One of the most common interview questions a job candidate will have to answer is, “What is your greatest strength, and what is your greatest weakness?” This question is critical to help a hiring manager understand what would make you an ideal candidate based on your qualifications. Your answer should showcase your ability to engage in self-reflection and improvement on your weak spots, as well as your ability to demonstrate and capitalize on your strengths.
First, below are lists of strengths and weaknesses for you to choose from and practice your answer. The vast majority are soft skills, but you could use a hard skill as well. Make sure to look at the job description before you choose the strength and the weakness for your answer. Next, we give you sample answers for this important job interview question. These sample answers cover numerous personality traits and help you create the best answer for yourself and the particular job.
List of Strengths
- Taking Initiative
- Positive attitude
- Dedicated and committed
- Continuous learning
- Seeing the big picture/strategic thinker
- Not bogged down by the little things
- Good memory/quick thinker
List of Weaknesses
- Extremely extroverted
- Too sensitive
- Presentation skills
- Overly critical of myself
- Shy/too introverted
- Not skilled at delegating work
- Trouble saying “no”/taking on too much responsibility
- Too focused on the details
- Not detail-oriented enough
- Can suffer from lack of focus/distraction
- Get impatient when projects miss deadlines
- Need more experience in verbal communication
- Need more practice sharpening my writing skills
- Need more experience leading a team
- Need more experience interpreting data
- Need more experience in giving constructive feedback
- Sometimes lack confidence
- Sometimes do not ask for help soon enough
- Need to maintain a better work/life balance
- Attempting to please everyone
- Assuming I know more than I do/not asking enough questions
- Starting a project without understanding all requirements
Example Answers: “What are your strengths?”
I am always moving forward, with an ear to the ground, to find what people want most. If I come across a product or service that could resonate with my customer base, I do whatever it takes to get that idea off the ground. I live for the hustle and can motivate others to achieve big things. I believe that you should always put in the hard work yourself, so I’m not comfortable managing from the sidelines. I believe in rolling up your sleeves and keeping at it till the job’s done.
Too many mistakes can be easily avoided, so I make attention to detail my top priority. Too many projects can be undone by a simple spelling error or by not adhering to the brand design guidelines. I believe that any job worth doing is worth doing right the first time, and I have formed the habit of making several passes through what many might consider a “finished product” just to be 100% sure that I haven’t left anything out.
I believe that collaboration is vital to the success of any business and to the good of every project and every employee. Certain tasks can and should be performed individually, but no one can operate in a vacuum forever. We need to be able to rely on each other for ideas we might not think of alone, and we can learn to form deeper levels of trust if we are able to work together to achieve our goals.
4. Taking initiative
I am always the first to take initiative. I’ll raise my hand for an extra project or be the first to volunteer for a new team. I don’t see extra work as a burden, but as a way to prove that I am dedicated to the success of the team. Every job is important enough to do well, and I believe that if I have the time and the ability to do it, I absolutely should.
I consider myself a very trustworthy person. I’ve been entrusted with highly sensitive responsibilities where others depended on me, and I’ve always valued being given that trust. To me, this doesn’t just apply to the duties of my job, but also to the relationships I have with those around me. They trust me to do my part, and I don’t let them down.
6. Positive attitude
I am great at keeping a positive attitude through rain or shine. I hate when people let their work or a complaining customer get them down. If you’re doing the best you can, don’t let someone make you feel bad for it! There’s too much negativity in the world, and if I can be a ray of sunshine in someone’s day, then I feel like I’ve done my part.
I don’t believe in waiting till the last minute or letting myself get bogged down by distractions. At the beginning of every project, I draft an outline and break the work into manageable chunks, then map out exactly what I need to do to keep steady progress toward the end goal. I do my very best to stay focused on achieving those milestones, even if it means extra time or energy to make it happen.
I stand by my principles and that of my company, no matter what. Company policies are in place for a reason, and doing what is right is always of the utmost importance. If that comes into conflict with what a client demands, I will always be respectful and show common courtesy, but I will also be sure to work with my supervisor to find a way around potential conflicts of interest.
9. Dedicated and committed
I believe in loyalty to the project and to the team. I always try to find something about my work that resonates personally with me and stick to it until I’m satisfied that I’ve given my very best effort. My teammates, my manager, and my company deserve nothing less from me. Even when things get hard or a deadline gets moved up, I stay focused and committed to the end goal no matter what.
10. Continuous learning
I am always trying to learn the latest trends and innovations in the field. I know that the technology we use is constantly evolving, and staying on top of the newest products and software will help me provide even better service to my clients. I read up on the latest industry blogs every week and try to attend monthly industry association meetings whenever I can. Plus, I’m genuinely interested in the material, so the extra time involved never feels like work.
I love to think outside the box. Chances are, there’s a better way to do something that someone hasn’t thought of yet. I am excited by new and refreshing ideas and love to keep the conversation going by asking, “What if?” My favorite way to work is to be given a totally blank canvas and to have my boss tell me, “Go make something amazing happen.” That freedom is so energizing!
I never met a wall I couldn’t climb. Setbacks and last-minute changes don’t faze me. I know that there’s always a way to get through a challenge, so I never, ever, ever give up. I believe that if my coworkers and I stick to something, there’s nothing we can’t accomplish. I’ll do whatever I can to meet my obligations and will support others in doing their very best too.
I’m a team player when it comes to getting work done, but I’m also concerned that everyone is seen and heard throughout the process. Far too often, we just expect everyone to fall in line and get the job done without considering their needs and feelings. I’d rather take some time out of my busy schedule to talk with someone who might be going through a hard time. That is more meaningful to me than checking a box, and is certainly more meaningful to the well-being of the team.
I love being the staff cheerleader. I throw myself wholeheartedly into my work and into my teammates. I really enjoy encouraging others as we move forward toward a common goal. I can naturally keep my energy up throughout a long shift or a long-term project and don’t let myself get bogged down when things get tough.
I roll with the punches pretty easily and don’t throw my hands up when a plan goes sideways. I think on my feet, always looking into alternatives as needed. If we let ourselves get too rigid, we run the risk of giving up too soon and missing out on new avenues for success. This also means that if a customer is looking for a particular product we don’t have in stock, I’m happy to discuss any alternatives we do have on hand or offer to order them what they want as soon as it becomes available.
My granddad was right: honesty is always the best policy. I believe in telling the truth, no matter the scenario. I’m always careful to remember who I’m speaking to and will consider others’ feelings and what the situation calls for, but lying just to make someone feel better or covering up the truth is never the right call. I’d rather have to duplicate work or take the blame for a failure rather than be seen as lacking professional and personal integrity.
New ideas excite me, and I’m constantly dreaming up new ways to reach my goals. The status quo is not for me. I make it a point to try to encourage my team to think outside the box – if there’s a way to do something that’s never been done before, I want to be the one to do it. I think we can learn and grow better when we don’t settle for “same old, same old.”
I consider myself a very patient and even-tempered person. It takes a lot to get under my skin. I just feel like most things aren’t worth getting upset over – it’s just wasted energy that doesn’t get anyone any closer to solving their problems. I also don’t mind waiting for the right solution to a problem, and I won’t hound my coworkers every five minutes for their part of our group work. I believe they’ll meet their deadlines and will give them every opportunity to deliver.
I believe in respecting others above all else. People place too little emphasis on common decency, or we just blow past it in favor of social niceties that seem way too impersonal. Whenever I have an interaction with somebody, I make sure they know that I respect them as an individual and that I will work to meet their needs and desires however I can.
Working in a high-stress environment means self-control is critical. I have seen several coworkers fall victim to outbursts or breakdowns, but I have been able to keep my temper and emotions in check. I try to keep a cool head no matter what is going on around me, which not only means that I can provide better service to my customers but that I’ll be able to do my job better.
I pride myself on being able to do lots of things well. I love learning new skills and finding ways to apply them in my own life, especially in the workplace. There’s always room for us to grow and better ourselves. Plus, keeping myself open to new experiences can help me do my job better and could open the door to new opportunities. Any chance I get to attend a professional development session, I love joining those groups and learning new skills – who knows, I might even find something I really love to do!
If my team needs a leader, I’m always ready to step up. I don’t think it’s right to throw my authority in someone’s face, but I think it takes a strong leader to help others succeed and to accomplish our collective goals, and I love being the one to help everyone do just that. I can quickly assess the strengths of my teammates and guide everyone to do their part and get the job done.
23. Seeing the big picture/strategic thinker
I love getting into the details of a project, but I never lose sight of the bigger picture. I make a point at various times throughout a project to take a step back and take a “30,000 foot view” to see how all the pieces interact with each other. I make sure to look ahead and make sure that work on one phase won’t negatively impact work on another future phase. This helps me make sure that the overall finished product receives just as much attention as each individual element.
24. Not bogged down by the little things
It’s inevitable that issues are going to come up during any project, but I don’t let little setbacks get me down. I don’t ignore them by any means, but rather than let those things paralyze me, I instead think about how we can resolve them. I have had coworkers come to me on multiple occasions with problems and ask for my help in finding alternative solutions. I’m always happy to help someone arrive at a good resolution.
25. Good memory/quick thinker
This position needs someone who can think quickly on their feet, and who can easily remember little details at a moment’s notice. I take time after each customer interaction to record key details from each conversation, such as their last purchase or something they mentioned about their family. Then, when I interact with them again, I can show my interest in their lives beyond just the sale. This helps me build a better rapport with my clients, and also helps me better understand their needs by thinking about the whole person and not just their wallet.
Example Answers: “What are your weaknesses?”
1. Extremely extroverted
I consider myself an extroverted person, which means that sometimes I may put off work in favor of interacting with others. It’s not that I actively avoid doing my job. I just prefer to work alongside other people rather than by myself. Whenever possible, I try to make sure I’m part of group projects instead of only working alone. When I do need to work alone, being in a quiet office wouldn’t be my first pick – I may try to find a communal area and work there since just hearing the buzz of other conversations can help me focus.
2. Too sensitive
I have a tendency to take things too personally and be too sensitive to criticism. Whenever someone critiques my work, even if the feedback is constructive and well-intentioned, I can sometimes feel like they are judging me as a person. I have learned to keep this in check, forcing myself to take notes after each review or feedback session to really write down and remind myself what specific aspects they mentioned, rather than assume they disliked me in general. I remind myself that criticism is actually a gift, as it will give me the information I need to get better at what I do.
3. Presentation skills
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t choked in front of others. I strongly dislike giving presentations and avoid them wherever possible. I do my best to prepare others to present on my behalf, since I usually find myself partnered with someone who doesn’t mind being in the front of a meeting. When I do need to present, I try to take as much time as possible before the meeting to review my material multiple times, try to think of every possible question my managers could ask me, and focus on delivering my material quickly and accurately.
I can be a little disorganized. My planner and calendar are a mess, with post-its all over my monitor and notes hastily scribbled in the margins. For the most part, I know where everything is, but I know that if I were to hand over my work binder to someone else, they wouldn’t be able to find anything. However, I am in the process of researching various organization apps and am coming up with a solid plan to fix this. I would also be happy to use any software the company has that would help me translate my sticky note collection into a more methodical process.
5. Overly critical of myself
I take myself too seriously and am afraid that any kind of mistake will make my bosses upset with me. I think it’s a good thing to focus on attention to detail, but sometimes I can check things too many times or fall victim to “analysis paralysis.” I’ve tried to build reference sheets so I can physically check off what I’ve reviewed to try to avoid going back over the same thing multiple times.
Most people think being a perfectionist is a good thing, but I’ve been told by other managers that I’m almost too good at it. I’ve almost missed deadlines because I wanted everything to be precisely perfect, which has made my bosses nervous. I’ve also taken work that others have submitted and checked their work for errors, which is really not what teammates should be doing.
7. Shy/too introverted
I can be pretty withdrawn in the middle of a project. It’s not that I dislike or don’t get along with other people; I’d just rather be left alone to do my work in peace. I think better in a quiet space, and having too many ideas bouncing around can make me feel flustered or even shake my confidence in my own abilities. When I do group work, I try to find something I can do autonomously if at all possible. I’ve tried to branch out and speak up in group meetings sometimes, if only just to show myself that people won’t dismiss my ideas. Usually, most people like what I have to say, and I need to get better at reminding myself of this fact.
I can be pretty competitive. If there’s any way I can prove I’m the best at something, I naturally go out for that recognition. I pride myself on my integrity and teamwork skills, so would never ever make another coworker look bad to achieve my goals, but I do sometimes do extra work that I wasn’t assigned just to be seen as a good employee. I’m trying to work on that by seeking extra projects and by making sure that I have a large pipeline of work to keep me really busy.
9. Not skilled at delegating work
I hate to see others do a haphazard job on something I know I could do right the first time, so I tend to do most of a project myself. I know that there are times when I need to delegate, so when I delegate, I also force myself to limit checking in on my teammates when we’re in the middle of a group project. I try very hard to give them an appropriate amount of space to work and not feel micromanaged.
10. Trouble saying “no”/taking on too much responsibility
I have trouble saying “no” when I’m asked to take on extra work, or to do something I don’t feel like I’d be very good at. I just don’t want to disappoint my boss and seem like I’m not a team player, so I just go along with whatever people ask me to do most of the time. It’s been rare that I’ve not been able to deliver, but I need to learn to be more transparent about what I have on my plate and let my boss determine whether or not I should still take on the extra work.
11. Too focused on the details
Sometimes, it’s easy for me to miss the forest for the trees. I can get bogged down on little details, focusing on a small part of the project and then having to pull really long hours to get back on track. I’ve tried to get better about time management and giving myself enough time to do the “deep dive” on key parts of a project so I don’t lose sight of the overall goal. Once the deadline for one piece is up, I put it away in a folder and force myself to move onto the next thing.
12. Not detail-oriented enough
I am not a perfectionist, and sometimes that can cause problems when precision and attention to detail are important. However, I do try to keep up with a project checklist when working, and I’ve started including “final accuracy check” or “design check” as an item to complete before submitting a project. If I’m doing group work, I will also find someone who is better at tracking the minute details than I am, and ask them to review my work before it is finalized.
13. Can suffer from lack of focus/distraction
I can sometimes get distracted when working on a project. It could be outside conversations with teammates, or even looking into other projects when my current work has a closer deadline. I can think that everything that comes across my desk or my inbox is urgent and requires my immediate attention, and instead postpone some of my priority work later than I should. One way I have tried to mitigate this is to mute my inbox notifications on my laptop; I can still see emails as they occur, but not hearing the sound helps me focus better.
14. Get impatient when projects miss deadlines
I hate being late. I take it personally when others are late with me, and I feel like I’ve let everyone down if work with my name on it shows up past the due date. I try to give people plenty of lead time when asking for their input or their part of the work, but sometimes I can hound them too much or not give them enough of a chance to respond.
15. Need more experience in verbal communication
A lot of times I know how I feel about a project or what I want the finished product to look like, but I can’t quite put it into the right words. I end up being longwinded instead of being precise and succinct. I get especially longwinded when I’m asked to give my opinion on the spot. I’m much better if I can have some time to think about it, write down what I want to say, then send that feedback to my boss.
16. Need more practice sharpening my writing skills
I don’t feel that I am very good at writing reports. I’d much rather give a presentation where I can think on my feet; I’m really good at answering questions on the fly or in a brainstorming session where my ideas can fly free. But putting my thoughts into a more permanent state seems daunting. I end up second-guessing myself and drafting multiple versions. To help with this, I try to work with a colleague who is better at writing than I am, or at least ask someone to read over and give me their thoughts on my draft.
17. Need more experience leading a team
It scares me a bit to think of leading a team. I will always contribute and make sure that I’m helping the team reach our goals or finish the work, but I prefer that my name isn’t the one at the top of the list when the boss asks who was responsible for making it happen. I’m fine when I’m working on something by myself, but for some reason, “leading” a group project seems a lot harder. I think part of it is I don’t feel like I can pull everyone’s strengths together in the best way. I’ve signed up for a training session later this year to work on my leadership skills.
18. Need more experience interpreting data
When I see a report that is data-heavy, I don’t think I am the best at finding the key trends or most important information. Maybe it’s a lack of critical thinking skills on my part, but it’s difficult for me to see a bunch of facts and figures and pull out the few most meaningful ones. I try to work with reports that give an overview with the highlights or automatically generate a few key metrics for me. I also try to ask lots of questions when a client asks me to pull together a report they want so I’m crystal clear on what I’m looking for.
19. Need more experience in giving constructive feedback
Sometimes when I am asked to review the work of others, I can be too blunt and direct. In general, I feel like giving a clear and direct opinion is best, but I’m working on understanding that if people feel hurt, they stop listening and progress will not be made. The last thing I want is for them to feel demoralized or shut down and not hear anything at all. I need to boost their confidence and open their ears by telling them first what they are doing right, and then be sensitive with how I deliver the constructive criticism.
Also, I’m learning that just pointing out what’s wrong isn’t always enough; it’s also important to show how it can be improved so they know how to take my feedback and move forward.
20. Sometimes lack confidence
I feel like maybe I could contribute more, but I’m afraid I’ll mess up and let everyone down. I don’t feel like I’ve had the chance to really build my self-confidence to the point where I can be the first to raise my hand. Maybe I’ve even held myself back because I’m afraid to fail or mess up. My supervisor has had some good conversations with me about it, and she’s agreed to help me by proactively assigning me key projects to show me I can accomplish those kinds of things.
21. Sometimes do not ask for help soon enough
I am infamous for leaving things until the last minute and for biting off more than I can chew. At the start of a project, I assume I can do all the work easily with plenty of time to spare. But inevitably, the work piles up, and I put things off, or I realize that it’s a lot harder than I initially thought, and I procrastinate those portions of the work. When it gets down to the wire, I’m stuck working late or scrambling to get things done.
I very rarely miss a deadline, but I shouldn’t be operating this way. My goal moving forward is to really think about what a project requires and go to my boss as soon as possible to ask for additional help or resources if I think I might slip into that trap again.
22. Need to maintain a better work/life balance
I am a classic workaholic. Everywhere I look, it seems like people are saying everybody needs to hustle more – the podcasts I listen to, the blogs I read, the seminars I attend. I don’t mind work, and I’m glad I can help others, but I leave work every day burned out and unable to enjoy my downtime.
All I can think about is how much work I have waiting for me when I get back in the office. Even when I take a vacation, I can’t fully let down and enjoy myself because I’m focused on where to jump back in when I return. I think I just need to schedule some time to really unplug.
23. Attempting to please everyone
I hate to disappoint anyone or have them think badly about me. Even if it means changing a few habits or giving in to others’ preferences when I’m on a project team with them, I’d rather sacrifice that than have someone think I was the reason people didn’t get along. I also will take on too much work because I don’t want to turn down anyone’s requests. I am working on staying true to myself a little more in a healthy way, and also making sure I am really clear about what my capacity is so that I don’t disappoint anyone.
24. Assuming I know more than I do/not asking enough questions
I have sometimes worked on projects that ended up not being what my manager expected. I made assumptions based on my understanding of the work without understanding the bigger picture, or just didn’t ask enough questions when getting the original project brief. I am working to retrain myself to confirming what I do know, making sure I understand the overall context and background, and asking questions whenever there is doubt or ambiguity.
25. Starting a project without understanding all requirements
Sometimes I have trouble with getting started on a project before I understand all of the details or requirements. For example, if a report needs to be formatted a certain way, or if there are specific design or branding requirements, I might miss those by reading quickly over the general deliverables and details. I certainly don’t mean to ignore those stipulations, but I get excited about starting the work and have caused extra work for myself down the line. I have tried to do better about reviewing requirements thoroughly before getting started on my recent work.
When you are asked to give your strengths and weaknesses, you want to use your answer to explain why you would be fantastic in the job. You are using your answer – even to your weakness – to show that you are the right choice for this particular job. Your weakness is not a fatal flaw. It is actually something that is mostly a strength, but that you need to do a little work on.
Give at least one concrete example and use this question as an opportunity to show what kind of employee you can be. The prospective employer will want to judge your qualifications against the requirements of the position, but they are also thinking about how you present yourself, how you communicate with others, and even how you are able to think on your feet.
Before you go in for your next interview, take the time to review some of these examples, and also take time to reflect on what you can talk about as your own strengths and weaknesses. You need to have an open and honest answer ready that will complement the other reasons you feel you are the ideal candidate. Now go and get that job offer!
Keith Miller has over 25 years experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entreprenuer, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.