Daily Job Search Tip: Top 3 Worst Answers to “What’s Your Weakness?”

March 25th, 2011 | Interviewing | 7 Comments »

top-3-worst-interview-answers

1. “I’m a workaholic!” This implies that to improve on your weakness, you have to work less. Plus, employers want well balanced people, not people who never come up for air from their work.

2. “I’m a perfectionist!” This implies that to improve on your weakness, you have to be less detailed oriented. If you’re not very detail oriented, you’ll miss important aspects of the job, and what employer wants to hire someone like that?

3. “I have no weaknesses!” This makes you appear over-confident and unwilling to improve on your skills. It suggests you don’t handle critique very well and may be bad at following direction or listening to authority.

Related Links

What’s Your Weakness?
Stop Rehearsing: Brand New Interview Questions
Interview questions to prepare for

7 Responses to “Daily Job Search Tip: Top 3 Worst Answers to “What’s Your Weakness?””

  1. John says:

    I’m surprised at the first one. The second and third seem quite obvious. I could see companies benefiting from a “workaholic” as that term will also vary upon the person. Granted I would never say any of those are my weaknesses 😛

  2. Clare Saumell says:

    Glad you would never answer with these, John! As for “workaholic,” many people say this because they really think it’s a strength that all they do is work. But true workaholics rarely get a good perspective on their work, because they’re always directly in the middle of it all. Some of the best work is done after taking a breath of fresh air to refresh the brain and come back with a fresh pair of eyes.

    If it really is a weakness of yours (not you specifically, John!), then it’s probably best to phrase it differently, like, “it’s hard for me to take my brain off of work when I’m not working, but I know a fresh mind is good for a better perspective, so I’m trying to improve upon this so I can bring a fresh pair of eyes to work everyday.”

  3. Mark Lebowitz says:

    I’m not especially interested in learning how not to answer the dreaded “What is your weakness?” question. I figure that if the answer sounds cliche, as all your Top Three do, it probably is a bad answer. I’d be more interested in learning how to properly answer it. I think the key to properly answering it is to understand what the goal of the interviewer is in asking the question in the first place. I can’t imagine that the interviewer really wants to hear about your personal problems, like your bad body image or ways in which your spouse finds you exasperating. I also doubt he really expects someone to admit it if he has a problem managing time or following directions, or that he just can’t resist tweeting his latest thought or updating his Facebook status on company time. This probably isn’t an invitation to inform the interviewer that you think you might have a drinking problem (although hearing this question at every interview could conceivably drive one to drink!). So what are interviewers really looking for when they ask about a prospective employee’s weaknesses?

  4. Clare Saumell says:

    Excellent point Mark (although you’d be surprised just how many people go with the cliche answers above!). I think when interviewers are asking that question, they’re trying to determine your level of self-awareness, and whether you’re driven to improve and grow. Additionally, it can also provide a clue into how positive your attitude is, even in potentially negative situations.

    I think the best way to answer that question is to rephrase the question in your head to, “what do you strive to improve in your work and how are you doing it?”

    Thanks for the great comment.

  5. Trysh Clark says:

    Any suggestions on what “good” answers to this question are?

  6. Clare Saumell says:

    Hi Trysh. SInce there’s technically no “right” answer to this question, I can’t give you specifics, but the best thing the keep in mind is to keep it career/job related and honest.

    Employers ask this question to find out if you’re willing and committed to improving and growing, and how positive your attitude is in that respect. Here’s a quick tidbit to check out, too: http://www.ashleyellis.com/2010/12/job-seeker-tip-whats-your-weakness/

  7. Trysh Clark says:

    Thanks Clare! Good info.

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