solving, Dynamic Movement, Resilience, Optimism, Ingenuity, listening, Networking, Clarity, empathy, Respect, Verbal Dexterity, Good Judgment
It's normal to feel uncomfortable with the prospect of airing your weaknesses to a potential employer. But remember, this is an opportunity to showcase your ability to honestly assess your performance, respond to feedback in a positive way, and continually improve—essential traits in almost any role.
The following examples can help you formulate your response.
I can be quite critical of myself, which can lead to negative self-talk and eventual burnout. I've found that I can avoid this by recording my goals, objectives, and key results and setting aside time to celebrate milestones and achievements, big and small. This not only helps me focus on how I'm benefiting the team, but it also has also helped me get better at prioritizing my most impactful tasks.
2. Fear of public speaking
I am a naturally shy person. Since I was a kid, I have always felt nervous presenting in front of the class and that translated into the workplace. A few years ago, I led a big project and was asked to present it to board members. I was so nervous, but I realized I had to overcome this fear. I signed up for Toastmasters as a way to practice public speaking. Not only did this help get me through that first presentation, but it also helped me feel more confident as a leader. Now I'm helping my own team build presentation skills.
Procrastination has long been a bad habit of mine. I think it stems from a fear of failure, to be honest. In my last job as a real estate agent, keeping up with appointments and critical paperwork was essential to success. I started using Google calendar and apps like Trello to manage my time better. Crossing things off my to-do list makes me feel accomplished, and I've learned to tackle harder tasks early in the day when I'm feeling refreshed and less likely to put them off.
4. Issues with delegating tasks
I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I sometimes struggle to delegate tasks to my teammates. This has led to taking on too much. As a manager, I've tried to be intentional about recognizing the strengths of those on my team and delegating tasks that match those strengths. It was hard at first, but I've seen that by communicating clear expectations and trusting my team, they rise to the occasion and I'm able to manage projects more efficiently.
5. Lack of experience with skill or software
I haven't had as much experience with Python as I'd like. When I decided to make a shift into data analytics, I knew I'd need to use a statistical programming language to perform efficient analysis. I signed up for a Python for Everybody course, and I've found I really love it. I'm excited to start applying the techniques I'm learning to help make my workflow more efficient.
Learn everything from Excel to cybersecurity to business writing with over 5,000 courses, certificates, and degrees from world-class institutions on Coursera. Join our global community and discover your next strength!
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.