Like other frequently asked job interview questions, questions about areas of improvement should be prepared before you go to your job interview. When an interviewer asks you about your areas of improvement, they ask you about your weaknesses and what you’re actively doing to improve them.
This might come across as intimidating, and this question is sometimes considered an ‘uncomfortable interview question‘. However, it’s an opportunity for you to show that you are self-aware and professional about your development. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses allows you to build on them and identify areas that you can further improve.
Other ways the interviewer can ask you similar types of questions:
- What is your greatest weakness?
- Is there a skill that you need to improve?
- How do you deal with criticism?
- What do you need to improve to achieve your career goals?
In this blog, we discuss why the interviewer asks you what areas need improvement. Also, we tell you what you should focus on when answering this question. Furthermore, read more about frequently asked job interview questions here and check our job interview preparation checklist.
Why Interviewers Ask About Areas That Need Improvement
The interviewer’s goal when asking this question is to assess your level of self-awareness. Also, the answer you give indicates to them if you are able to identify areas that you need to improve by yourself. An honest answer also shows that you are straightforward with yourself and them. The interviewer knows that everybody has their flaws and development points. If you can openly discuss these in the right way, this will make a better impression than saying you ‘have no areas of improvement.’
Employers are always looking for employees who possess drive and ambition and who are trying to make the best of themselves in the workplace. If you show self-awareness, this indicates that you understand your room to grow as a professional, which increases the likelihood of you becoming a valuable team member. In general, taking the initiative, showing ambition, self-awareness, and demonstrating the ability to solve problems are all characteristics in which interviewers are interested in.
Learn more about personal interview questions and how to answer them.
How To Answer Job Interview Questions About Areas That Need Improvement
To answer this question, you need to realize and acknowledge that everybody has areas to improve and that it’s okay to discuss. Therefore, before you go to the interviewer, make sure that you assess your talents and identify the areas to improve.
If you give an authentic answer to the interviewer, this demonstrates that you are able to be honest to yourself and others about how you can improve yourself both on a personal level and a professional level.
Also, by being able to discuss your areas of improvement, you show that you possess the drive to reach your professional goals. This will indicate to the interviewer that you are likely to be a valuable team member that can take the initiative and solve problems you encounter in the workplace.
Learn more about how to discuss your career goals during a job interview.
When you’re preparing your answer to talk about areas you can improve, you need to take two things into account:
- An actual weakness you can discuss
- The steps that you are taking to improve yourself
Both of these are important when you’re answering this question in a job interview. This means that when you’re preparing your answer, you should not mention one without the other. Always provide the interviewer with specific examples of weaknesses and the steps that you are taking to improve yourself.
As stated earlier, everybody has improvement areas, but you should still strategically choose the examples you use in your answer. The key to success when answering this question is picking a weakness that does not indicate that you could not do the job you’re applying for.
For instance, if you’re interviewing for a customer service position, do not mention that you have difficulties interacting with people. Or if you are applying for a software developer position, saying that you have poor attention to detail will probably be a deal-breaker for the interviewer. Always go for a weakness that does not in any way disqualify you from the responsibilities of the position that you are interviewing for.
It’s not uncommon for interviewers to ask follow-up questions after your answer, which may include asking for other weaknesses. Therefore, make sure that you have two or three examples ready to discuss when you go to the interview. When you’re preparing your answers, it’s smart to go for something that you are already average (or at least okay) at, but you want to become better at it.
Tips To Consider When You’re Preparing Your Example Answers
Below you will find some tips that will help you structure your answers.
Be ready to answer this question by preparing example answers before the interview.
Choose examples wisely
Go for areas that require improvement that your interviewer can relate to and ones that you can give a positive spin to. For instance, everybody can be impatient at times and the calmest and a communicative person can run into communication problems. These are areas that a lot of people can relate to, including the interviewer.
Provide the necessary details
Try to be as concise and concrete as possible, but include the necessary details for the interviewer to understand what you mean. Talk about your improvement areas and how you’re working on your development as a professional.
You’ve prepared, so you’re good to go and make that right impression on the interviewer. It might still feel different than other interview questions when your weaknesses are brought up but always maintain an optimistic tone when you’re answering the question. Focus on highlighting how you can develop your skill set.
Coming across as a sincere and honest person is always good. This shows that you can build trust in a professional work setting and develop professional relationships as well.
Sample Answers To Job Interview Questions About Areas That Need Improvement
There are two types of areas that you can use to discuss your weakness. However, regardless of the option that you’re going with, make sure to show that you’re self-aware and self-motivated.
- Skill-based improvement areas: In this option, you talk about a particular skill that could use development, and you can discuss concrete steps you’re taking to develop this skill. This could be through a class, certification program, or (online) course. However, you could also develop a skill through an opportunity at work. It all depends on how you think you should approach this. Be creative and show the interviewer that you are actually putting in the work to develop yourself.
- Character-based improvement areas: If you want to describe a character trait that could use more attention and development, you do not want the interviewer to think that you’re, for instance, difficult to get along with or that you’re not open to criticism. Your goal should always be to describe an area that needs improvement but still make clear that you’re suitable for the job and a good addition to the team.
Important: generic responses such as ‘Sometimes I work too hard,’ ‘I’m too much detail-orientated‘, or talking about how ‘you’re a perfectionist‘ is not the right way to make an impression. Interviewers hear these answers too often, and these are not the answers that they are looking for.
Question 1: What Areas Need Improvement?
Below we discuss two different answers to this question, being a skill-based answer and a character-based answer.
Sample answer 1 (skill-based answer)
‘I’m currently working on improving my public speaking skills to become a confident and compelling speaker. As I progress in my career, I’ve realized that if I want to become a top manager, I have to sharpen my communication skills as well.
Whether I’m talking in a team meeting or presenting in front of an audience, I have to speak publicly more often as I develop myself as a professional. Developing these skills to an expert level will give me more confidence as a manager and will make me and, eventually, my team more productive as well. My current goal is to go from being a good speaker to a great speaker.’
Sample answer 2 (character-based answer)
‘I’m very focused when it comes to working on projects, and for me personally, it’s important to work according to set deadlines and keep them. However, for instance, if I’m working on a project and I’m assigned to smaller new tasks in between that I can finish quickly, I put the initial project on hold and work on the new project. What I’ve noticed is that if I switch gears often during a workday, this prevents me from delivering the best work on projects that require focus for a longer period.
I’m currently working on my planning and prioritizing skills by following a project management course to structure my workdays as effectively as possible. I already see the results of this course, and I’m becoming more efficient and effective at my job while being able to manage my time better as well. This way, everything I work on gets the attention it needs to provide the best possible results.’
Question 2: How Do You Deal With Criticism?
‘Like everyone else, I have received constructive input from my managers that really helped me improve myself as a professional. For instance, I worked on a project for several weeks that turned out to need some revision before it could be submitted because the requirements were not fully met.
My manager sat down with me and walked me through the plan of action that was made before the project kick-off. After listening carefully to the pointers he gave me, it became clear to me what changes I could make to improve the quality of the final product.
I’m eager to learn and listen, especially to people who have already been in my position. Feedback, in general, helps me become a better professional. Different views, perspectives, and experiences help me improve my career and skill set.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- The answer is concise and directly answers the question. Furthermore, it includes all the relevant information that interviewers look for.
- This answer demonstrates that you’re eager to learn and listen to constructive criticism to become a better professional, which is essential in the workplace.
Learn how to answer questions about how you deal with criticism.
Question 3: What Is Your Greatest Weakness?
‘One weakness that I have is that I get nervous when I have to speak in front of a group of people. One of the short-term goals that I’m actively working on is improving my communication skills. In the longer run, this allows me to progress into a role where I can use these skills.
I’m taking extra communication classes outside of work while volunteering to assist my manager in coordinating our team projects. I feel working as an assistant will give me a closer look at all the tasks and responsibilities of a manager. Furthermore, it will help me develop into a team-lead role in the future whenever the opportunity comes within the organization.’
Why this is a strong answer:
- The answer shows that you’re self-aware and that you’re actively working on improving yourself as a professional.
- Also, the answer is to the point and provides the interviewer with the information he or she is looking for.
Learn more about answering interview questions about weaknesses.
Common Job Interview Questions & Answers
Below you can find a list of common job interview topics. Each link will direct you to an article regarding the specific topics that discuss commonly asked interview questions. Furthermore, each article discusses why the interviewer asks these questions and how you answer them!
- Career Change
- Career Goals
- Conflict Resolution
- Creative Thinking
- Cultural Fit
- Customer Service
- Growth Potential
- Honesty & Integrity
- Job Satisfaction
- Entry-Level & No experience
- Prioritization & Time Management
- Situational & Scenario-based
- Stress Management
- Telephone Interview
- Work Ethic
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Really useful information and make it much easier to prepare for my interview!
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