Job Interview Question

What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

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“What’s your greatest weakness?” is possibly the most annoying job interview question just because of its sheer ridiculousness…your choices seem to be either to give them an obviously fake weakness (like you’re a perfectionist or you work too hard…ugh!), or a real weakness (like you’re disorganized or you have a bad temper), which means you might as well kiss your job offer goodbye now.

Most people stick with the safe route and go for the fake one.  Do you?

It turns out, the ‘safe’ route is not the best route.

The hiring manager’s not just looking for your weakness.  He doesn’t really think you’ll tell him something terrible about yourself.  (Although it’s a bonus for him if you do!)  He’s looking, among other things, at how you react to a difficult question. He knows that you know it’s coming, so how prepared are you?  And, the answer you choose to give him will give him some insight into you and your personality.

As in all job interview answers, YOU have the power to mold and shape that answer into one that serves you best.  (While sticking to the truth, of course.)

iStock_000010103285XSmall - CopyThere are several approaches you can take, but this is the one I think will help you find your balance in this difficult answer:

Use an actual weakness that is also a strength in this job.  A real weakness that might cause you a problem in other areas of your life but actually helps you achieve in this job.  But for the most part, don’t ever choose perfectionism, because it’s too much of a cliché by now.

For instance, I always used impatience as my weakness.  No one can argue that impatience isn’t a real weakness.  It is, and it’s caused me problems.  But impatience is also something that’s driven me to succeed faster than other people.  It’s something that made me a better sales rep.  I didn’t want to wait for that sale, I was pushing to see if I could get it now.

Someone else could answer that they get frustrated with people who don’t work as quickly as they do—which says that you work fast and are dedicated.

It seems more honest than talking about a weakness that you’ve overcome already—that’s not your greatest weakness anymore, is it?  But you absolutely can talk about ways you deal with and minimize the negative effects of the one you have.

Thinking about the greatest weakness question this way requires a little more creativity and thoughtfulness on your part, but the strategic advantages you’ll gain from it in your interview will be worth it.


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