What is your greatest weakness
This single question has the power to determine in one swift blow whether you are a potential asset or a liability to a prospective employer. Luckily, there is a solution – prepare in advance for this dreaded question, and you will tame the monster!
Yes, You do have a weakness
Maybe only one weakness — if you are very lucky or delusional or not paying attention — but you do have a weakness. At least one!
So, the worst answer to this question is:
“I don’t have any weaknesses.”
Why do interviewers ask this question?
Whenever this question is asked, the interviewer seeks to explore three things:
1) Whether you are self-aware;
2) Whether you are honest; and
3) Whether you seek to improve.
Gathering from research, this is the question where many interviewees somehow think it is permissible to lie, but if you are being interviewed by an experienced interviewer, you can bet that you’ll be caught in the lie pretty quickly. I read a couple of interview books that stated that it was ok to give a strength, but present it as a weakness, such as: “I work too much. I just work and work and work and don’t know when to stop.” Here’s how a practiced interviewer will pierce through that lie: “So you think working too much is a weakness? So you want to be working less?” There is no good response when you are caught in a lie.
The best approach?
Be truthful. That doesn’t mean you need to present your greatest life weakness or something personal about you. Keep the interview focused on your education and experience. Choose a true weakness, yet choose one which you are actively working to change and improve.
An example for experienced candidates:
“I have had problems in the past with taking on too much work and then not delivering a quality and timely product because I was stretched too thin in too many areas. I know it’s a weakness, because it reflects negatively on my end deliverables. I want to deliver quality in everything I do, but I have not always been able to do so when multiple priorities stack up. I have come up with ways to help me improve, I must confess that this is still a work in progress for me and I still need to get better at it, but it’s an area where I am focused on continuously improving.”
An example for entry-level candidates:
“I have a weakness for taking on too many projects and it somehow affected my productivity; thus, hindering me from delivering quality and, in some cases, not delivering on time. I think that as a newcomer in the game, you want to do everything and be involved in everything. However, I’ve learned that I’m not at my best when I have too many conflicting priorities. I’ve had to cut back on some of the less important extracurricular activities to focus on delivering my academic projects with the highest quality. This prioritization of my work has carried over to my work life with my recent internship. I am still a work in progress but I believe that with time and with adequate work, that weakness would have been reduced to the barest minimum.
An example of how you should not answer this question:
“My greatest weakness is that I’m a workaholic. I don’t have any balance in my life and tend to stay late at work to complete all of my projects, often until 10pm. I’m usually the first one in and the last one to leave. I know I should probably address my workaholic tendencies, but I know they help me to get everything completed. So I just keep on working, even when I’m not at work. As a result, my personal life has suffered, I’m recently divorced, my kids say they never get to see me, which is true. My life is a train wreck due to working all of these crazy hours. I just keep working and working.”
Remember that you should always answer every question with the mental picture of the job clearly in view. Do not personalize your answers, always give professional answers and you’ll be sure to do well.How To Answer Interview Questions: What is your greatest weakness? by Stellamaris Obomanu