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50 Examples of Professional Weaknesses

 , updated on November 07, 2023
A professional weakness is an employee talent, ability, habit or knowledge area that requires improvement. It is common for employers to document weaknesses as "areas for improvement." It is also common for employees to be asked to state or document their own weaknesses in job interviews or as part of a performance management process. In this case, it is not in the employee's best interests to document any serious shortfalls but rather focus on abilities beyond the requirements of their role. The following are commonly used as professional weaknesses.
Avoiding action items
Building relationships & trust
Conflict resolution
Decision making
Documentation & record-keeping
Email etiquette
Follow-through
Following policies & processes
Formal communication
Handling criticism
Handling difficult customers
Inattention to detail
Industry knowledge
Inflexibility
Interpersonal conflict
Lack of assertiveness
Lack of ownership
Lack of initiative
Language skills
Leadership skills
Low commitment
Management skills
Managing commitments
Managing remote work
Meeting management
Negotiation
Organizational skills
Organizational visibility
Overanalyzing
Overcommitment
Perfectionism
Presentation skills
Prioritization
Problem solving
Product knowledge
Productivity
Professionalism
Project management
Public speaking
Punctuality
Quality of analysis
Setting expectations
Stress management
Teamwork issues
Technical know-how
Time estimation
Time management
Unresponsiveness
Work quality
Written communication

Public Speaking

Fear of public speaking or a general lack of experience in front of a crowd.

Presentations

Communicating information in smaller settings such as a meeting.

Workload Management

Taking on too much. For example, being pushed by a vocal stakeholder to take on commitments that are essentially impossible to achieve.

Prioritization

Mistakes of prioritization such as perfectionism whereby you spend too long improving something.

Stakeholder Management

Failing to manage commitments or the expectations of your stakeholders.

Technical Skills

A technical skill that you're trying to improve such as scripting.

Hard Skills

Hard skills are anything that are easy to validate with a standard test. For example, accounting knowledge. These are excellent weaknesses if you want to communicate a desire for education, training and self-learning.

Know-how

Specific knowledge that you need to develop. For example, an elevator technician who doesn't know how to repair a particular brand or model.

Industry Knowledge

Entering a new industry where you have little experience. For example, a telecom professional who transitions to banking.

Language

Language skills such as a second language that is required for a role.

People Skills

People skills such as maintaining a friendly demeanor towards customers.

Leadership

Leadership challenges such as defeating resistance to change.

Management

Inexperience with management or some shortfall regarding the direction and control of teams.

Project Management

Planning and controlling projects. For example, a software developer who wants to communicate to an employer that they aren't capable nor interested in project management.

Organization

Some organization skill or habit that you're trying to improve such as taking detailed meeting minutes.

Processes

Being too strict and rigid with respect to internal controls. The opposite weakness would be ignoring important controls and applying ad hoc processes where formal processes are better.

Knowledge Management

Knowledge management issues such as a failure to capture useful documentation.

Competition

Being overly competitive or not competitive enough. For example, a salesperson who allows a peer to take over in meetings.

Influencing

Influencing such as communicating your wins and value to management.

Communication

Communication issues such as being too direct or not direct enough.

Difficult Conversations

Difficult conversations such as a manager who has trouble talking to an employee about their poor personal hygiene.

Emotional Intelligence

Perceiving the emotions of others and behaving accordingly. For example, a manager who fails to see how strongly an employee feels about something.

Customer Service

Customer service challenges such as dealing with difficult customers.

Productivity

Productivity issues such as problems managing meetings to be brief and useful.

Work Quality

The quality of your deliverables. For example, a software developer who tends to deliver buggy code.

Adaptability

A tendency to resist change or a failure to adapt to change. For example, a software developer who wants to use their favorite old technology for everything who resists new approaches.

Risk Taking

Too much or too little risk taking. For example, a team manager who fails to produce brave initiatives but seeks only safety and comfort for their team.

Tolerance for Disagreement

An inability to engage in debate and creative tension without becoming overly emotional.

Personal Resilience

Problems dealing with stress and failure such as taking criticism too personally.

Types

The following are common types of professional weakness.

Answering "What is your greatest weakness?"

When asked for your greatest professional weakness, it is advisable to avoid highlighting debilitating weaknesses while showing self-awareness and a drive to self-improve.

Notes

A common approach to this question, is to point out some obvious shortfall. For example, if you are applying for a role that requires fluent German language but your German is weak.
Employers ask this question because they are looking for employees who are self-improving such that they identify and address their own weaknesses. As such, pointing out a weakness that is really a strength such as being "detail-oriented" may feel inauthentic and could indicate that you don't see your own faults. It isn't typically in your best interests to state serious faults or any fault where you can't explain how you're improving.
Next: Professional Strengths

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