What's Your Greatest Weakness? How to Answer the Most Irritating Job Interview Question—And Still Get It Right

“What’s your greatest weakness?” is one of those typical but tough job interview questions.  We all hate this question, but it comes up all the time, and your answer is critical.  You know you’re going to get asked, so be prepared.  It’s trickier than it seems on the surface, and there’s an art to answering it well.  Do you give your real weakness and how you’ve overcome it?  Or do you pinpoint a quality that contributes to your success?  How do you answer it truthfully (because they can see through a snow job) but still present yourself as the best candidate for the job?

Some people will tell you to actually come up with a real weakness, like, say, lack of organization, and than talk about what you’ve done to overcome it.  I’m not sure that’s a good idea.  I don’t want to hear about weaknesses like organization that would be critical to your success on the job.  That’s not the best idea.

What about a weakness like impatience?  (That’s one of mine.)  I’m impatient to get going on projects, to get them done, and to generally succeed faster.  It’s a real weakness, but it also drives my success.

Try to think of a weakness that’s real—a real one you’ve got, but one that will contribute to your success on the job.  (Although I would tell you to try to stay away from clichéd weaknesses like “perfectionism.”  There’s a red flag for the interviewer.)  You know the question is coming, so don’t act like you’re stumped.  You have to answer the question before you’re going to be able to move forward in the interview process.

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