What’s Your Greatest Weakness?

June 17th, 2013 | Articles, Interviewing | 1 Comment »


What is your greatest weakness? It’s the question that can send chills down any job seeker’s spine. Your interview can be going perfectly, you can feel 100% comfortable with your prepared responses, and then the ugliness of that question emerges from the shadows and you’re done. Game over. You may fear that any answer you give will be the rationale for the company to not hire you but if you put a consistent level of preparation into exploring your weaknesses, it can be the final piece that sets you apart.

Questions about your greatest weakness are not just designed to catch you off guard, they are designed to further reveal your work ethic and character. Hiring managers look for candidates who are aware of their own faults and are actively working to make the necessary improvements to themselves. So, the best responses to these types of questions have all of the following:

A legitimate fault. No employer wants to hear how you work too hard or are too dedicated to your employer. It’s like a politician at a debate saying his greatest weakness is loving America too much: no one will believe it. Even worse, you might be construed as arrogant blowhard.

Some preparation behind it. Never try to pick out a fault on the spot. Impulsively choosing a personal weakness without any forethought can hurt any credibility you’ve built up. At the same time, you shouldn’t use a scripted, inflexible answer. The best option is a happy medium, where you choose a weakness from a list you have prepared that suits the tone of the interview up to the minute.

A story about your progress. Everyone has one weakness or another but a hiring manager wants to hear about the ways you have conquered yours. Start by explaining how you learned about the specific weakness (this shows you are receptive to feedback). From there, you want to discuss your success counteracting this negative attribute. If you’re far from your projected goal, don’t risk bringing it up. Additionally, if one of your former weaknesses is a key requirement for the job, don’t mention it. You risk slashing your chances for the job even if you’ve long since mastered that flaw.

So, if you are asked about your weaknesses, don’t cower away from them in fear. Just keep control over what you reveal and always focus on the strides you’ve already made. That way, all of your hard work will show through and you’ll be seen as the hard working, ideal employee that you really are, faults and all.

by James Walsh

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One Response to “What’s Your Greatest Weakness?”

  1. Tim says:

    Good article… however I think finding a negative and turning it into a positive is always a great thing as well. I have been a contractor for most of my profesional career which means short time on the job. Although I don’t have longevity at any given position, I do have extensive experience across the board because I have had the chance to work with many different platforms and technologies where someone who has spent the last 10 years at one company does not have the same broad experience.