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. By sharing that you focus too much on details, you’re showing your interviewer that you’re capable of helping the organization avoid even minor mistakes.
Be sure to explain how you’re making improvements in this area by looking at the big picture. While employers may not love the idea of having an employee who is preoccupied with the finer points, a candidate who assures quality and strives for balance can be a great asset.
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.”
When you’re asked about your weaknesses, the employer wants to know whether you are qualified to do the job. The hiring manager is also looking for indicators that show you’ve been able to learn new tasks and handle new challenges. So, this question is an opportunity to show that you’ve got the right assets for the job.
One approach to answering this question is to analyze the key skills and strengths required for the position you are interviewing for and then come up with an honest shortcoming that is not essential for success in that job.
For example, if you are applying for a nursing job, you might share that you are not particularly adept at conducting group presentations. In this case, it would be critical to underscore your strength in one-on-one communication with patients while providing an example of your difficulty with presentations to large groups. Likewise, if you’re applying for a position as a writer, you could focus on a skill that isn’t required for the job, as in the example below.
Numbers have not always been my strong suit. Fortunately, as a copywriter, I can focus most of my time on the creative process of writing. However, in recent years I have begun to familiarize myself with the digital analytics tools used in the various websites and apps I write for, and I have found that when you add context, “numbers” can actually be quite enlightening.
Focus on qualities not necessary for the job. When you consider which weaknesses to mention in an interview, keep in mind that you should focus on qualities that are not central to the requirements of the job for which you are interviewing. For example, if you are applying for a job in accounting, you don’t want to say your weakness is mathematics.
Keep it positive. It’s important to try and remain positive. You might also explain how your weakness could be seen as a positive in the job. For example, being very detailed oriented is an asset for many positions.
Emphasize your plan of action. You should explain how you are overcoming (or plan to overcome) your weakness. It is particularly useful when your weakness is a hard skill that can be easily learned. You might even phrase your answer as, “One skill I am currently working on…”
Share your strengths. As well as being prepared to mention weaknesses, it’s important to discuss the strengths that qualify you for the job during the interview. It’s also essential to do your best to sell your qualifications to the interviewer, so you’re a strong contender for a job offer.