How To Answer What Areas Need Improvement

Getting invited to a job interview is a big deal because it gives you an opportunity to sell your strengths to the Hiring Manager – in person. You’re one-on-one with the person tasked to find the best candidate for the position you applied to. These strengths that you want to highlight in the interview include your relevant technical skills, work experience, and career accomplishments. So it’s easy to understand why a question like “What areas need improvement?” can throw a candidate off his game.

Why Do Hiring Managers Ask “What Areas Need Improvement?”

Similar to another popular interview question, “What are your weaknesses?” an inquiry by the Hiring Manager about skills and abilities that might be insufficient or unimpressive puts you in a situation where you have to expose your weak points.

Job interviewees often find themselves hesitant in answering this question because they don’t want to give the Hiring Manager any reason to reject them. After all, when buying a product, wouldn’t you choose the brand that meets your needs? Why would the Hiring Manager choose a flawed candidate for the position?

Everyone is flawed. There’s no perfect person. Even HR professionals – the Hiring Manager included – have areas in their job that need improvement. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about being asked this question.

Hiring managers ask this question for the following reasons:

  • They Want to Get to Know You Right Away – A job interview only takes around 45 minutes to an hour. That’s not much time for the Hiring Manager to get to know you better.He has to resort to behavioral interview questions such as this one to uncover personality traits that determine whether you’re a good fit for the company.
  • They Want to Know If You’re Self-Aware – If you believe you have no areas that need improvement, you could be deluding yourself. And telling this to the Hiring Manager won’t impress him. As we said earlier, everyone has an area that needs improvement. If you think you’re an exemption to the rule, think again and start taking account of your flaws and weaknesses.
  • They Want to Assess When You Can Be Ready for the Job – Many companies don’t put new hires on the floor right away. The company sets aside resources for training that’s specific to the scope of work. For example, if you’re in sales, the company might schedule you for a few days of training on their proprietary CRM software program. The company might extend your CRM training schedule if you’re not tech-savvy.

Don’t be afraid of this question! Look at it as an opportunity to highlight your soft skills – the personality/behavioral traits that can’t be ascertained from the resume. Finding talent isn’t enough for a company to succeed. Companies prefer to hire people who not only want to work for them but with them.

How To Answer The Question “What Areas Need Improvement?”

To ace the job interview, you must have the best responses to the Hiring Manager’s questions. Follow our tips below on how to answer “What areas need improvement” and come up with a response that could help you get hired.

The first one is a “don’t” because if you do this, your job search might end at the interview stage.

Don’t Mention Job-Related Skills

The first step of the hiring process is for the recruiter to go through the resumes and identify all of the applicants who have the required technical skills for the job. The interview is the second step where the Hiring Manager looks for key differentiators among the qualified applicants.

If you tell the Hiring Manager that you need to improve on a required technical skill, you’ll eliminate yourself from the running. Technical skills are hard skills – these are the abilities you acquire through education, advanced learning courses, and work experience.

It might also raise a red flag for the Hiring Manager that you weren’t being truthful in your resume.

Likewise, don’t mention soft skills that are important for the position. For example, if you’re applying for the position of Project Manager, don’t tell the Hiring Manager that you need to improve your communication skills or that you want to learn how to manage your time better.

Reflect On Your Experiences and Substantiate Your Answer With an Example

Identify a trait or skill that has impacted your ability to perform better at work. Once you’ve picked out the area that needs improvement, substantiate it with an example to give the Hiring Manager a clearer picture of why you need to work on this.

Let’s assume you want to apply for the position of Restaurant Manager. A good answer to “What areas need improvement” is as follows:

“If there’s an area in my profession that needs improvement, it’s for me to learn to trust more in my team’s ability to perform well in the kitchen and on the dining floor.

“As a Restaurant Manager, I’m committed to giving our customers the best dining experience every day. My fear of falling short of this commitment tends to make me micromanage my crew. There are times that I’m doing the work for them on the floor or inside the kitchen to assure myself that things are going perfect.

“For example, in the grill station, I want to make sure the steaks are cooked to the customer’s preferred level of doneness. Sometimes I find myself grilling the steak myself instead of allowing the grill man to do his job.”

The Hiring Manager will find this answer acceptable because you only want the best for the restaurant and its customers. It’s a weakness that will require time and trust but not additional training.

Let the Hiring Manager Know That You’re Already Working On It

Sharing the area you need to improve on will satisfy the curiosity of the Hiring Manager. Letting him know that you’re already working on it will put a smile on his face.

It shows that you’re self-aware and are dedicated to improving yourself and becoming a more effective and productive employee for the company.

Here’s an answer that will elicit a positive response from the Hiring Manager for those who are eyeing a Marketing job:

“In marketing, we don’t really have to present to an audience. That part of the job is done by sales. But I want to improve my public speaking skills to shore up my confidence and effectiveness in case I’m called by sales to assist in their presentation.

“I also want to get involved more in the sales process so I can get a better understanding of what customers want and develop an intuition on what the market needs. I discussed my plan with the sales team and they’ve signed off on it.

“To improve my public speaking skills, I signed up for a short course in communication at Elmore St. John Academy. Also, I set aside time during the week to join members of the sales team when they make their presentations.”

If you noticed, we made it clear from the start that the area of improvement is not an essential skill for the job. Also, we explained how improving his public speaking skills can benefit not just the candidate but the sales team as well.

Choose a Skill That You Really Want to Learn

If you do the same things every day, life, and work, can become monotonous. You might decide to pick up a new skill or work on one that you’ve been trying to learn all these years but haven’t had the time to commit to it.

If you’re an Electrical Engineer, here’s a sample answer that might work for you.

“I’ve always wanted to improve my level of business acumen by learning Accounting.

“As an Electrical Engineer, we don’t read financial statements but I think that by learning Accounting, I would have a better understanding of how clients prepare their budgets and how to help them stay within their spending limits.

“For example, learning all about cash flows will level the playing field when I’m negotiating payment terms with clients and suppliers.”

Accounting may not be a requirement for electrical engineers but for the Hiring Manager having this skill increases your value as a candidate for the job.


To conclude this article, we’ll share 2 more “don’ts” that you should be mindful of when preparing your answer to the question of what areas need improvement.

First, don’t mention any skill that’s related to technology. For example, don’t say:

“I would like to improve my computer skills. I’m not comfortable working with a computer and all of these new software programs and apps. In fact, I still write everything on pen and paper.”

Whether you like computers or not, this is the world we live in. Almost everything runs on computers. You don’t have to be a technology wizard to get hired but having an acceptable level of computers and apps will be enough to be considered for the job.

Second, don’t present a positive as a negative. For example, don’t say “I’m not a perfectionist” or “Sometimes I just work too hard for my own good.” Hiring managers won’t view these examples as shortcomings.

By selling ideas that aren’t realistic, the Hiring Manager might perceive you as someone who isn’t forthcoming, truthful, and self-aware.

Follow our tips on answering the question “What areas need improvement” and set aside time to practice your responses. When you’re properly prepared, the job interview will go smoothly and you’ll leave a stronger impression on the Hiring Manager.

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