Who else hates interview questions about your greatest weaknesses? We all know not to say anything bad about ourselves in job interviews, so many job seekers answer this question in a way that’s obviously fake…have you ever said, “I’m a perfectionist,” or “I work too hard?” Interviewers will see right through this and probably come back to ask it in another way later (if they don’t lose interest in you immediately from that answer).
So, why would interviewers ask any job seeker about their greatest weakness?
Hiring managers don’t expect you to really say anything bad about yourself (although some candidates are not as thoughtful or as strategic in the interview as they should be, so they do). However, it does say a lot about you…
How do you react to difficult questions? Many interviewers ask this question—were you prepared for it? Whatever answer you give, it does give some insight into you and your personality.
Best Answers For “What Is Your Greatest Weakness?”
Use an actual weakness that is also a strength for this job.
For instance, when I interviewed for sales jobs, I always gave impatience as my biggest weakness. In my personal life, impatience is a true weakness that has caused me problems with my friends and family who don’t appreciate it. In my job, however, impatience caused me to be a better sales rep. It drove me to achieve faster than others, because I couldn’t stand to wait for the sale—I was always pushing to see if I could ring that cash register a little faster.
Another idea: You could say that you get frustrated with people who don’t work as fast as you do. This is also a quality that isn’t very endearing to your friends and family, but it also says that you work fast and are dedicated to getting things done.
Use a weakness that you have found a way to manage.
Another weakness of mine is that I’m not very detail-oriented. In an interview, I would say that “I’m not naturally detail-oriented, so I take the extra steps of X, Y, and Z so I don’t miss anything.” X, Y, and Z could be a software program, reminders, or some kind of checks-and-balances system that catches any issues. I personally think this is a better answer than a weakness that you’ve already overcome (“I used to be X, but not anymore”). If you’ve already overcome it, it’s not your greatest weakness anymore, is it? But one that you manage with tools or creative solutions tells them that you are self-aware, proactive, and willing to address a problem.
Don’t use a weakness you have overcome and don’t have an issue with anymore.
Giving a weakness you have already overcome seems a little dishonest—because it’s not your greatest weakness anymore, is it?
Overall, say something that either helps you do your job well, or doesn’t cause you a problem in your job performance. Thinking about the greatest weakness question this way requires you to be a little more creative and strategic, but your interview will be significantly better because of it.
You have the power here. Use it to deliver an answer that will serve you well in the interview.
About the author
Career Coach – Peggy McKee is an expert resource and a dedicated advocate for job seekers. Known as the Sales Recruiter from Career Confidential, her years of experience as a nationally-known recruiter for sales and marketing jobs give her a unique perspective and advantage in developing the tools and strategies that help job seekers stand head and shoulders above the competition. Peggy has been named #1 on the list of the Top 25 Most Influential Online Recruiters by HR Examiner, and has been quoted in articles from CNN, CAP TODAY, Yahoo! HotJobs, and the Denver Examiner.
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