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“What are your weaknesses?” How developers should answer

Updated: Jun 12

What are your weaknesses? Answers for developers

Every job interview is a unique dance, a delicate balance between showcasing strengths and acknowledging areas for improvement. As a developer, you're no stranger to problem-solving, but when the problem is identifying your own weaknesses, things can get a little tricky. That's where self-awareness and honesty come into play.

"Why should we hire you?" is often followed by "What are your weaknesses?" in the job interview playlist. It might seem counterintuitive, even intimidating, to discuss your weaknesses in a situation where you're supposed to be impressing your potential employer. But it's not a trap. It's an opportunity.

Interviewers ask this question for a reason - they want to gauge your self-awareness, honesty, and how you handle challenges. It's not about perfect candidates, but rather about individuals who can recognize their areas of improvement and are actively working on them. So, developers, are you ready to turn this tricky question into your strength?

What is your recruiter really asking?

When interviewers ask, "What are your weaknesses?", they aren't looking for flawless superheroes who don't have a kryptonite. They are not trying to trick you into disqualifying yourself. Instead, they are trying to gain a deeper understanding of you as a person and a professional.

This question is a litmus test for self-awareness and humility, qualities that are vital for any developer. It's not about the weakness itself, but how you perceive it and what you do about it.

Do you shy away from your shortcomings, or do you face them head-on, see them as opportunities for growth, and work diligently to improve?

As a developer, your job often involves identifying bugs and glitches in systems. Similarly, recognizing and addressing your own "bugs" is just as crucial. How you answer this question can provide the interviewer with valuable insights into how you might handle challenges, setbacks, and growth opportunities on the job.

Common mistakes: What not to say when asked: “What are your weaknesses?”

Before we get into what you should do, let’s get a clear idea of what you should absolutely not do.

Firstly, avoid clichéd responses.

Saying "I'm a perfectionist" or "I work too hard" might seem like a clever way to turn a negative into a positive, but interviewers have heard these answers countless times.

They can come off as insincere and unoriginal, traits you don't want to project in an interview. Instead, opt for a genuine, self-reflective response that showcases your self-awareness and commitment to growth.

Secondly, never deny having any weaknesses. It's a red flag. It suggests a lack of self-awareness or an unwillingness to admit and address shortcomings. We all have areas we can improve upon.

Being open about yours indicates honesty and shows that you can take constructive criticism – invaluable traits in the ever-evolving world of software development.

Lastly, avoid revealing weaknesses that raise red flags for the role. If you're applying for a front-end developer role (we've got a great blog on front-end developer interviews here)and admit to struggling with JavaScript, that's going to be a problem. The idea is not to express a weakness that is central to the job.

Choose a weakness that is truthful but doesn't directly undermine your ability to perform the role.

Remember, the goal of answering this question is not just to fulfill a customary interview ritual. It's to demonstrate your self-awareness, integrity, and the proactive steps you're taking to improve.

How you should answer:

Now that we've explored what to avoid, let's dive into strategies for effectively answering the question, "What are your weaknesses?"

First up is self-awareness. This is the cornerstone of personal development and a key attribute interviewers look for in candidates. Spend some time in introspection and identify genuine areas for improvement.

Perhaps you could get better at time management, or maybe you could improve your knowledge of a certain coding language. An honest acknowledgment of a real weakness shows humility and self-awareness.

Next, consider the relevance. Choose a weakness that is relevant to the role but not critical.

For instance, as a developer, if public speaking isn't your strong suit, it's a relevant weakness because good communication is important in a team setting. However, it's not as critical as, say, your coding skills.

The third strategy involves demonstrating a growth mindset. Don't just state your weakness and stop there. Talk about the proactive steps you're taking to overcome it. If you're working on your public speaking skills, maybe you've joined a local Toastmasters club or you've taken up a course on effective communication. This shows the interviewer your resilience and commitment to personal growth.

Lastly, be mindful of your framing. The goal isn't to dwell on the weakness but to highlight your learning and growth. When you share your weakness, frame it as a challenge you're aware of and actively working on. This turns a potential negative into a testament to your problem-solving skills.

Remember, the question about your weaknesses is less about the actual weakness and more about your self-awareness, your ability to improve, and your commitment to personal growth. With these strategies in mind, you're ready to tackle this question with confidence.

Examples of How Developers Can Answer When Asked: “Tell us some of your weaknesses”

Knowing the strategies is half the battle. Now, let's put them into practice with some examples.

Weakness in a certain coding language

"I've found that my proficiency in Ruby is not as strong as my skills in other languages. While I've been able to deliver projects using Ruby, I recognized that I could improve in this area. I've enrolled in an advanced Ruby course to deepen my understanding and have dedicated time each week to practice and expand my skills. I am committed to becoming as confident in Ruby as I am in my strongest languages."

This answer demonstrates self-awareness, relevance, a growth mindset, and positive framing. While it acknowledges a specific technical weakness, it also highlights a proactive approach to addressing and overcoming it.

Struggles with time management

"In the past, I've struggled with time management, particularly when juggling multiple projects. I realized this was affecting my efficiency, so I've taken steps to improve. I've started using project management tools and techniques such as Agile and Scrum, which have helped me prioritize tasks effectively and keep track of my progress. I also attended a time management workshop last month to learn more strategies. I'm still working on it, but I've already seen significant improvements in my productivity."

In this answer, the candidate admits a weakness that could affect their job performance but immediately counteracts it by demonstrating a proactive approach to improvement. This shows a growth mindset and effective framing of the weakness as an area of ongoing development.

Challenges in public speaking or presentation skills

"Public speaking has never been my strongest suit, which can be a challenge when it's time to present a project or idea to the team or stakeholders. However, I recognize the importance of effective communication in this field, so I've joined a local Toastmasters club to improve. I've also started using virtual platforms that offer interactive presentation skills training. While I still have room for improvement, I've seen a significant difference in my ability to communicate my ideas clearly and confidently."

This response acknowledges a weakness but, more importantly, highlights the actions taken to address the issue. It also frames the weakness as a challenge being actively managed, rather than a fixed inability.

Difficulty in delegating tasks

"I’ve noticed that I tend to take on too much work myself instead of delegating tasks to others. This is something I've recognized from past group projects where I would often do more than my share. I understand this could limit my team's growth and my leadership potential. I've been working on this by consciously involving my team in tasks and decision-making processes. I'm learning to trust in the skills and capabilities of my colleagues and to understand that delegation is key to successful project management."

Impatience with slow processes

"Being someone who values efficiency and fast results, I sometimes find it challenging to deal with slow processes or delays in project timelines. I understand that patience is important in software development as rushing can lead to overlooked details or errors. To work on this, I have been practicing mindfulness techniques and have taken up courses in project management to better understand the reasons behind various processes. This has helped me to better manage my impatience and focus more on the quality of work."

Each of these responses shows a genuine, non-critical weakness and follows the strategies of self-awareness, relevance, growth mindset, and positive framing. They demonstrate an understanding of the issue and a proactive approach towards improvement.

A few additional tips

As we wrap up, let’s touch on a few more tips that could be beneficial for developers during their job interviews.

Balance Honesty with a Positive Impression

Honesty is crucial. It shows integrity and earns respect. But it's equally important to leave a positive impression. It's about finding a balance. When discussing your weaknesses, be honest but also highlight the steps you're taking to improve. This approach not only shows your self-awareness but also your proactive mindset and commitment to growth.

Avoiding Deal-Breaker Weaknesses

Choose your disclosed weakness wisely. If a specific skill is crucial to the role you're applying for, it's best not to list it as your weakness. For example, if you're applying for a Python developer role, stating Python as your weakness may make you seem unfit for the job. Instead, focus on a skill that's not central to the role but still relevant to the general field.

Being Prepared but Not Overly Rehearsed

It's good to be prepared for the interview. However, you want to avoid sounding like you're reciting a well-rehearsed script. Your answers should come across as genuine and spontaneous. Practice your responses but allow for flexibility in how you deliver them based on the interviewer's reactions and the overall flow of the conversation.


Interviews can be nerve-wracking, but remember, they are just conversations. Your interviewers want to get to know you, your skills, and how you handle challenges. So when faced with the question about your weaknesses, take a deep breath, recall your strategies, and answer with confidence.

Getting better at answering common interview questions is important if you’re looking for a new job as a developer.

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