How To Answer (And Not Answer) The Greatest Weakness Question

Posted by Andy Dunscombe on Aug 4, 2015 11:17:00 AM

GreatestWeakness

If there was a Hall of Fame for tough questions asked during an interview, "What is your greatest weakness?" would be a first ballot inductee. When preparing for an interview, it is a great idea to make sure you are prepared for this specific question as it is often used by hiring managers to get great insight into a candidate.

In an article on job-hunt.org, writer Laura DeCarlo offers up some great advice on how to prepare for this question. She writes that you should use two-part answers and make sure to pick your "best" weakness.

Two-Part Answers

Your answer includes two parts, both the confession of what the weakness is and the recovery, or how you are working on fixing this weakness. 

Picking Your Best Weakness

Laura writes that you want to pick a weakness that is "a strength in disguise." Examples of "strength in disguise" weaknesses include being self-critical, being a people pleaser, and having little experience in a field. Yes, these are all weaknesses, but by having a plan of recovery, you will show the employer how you are working to improve yourself. 

Make sure to check out the article for some great examples on how to answer the question.

Now that we know how to answer the question, let's go through some quick tips on how not to answer.

Don't Try To Be Funny

Alright, Jerry Seinfeld, this isn't open mic night. It's always nice to make someone laugh, but that's not the goal of meeting a hiring manager. I admittedly have weaknesses for various types of milkshakes, various types of cupcakes, and cute cat videos (not in that order...but close to it) but it will be more impressive to the hiring manager if I run through a weakness that could hinder my job performance, and explain how I am working on turning it into a positive. Speaking of which...

Be Honest

Nobody is perfect. Even Superman has a weakness (print journalism...and spandex). So saying you don't have any weaknesses is not a viable answer. Neither is "I'm a perfectionist." No one wants to hear that.

Be Humble

It can be humbling to discuss your weaknesses, but accepting them, and then planning out how to deal with them and maybe even turning them into a strength, will show a lot about you as a potential employee and someone who the hiring manger will want on their team.

Not every hiring manager you meet with will use this query. I asked one of our Orlando recruiters how often she uses it when interviewing candidates, and she told me that she usually employs it for higher level positions. Even with that in mind, it's always good to have a well thought out answer prepared.

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