What Are Three Positive Character Traits You Don’t Have?

Nilda Melissa Diaz By Nilda Melissa Diaz, Career Advice Contributor Last Updated: May 25, 2023

As a job candidate- you typically prepare yourself to sell a recruiter on all of your best skills and qualities- but you may not give much thought to discussing your shortcomings. It is something you need to spend time considering- though- as will become evident if you are asked “what are three positive character traits you don’t have?” A recruiter may similarly ask “what are your biggest weaknesses?” or “what do you think you need to work on?” Each of these questions requires you to reference yourself negatively in the same way.

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You can- however- share negative information in a positive way. This is the key to answering the question effectively. Rather than stumbling on the question- communicate to your interviewer that there are certain skills you are constantly working to improve. This question generally aims to reveal how you view yourself and whether or not you are able to perceive and address potential flaws. Acknowledging characteristics that you would like to develop shows that you are committed to continued development and able to put effort into self-improvement.

How to Answer the ‘What Are Three Positive Character Traits You Don’t Have?’ Interview Question

Be prepared to talk about yourself

As a job applicant- you are used to talking about your skills and experience- but this question gets down to business and forces you to actually talk about yourself as a person. This may feel like crossing a boundary if the question is unexpected- and that feeling can trigger a nervous- weak response. Instead of oversharing- though- you can nail this question by preparing and discussing a select amount of information about yourself. You should not take this as an opportunity to overshare- but to reveal a few relevant examples that show you can recognize areas needing improvement. This- rather than an excess of detail- is the best way to respond to such interview questions.

Be honest about your flaws- but not too honest

When a recruiter asks you about your prior experience or education- there is really no wiggle room in your answer. Alternatively- interview questions such as “what are three positive character traits you don’t have?” allow you to tailor your response to the context. You should be entirely honest with an employer about what character traits you would like to develop- but you should also give an answer that does not threaten your candidacy for the job. If you reveal that you do not have great leadership skills- for example- you will eliminate your chances of being hired as a manager. Name traits that you can improve and that will not conflict with your pursuit of the position.

Provide examples of self-improvement

Answering interview questions about areas in which you’re lacking may make you feel vulnerable- but you can frame in it a positive context by providing relevant examples of times when you have successfully achieved self-improvement. You should also detail what actions you are taking to develop the skills you name- and why you believe they are important. Placing your answers in a greater context takes away the negative effect they may otherwise have and shows interviewers exactly what they are looking for: you can accept meaningful criticism- be introspective and be proactive in developing your skills and abilities.

Sample ‘What Are Three Positive Character Traits You Don’t Have?’ Interview Answers

1. I aim to be perceptive when it comes to areas I need to improve. Three character traits that I am working on include patience- assertiveness and being outgoing. I work hard and consider myself driven by results- so when results take a while- I can easily get impatient. I have begun improving- however- by approaching things from a long-term perspective. I also struggle- at times- to be assertive and voice my ideas as loudly as they should be. This is partially because I am working on being more outgoing. To address both of these- I interact with coworkers and seek feedback often. This helps me connect- be assertive in my interactions and be more outgoing at work and elsewhere. I plan to continue working on developing these traits.

2. I always listen when feedback and my own introspection reveal there are areas I need to work on. Three that I would say need improvement include my ability to pace myself- compromise when it is appropriate and give honest feedback. I have learned the importance of pacing myself in work and progressing gradually- though it is something I still struggle with. I am eager to learn new things- and I might jump to new challenges too soon. The ability to compromise when appropriate is another trait I need to hone. I am passionate about my work- and I would like to better adapt to compromise. Lastly- I value feedback from my coworkers and supervisors- but I sometimes struggle to give that same feedback. I need to work on giving and receiving feedback that benefits the team I’m working with. I am committed to developing these and other important traits.

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