3 Answers To "What Areas Need Improvement?" (Interview Question)

a picture of business person and areas of improvement interview question

When an interviewer asks you, “Where do you need improvement?” or “How do you see yourself needing improvement?” you might be feeling like this is a question designed to trick you. But it’s not. The answer to this question is simple, but one that requires humility and understanding to answer correctly.

Why Does The Interviewer Ask “What Do You Need To Improve?”

Here’s the biggest secret, every great leader, let’s call it the CEO of Sprint or Facebook, will tell you that they have something that they can do better on. Highly experienced professionals will always admit that there is something that they can do better.

The reason for this is that those driven by consistently improving know that there’s always something that they wish they be better at, even if they are already great.

Professional athletes are another great example of this. Even Serena William, the professional tennis player, will tell you that she has something she thinks she could be doing better.

The key here is that you are willing to openly admit and talk about the things that you wish you could be doing better.

What Not To Focus On

Even though there are things that you wish you could be doing better, the important factor in the way that you answer this question is to retain your confidence. Be confident in what you can do and then shed some light on what you could be doing better. Don’t use this as an opportunity to talk about what you “can’t do.” Use this as an opportunity to talk about what you do well and how you could be doing it even better.

Don’t use this question as a platform to:

  • Complain about the job.
  • Talk about skills you don’t have.
  • Talk about “things” you wish were different.
  • Don’t use this as a platform to brag.

That won’t go far with the hiring manager. They’re not seeking your opinion of the world. And they’re also not looking for you to boast about yourself. Such an answer like, “I work too late at the office all week.” is one that will make you look bad. Because you are using it as a platform to try and boast about your efforts, it will have adverse effects.

How To Find An Area Of Improvement

When you are thinking about your work's functional areas and how you might identify an area that needs improvement, examine what is going well. Take what’s going well and then try to compare that against someone else who you think does an even better job than you. Then fill the missing gap with what that area is.

For example here’s what you could do to find an area that needs improvement:

  • Think about your daily work.
  • Think about what’s going well.
  • Think about what’s not going so well.
  • Remove anything that you aren’t actively focused on.
  • Think about the gap between what’s going well and not going well, that should be your area of improvement.

What A Good Answer Looks Like

A good answer to this question is one that contains humility, empathy, an opportunity to seem coachable, and a genuine or honest answer. Avoiding any generic responses will ensure that you answer this question correctly.

Here’s a breakdown of what your good answer should contain:

  • An area you are working to improve but are already decent at.
  • An area of improvement that isn’t directly correlated to the job function being performed correctly.
  • An area of improvement that your employer might value (customer support, for example).
  • An opportunity for the employer to feel like they could help you with that area you are looking to improve.

When you think about all of this, your answer should be relatively simple to come up with. Let’s start looking at some examples so you can get a rhythm for what this is like. You must keep your answer short and direct. That way, it will be easier to remember and easier for the hiring manager to comprehend when you’re telling it.

3 Good Example Answers To “What Area’s Need Improvement?”

Answer 1

“I feel there’s always room to improve communication skills. Communication, either between colleagues or customers, is so critical. I’ve realized when working on major initiatives and stressful projects that communication is key. Good communication can expedite the timeline of a project. Bad communication can delay it. With that, I feel as though I always want to improve the way I communicate with my team, with customers, with leadership, and do so in a fashion that carries influence.”

Answer 2

“I’m proficient in a handful of programming languages. But I never took enough time to learn about PHP. And having known that Facebook relies on PHP more than I originally thought, I’d love to spend more time learning the in’s and out’s of PHP. That’s an area where I could use some improvement. I also think that learning more about PHP will make me more proficient in the other code language practices.”

Answer 3

“There’s a lot of value in being able to speak with customers. We work every single day to serve them. And while I feel I’m strong in the empathetic department, I find myself not reaching out to the customers enough. We cannot reach out to the customer service department to understand what customer friction they’re hearing from our clients. I need to improve upon that, remembering to hear it directly from the customer more often.”

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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