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9 Weaknesses That Are Strengths

It is common for job interviewers to ask candidates to give an example of a weakness. This is done to gauge the candidate's knowledge of performance. The motivation for this is to discover productive individuals who see their own faults and automatically work to improve their own performance without direction. There are two ways to effectively answer this question. You can give an example of a real weakness you had and how you worked to improve such that it is no longer an issue. Alternatively, you can use this question as an opportunity to countersignal such that you state weaknesses that actually reveals your strengths. The following are examples of the latter approach.


Stating that you sometimes feel stress on the job but then giving a concrete example of how you managed stress in a professional way.
Sometimes I feel stress on the job and this can be difficult. For example, when I was a sales person for _______ motors we had a major recall and I handled more than 50 customer inquiries about the problem. Initially, many customers were angry and emotion but I worked with each customer to help them understand the scope of the problem, how it would be fixed and to extend out apologies as a company. In many cases, this helped me to build a closer relationship with customers in the end such that many became repeat customers.


Describe an experiment that failed that produced knowledge that was valuable such that the end-result was positive.
Well, I've tested strategies that initially failed. For example, we had increased costs for one of our ice cream products and margins were declining so we decided to experiment with increasing our prices by several different levels to gauge customer reaction. In order to test this strategy, we only increased prices in one region and soon discovered that it deceased sales more dramatically than we had hoped. We redesigned the strategy to decrease the size of our products as opposed to changing the price and this approach successfully increased bottom line revenue by 11%.


Hiring managers may find perfectionists difficult and unproductive and this can be perceived as a real weakness. However, attention to detail is critical to some professions and roles.
I am detail oriented and like to investigate, fully understand and do things the right way. For example, when I manage a project I create a full project plan, closely monitor progress and adhere to methodology.


Speaking your mind in a direct way. In cultures that prioritize group harmony this may be viewed negatively. However, many managers may value candor.
I tend to be candid. For example, when I was a salesperson at ________ technology I would openly admit the weaknesses of our product to customers. As counterintuitive as it may seem, I found this helped me to establish trust with the customer and close sales.


Talkativeness can be negatively perceived, particularly in roles that require concentration such that teams may work for hours at a time in relative silence. However, an outgoing character is important to some roles such as sales.
I am talkative and tend to easily engage the people around me. For example, if I go to a conference I may end up talking to hundreds of people such that I develop a large number of contacts with time.

Difficulty Delegating

A difficulty with delegating work to others can be presented as a strength whereby you show that you are hands-on, diligent and connected with business realities.
I tend to be very hands-on and closely monitor work that I have delegated to others. For example, I always reviewed any designs before they were pitched to clients to make sure that they were up to standard.


Overcommitting can be a real problem as you may fail to meet stakeholder expectations. However, mistakes with overcommitting indicate that you are aggressive, competitive and brave. These are critical qualities for some roles.
I take on a great deal of work and have overextended myself on occasion. I find that if you want to be truly productive you need to be willing to take on a high workload. As such, I have often had to work unusually long hours to meet my commitments to stakeholders.

Lack of Assertiveness

If you sense that a manager is worried that you will challenge them for their job or generally cause them headaches by being capable and outspoken, you can craft your response to indicate that you are willing to fall in line and follow their direction.
I tend to follow direction and am often unwilling to challenge authority. For example, even if I believe a project is a flawed strategy I will work to deliver my part.

Elephant in the Room

If there is an obvious weakness that you will have in a role, you can use this question as an opportunity to address it.
For this role, my most obvious weakness is that I lack experience in the investment banking industry. I plan to study on weekends and achieve __________ certification within the first year to get up to speed.


Keep in mind that what is a weakness / strength for one job may not be viewed as a weakness / strength for another. For example, one firm may require individuals who are creative self starters who find their own path while another firm may prefer candidates who simply follow orders without getting too creative about it.
Avoid directly saying negative things about yourself even if you go on to explain how you've improved. People tend not to listen completely and may simply latch onto anything negative you say. For example, instead of directly saying that you're a perfectionist you can say that you're detail oriented and imply perfectionism.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about influencing.
Ambiguity Effect
Active Silence
Anecdotal Evidence
Agree To Disagree
Building Trust
Call To Action
Anticipating Objections
Creative Tension
Charismatic Authority
Cruel Wit
Charm Offensive
Cultural Capital
Choice Architecture
Devils Advocate
Dry Humor
Consensus Building
Expectation Setting
Constructive Criticism
Eye Contact
Heliotropic Effect
Loaded Language
Loaded Question
Door In The Face
Peak-End Rule
Plain Language
Ethos Pathos & Logos
Rhetorical Device
Social Influence
Social Perception
False Dilemma
Social Proof
Foot In The Door
Informal Authority
Weasel Words
Information Cascade
Inside Jokes
Intrinsic Reward
Logical Argument
Managing Up
Name Dropping
Paradox Of Choice
Political Capital
Red Herring
Rhetorical Question
Rule Of Three
Self Monitoring
Small Talk
Social Tension
Straw Man
Touching Base
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