How to Answer Interview Questions – What Is Your Greatest Weakness?

What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

“What’s your greatest weakness?” is one of the most irritating of all job interview questions. Your only choices seem to be either to answer with a cliché or tell the truth and neither are very good options. A cliché, for example, “I am just such a perfectionist,” or “I’ve been told that I work too hard,” sounds like the same fake answer the hiring personnel has heard a thousand times. But to say something mor honest, like,”I’m horribly disorganized,” or “When I get stressed out, I throw things and swear,” are answers that will direct you right out the door. So, what can you do?

Remember, this question, like many other interview questions, has a hidden agenda; the hiring manager is not just looking for your weakness.  He doesn’t really expect that you’ll tell him something terrible about yourself.  He’s looking also at how you react when placed in a difficult situation. He’s also looking to see how prepared are you for the interview, working under the assumption that you know you’ll be asked this question, and he’s hoping to gain some insight into your personality based on your answer. 

As with answering all job interview questions, you have the power to shape your truth into an answer that serves you best.

There are several approaches you can take when answering this question. This is a good example of the best approach:

Talk about an actual weakness that can also be considered a strength, particularly in this job. Choose a real weakness that might cause you a problem in your every-day life but can actually contribute to your success in this job

For instance, I always used impatience as my weakness.  It’s easy to see that impatience is a real weakness, and in my case, it’s a personality trait that has caused me problems.  But my impatience has also driven me to succeed faster than many other people.  Impatience helped make me a better sales rep, because I didn’t want to wait for the sale, I pushed to see if I could get it now.

Your answer might be that you get frustrated with people who are slower completing their job than you are—this can be interpreted that you work fast and are dedicated.

While you can’t really talk about a weakness that you have overcome, because that would no longer be your greatest weakness, you can, and should talk about ways you deal with your weakness and try to minimize the negative effects of the one you have.

Planning your answer to the “greatest weakness” question requires a little creativity and thoughtfulness on your part, but the advantages you’ll gain from it in your interview will be worth it. 

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